It is amazing how fast the time goes when the time clock is not holding it for ransom. Without the watchful company eye, time seems to slide right by. I have been unplugged for five days now, no phone to interrupt the hours, no routine to follow, no daily drama, no truck drivers acting like teenage girls. After all these years and all the projected stereotypes, who would have thought that at the root of it all truck drivers are merely burly, bearded mean grrrls, ripping each other apart behind turned backs while smiling face to face, drama and PMS, tit-for-tat keeping score, and always trying to get what the other has just because. It is not the work that is grinding, it is the people and personalities that make it a grind.
To re-energize, I needed to escape for a while, to shut down, to unplug. And what better way to do that but with a week in the woods. I have escaped Sandy, the dreadful hurricane that tore through NJ, and made it to the farm. Two and a half hours away, I can not hear the complaining from discomfort. I can only hear the purring of the generator as life continues on without power, a commonplace event. I can not hear the phone ring, only the song of the birds as I sit in a treestand, not hunting so much as just enjoying watching the woods thrive in front of me, listening to the rustle of the wind through the dry leaves, catching a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk swooping in, securing dinner in it's razor-sharp talons. The only snippet of news I see is donations of food and clothes made by people from other states being shipped to the unfortunate souls along the Jersey shore.
In order to leave the everyday completely behind, a trip to upstate NY was in order. It is a different world completely from the "big city" that I left behind. Hillside after hillside, we pass the farms neatly cleared of hay, and the interspersed woodlot colored in auburn hues. We visit Fly Creek Cider Mill to try all the samples laid out through the store. There are salsas and dips, chips and pretzel sticks, apple cider and apple pie, peanut butter and apple butter and pumpkin butter. We spend an hour or two sampling everything and filling our carts with favorites that we will bring home for the rest of football season (or should I say snacking season). Lunch is the next order of business, as if snacking during shopping were not enough. And the Brewery Ommegang, with its Belgian cafe, tempts us to stop, not just for the crepes and croques but also the Hennepin and the BPA. You can not call yourself a beer drinker without visiting this hidden gem of a brewery. (During Christmas, the festivities are not to be missed and the rest of the year is filled with other festivals and concerts. The brewery is more than beer and a worthwhile roadside destination.)
To keep the non-beer lovers awake, I drive a little further down the road (with a full belly) to the Rustic Ridge Winery. It is a fledgling vineyard, getting help from established Finger Lakes wineries. The original tastings are limited, supplemented by offerings from the partner wineries, but the farm views and setting are quaint and help us reminisce of the days we spent in the area on our own piece of land not too far down the road. We tried to stop at Butternuts, another farm turned brewery that recently started distributing in the city, but they have limited public hours and the working staff did not show any interest in sharing their time or products with sightseers that visit during the week. The youngest of our group grows restless with all the adult beverages and silly talk of beautiful scenery and rolling hills. The smells and tastes of the cafe have long since worn off and even the car snacks we bought at the cider mill have grown uninteresting. I make a few stops along the ride to find a couple of geocaches for the kids to stretch their legs. Keeping their GPS beeping keeps the kids smiling and while they watch the GPS for the next stop keeps the miles rolling beneath the truck.
Beer and wine, crackers and wursts, dips and mixes, leaves and fields, miles and miles is just what I needed. Time in a tree watching the sky change color, watching the birds flit by, watching the wind change the landscape is what was in order. My only disappointments are that winter storm Athena did not grace us with fresh powder to cause reason to stoke the fireplace and that time has slipped by and my five days of being unplugged has ended. For these last five days, I have felt nearly human again. I have met my family again and realized how much I miss them during the other 50 weeks. Sometimes it is too easy to get tangled in the web of workplace, petty drama and daily grind and forget the great big playground of the world around us. Get outside and play, even if just for a couple of days.