Friday, June 3, 2011

Hadley, New York: An Adirondack Adventure

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I went with my boyfriend James to visit his grandparents at their home in Hadley New York. We drove from Rockport, ME, down to Manchester, NH, through Vermont via rt. 4 (which I’m dying to see in the daylight), and finally into New York and over to Hadley. Hadley sits near Lake Luzerne and Lake George, and the damp lake air sifted through the car and the darkness as we pulled up the gravel driveway. It smelled like early summer should: fresh, sweet, and full of the promise of warmth, a sensation I welcome with open arms after a long, long, long winter in Waterville, Maine.

The place James’ grandparents have is stunning: three cabins set on a bluff with fields that slope back to woodlands. They are incredible people, well-read, well-traveled (they lived in Iran in the 50s and 60s) and kind beyond belief. His grandfather is also a woodworker, and I made a bowl on the lathe (a machine that turns the wood as you carve it)! We went swimming, made beautiful grilled dinners, played Frisbee…it was heavenly. Here are some pictures, enjoy!

The A-Frame and The Cabin



A few things I loved from the house put on the workbench.

The wall of the kitchen.

Me, hard at work on my bowl!

Aaaand I can't remember what this is called. But it's beautiful, no?


The wall of the wood-shop: hundreds of wooden hooks waiting to be hung!

Why Do We Write?

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass: "Have you felt so proud to get at the meanings of poems?"

It’s the eternal question every good writer asks themselves: “why do I write?” Not to say that every writer questions whether they should be writing, but I think the good ones, at least in the beginning, wonder what it’s all for. Because often, to people who don’t write, who aren’t engaged in the business of describing the world with words, writing often seems like a cop out, a way of standing on the sidelines rather than engaging in the game. Yeats, the famous Irish poet, struggled with writing his poetry about the Irish Civil War. He worried that he should be fighting and acting rather than composing lines about the bloodshed (he later became and Irish senator, so he ended up engaging directly, anyways).

Yet it is Yeats’ poetry that lives on a moving record of those who struggled. It is his eloquence that allows us to understand the feeling of the time. And by feeling, I really mean the physical feel of the moment—the smell, the sight, the touch, the taste. There is no greater bearer of memories than the senses. How often have you stopped at a sudden smell of grease wafting down from a restaurant and remembered your favorite summer diner from when you were a child? How many times has a song literally moved you through space and time back to day you first got your drivers license, or reminded you of someone you once loved, or even one ordinary but perfect day spent by the ocean with a friend?

Well, writing (and all art, really) is the closest we can get to re-experiencing the senses of a memory without actually experiencing it. It is for memory and for broadening our worlds--giving new angles to a story we think we know, exposing truths we didn't know existed. Which is why it is so vital to our society and to our humanity. Writing is not a way of disengaging, but of engaging.

Our world is based on the written word. Events are the markers of experience, yes, but it is the aftermath, the mulling over and the making sense of it all in an open public sphere of the written word, that lingers and goes down in our histories. Writers are the ones who shape those experiences and record them, and they are also the ones who can comfort and lend a sense of universality and meaning to individual experience. It is comforting, in times of great joy or sorrow, to read a piece by someone you don’t know and realize that you are not alone.

So the question of why we write is important. And the answer for me (because it varies for everyone) is to capture a bit of that song, a bit of that grease. Because it is the adding up and sifting through of these sensory experiences that shape our lives and give us hope and comfort, and well as showing us ways of living and feelings that we haven't personally felt. The written word expands our worlds, giving us new knowledge, and also connects us to that which we already know.

Listening to: "Free Man in Paris" by Joni Mitchell.

Why? Because she felt "unfettered and alive."