Visiting Neil’s barn for the entire month of July was a sketchily planned getaway based on a mid-summer’s fantasy. I had never taken more than two weeks’ vacation and rarely get out of Dodge at all anymore. So it was with some trepidation that I allowed myself to envision not only a change of scenery, but an actual retreat: potting soil for regrouping, a salve to frayed nerves, a zone that would allow each moment a chance to snare my focus in a web of simply being. All this, tamped down by a quilt of puffy cumulus clouds.
A bit of a Luddite, I have little to unplug from (no laptop, no iPhone), yet am hooked into a loosely chaotic routine–invisible bungee chords snap my attention back to the computer screen, a tangle of started tasks meander off unfinished, and pockets of anxiety land mine my day. And so, out there, miles from nowhere, this disconnect loomed, as much a part of the challenge as it was the appeal.
After seven hours of driving across two states with a pair of unhappy cats, I unfolded my cramped, achy body from my aging car. Neil strode up to greet me with a cowboy’s lean, balletic grace and a big, easy grin. Stepping inside the barn that he had converted into his home, I knew in a New York Minute that this was exactly where and how I needed to be. I put my watch away, and fell into a childhood rhythm I had forgotten came part and parcel with summer. One that would have me tracing the arc of a day through the trail of a doe, the blink of a firefly, and finally nestling under a slow blanketing of stars.