Every other week, I pick up 20 gallons of fresh raw milk at a farm up in Ulster County, NY--10 gallons for us and 10 gallons for my friend Melissa and her family. (Melissa goes for us both on the weeks I don't.) It's a 90-minute round trip to and from Gardiner if the weather is nice. I think about a lot of stuff as I drive; here's a little sampling of today's run.
8:45 Fueling up in Cold Spring. Anne is in her car seat playing happily with her baby doll. I love free Full Service, which means I don't have to get gas all over my hands; I love our little village.
8:47 Music or not? My options are many: XM Vinyl or Rewind or Spectrum or Classical or Public Radio or Bluesville or Quoi de Neuf; Vaughan Williams or Les Choristes or Pride & Prejudice or an iPod mix on CD; or silence.
I choose to be alone with my thoughts; I can't mull over plot problems or character issues with music on.
8:58 I reach the outskirts of Beacon, the site of my first and only speeding ticket, earned about two years ago. I experience a frisson of PTSD and make sure I'm driving 30 mph.
9:01 Oh, how I adore the ever-changing sign in front of the Beacon Reformed Church. There must be a book or a website where pastors get those pithy little witticisms. Today's reads, "Try God's economic plan: store your wealth in Heaven." Excellent. It's almost as good as my all time favorite, "This church is prayer conditioned."
9:07 As I take the exit for Route 32 off of I-84, I realize that Jacques expected me to go another way. He's now busy recalculating as he sits on his little beanbag.
Jacques is our new TomTom GPS, just like the one the French family lent us on our vacation. I have the voice set to the French male option, hence "Jacques."
But what can Jacques be thinking? I've been making the milk run for almost eight years; I'm pretty sure I've figured out the fastest, most direct way to and from the farm. Does he think Route 300 would be faster? If so, mon ami, you've got some learning to do.
Can Jacques learn? Somehow I doubt it, and anyway, all the Asimov I've read makes me think that I probably don't want my GPS to have that skill set.
9:10 I hate strip malls. Fortunately, Newburgh's only go on in this direction for a couple of miles.
9:12 A sign informs me that eggs are 99 cents per dozen at the Arnold bread outlet. I am reminded of my favorite quote from the fantastic movie Food Inc.: "You insist on two-dollar-a-gallon milk, you're gonna end up with a feedlot in your backyard." I wonder how many of my friends would see Food Inc. if I begged them. Maybe it will be on DVD by Christmas, and I can give it as a gift.
But maybe it's an annoying, preachy-type gift. I imagine one of my friends giving me a book by a noted Republican, hoping I would read it, see the light, and convert. And how awkward would it be when that just didn't happen? Hmmm. So, even though it's a non-partisan movie, maybe ix-nay on the ood-Fay DVD as a gift idea.
9:15 Jacques has finally given up on trying to get me to make a legal U-turn. Hah, yes: see, Jacques? You finally realize that Route 32 will cut a good 10 minutes off your projected travel time.
9:21 Passing the Cherry On Top ice cream stand; their sign announces that there are only 15 days of ice cream left. I love the theory of Cherry On Top, but they don't make their own ice cream anymore--they sell some down-market regional brand like Hershey's or Blue Bunny.
I think about my friend Lynn Miller in Cold Spring and her fledgling business, Go-Go Pops. She and her family have been selling these mouth-watering, homemade popsicles at the Cold Spring Farmer's Market all season. They're now trying to open a coffee-popsicle shop on Main Street. I hope she can make it happen! I need to start doing Jen's Local Love Fridays so that I can write a post about Lynn.
9:28 Passing the Maplestone Bed & Breakfast. SO gorgeous; I'm sad I couldn't convince my sister Angie and her husband Dave to buy this place a couple of years ago, but I love how the new owners have fixed up the farmhouse and kept the well out front. Must figure out a way to schedule a little getaway there with Patrick. Maybe sometime soon, before all the apples and leaves are gone....
9:30 Turning onto the treacherous, pot-holed driveway at Everett's farm. Everett, a cranky old Libertarian whose family has owned this land for over 200 years, comes out the sliding glass door of his house as I park by the milk shed. "Not many eggs," he hollers. "Weasel got in the barn the other night and killed most of the chickens! I gotta start all over."
I give him my sympathies and he goes back inside. Ramon and Marcello, Everett's farmhands, are nowhere in sight. I take the empty milk pails out of the car. I put the eggs that are in the egg basket into cartons and put them in the car. I put our cash in the lockbox in the fridge. Still no Ramon and Marcello. I sigh.
A full pail of milk weighs over 100 pounds. I can carry them and lift them into our Honda Pilot myself--heck, I've done it all the way through two pregnancies--but it's not my favorite way to work out. Ramon and Marcello are always happy to load the milk for me if they're around, but they must be even busier than usual, since I haven't seen either of them in weeks.
Oh, well. I load up two pails in the back, secure them with bungee cords, and get back on the road. Thank heaven for that plastic cargo bed liner that came with the car. We've never had a big spill, but the liner gives me a little peace of mind.
9:38 Driving back, I mull over how lucky I am to have access to fresh, affordable, chemical- and hormone-free milk from cows who serenely amble about in the green grass and sunshine. It's not certified organic milk; there's no way Everett would invite interaction with any level of the guv'mint. But I know these cows. I've looked them in the eye and patted their flanks during milking time. I've hauled their manure home for my compost pile. I know how obsessive Ramon is about keeping the milking equipment clean. I trust the cows and their keepers.
In New York, it's legal to buy milk at the farm. Connecticut and California allow you to buy raw milk in stores, but in a lot of states, raw milk is illegal. And that's a shame, since raw milk is far more delicious and nutritious than pasteurized. Speaking of which, the same technology that makes pasteurization possible makes it easy to get clean, safe, raw milk. I'll get off the soap box, but read here to learn more.
9:46 The Shawangunks are gorgeous today, their limestone cliffs gleaming white against the crystal blue sky. I love how fall takes its sweet time; a few trees here and there are already aflame, but most are still green. All the apple trees are loaded down, reminding me of my favorite Christmas carol.
My friend Tina and I get to sing that with a couple of other women in a few weeks; can't wait!
I wonder whether I can find a day to go up to Greig Farm and pick raspberries with Tina in the next few days. We had such a blast last year. I only have one jar of last year's freezer jam left, and I can't imagine doing without.
9:48 I also need to find time to stop and check out the Modena Rural Cemetery. I do love me a good graveyard.
9:51 Passing Cherry On Top again. The only things one can get in parlors any more are ice cream, tattoos, funerals, and massages. Fascinating.
10:02 Anne is getting fussy; she knows it's almost naptime. "Little Baby An-a-kin," I sing in my best faux-opera trill. She laughs, so I do it again. And again. And again.
I wonder whether Anne will spend any time in therapy someday over the fact that she is nicknamed for a Jedi who goes very wrong. Though it all comes right for Darth in the end, so maybe she'll be fine.
10:09 According to signage in many Beacon front yards, a person named Chris Bopp is running for City Council. I realize how very long it has been since I had any decent Bi Bim Bap. Must research a good Korean restaurant for an upcoming Date Night. I start singing "Blitzkrieg Bop" to entertain Anne. I can see her in my mirror; she's rocking right along with me, though I can see she's beginning to droop.
10:15 I'm home just in time; even my energetic covers of The Ramones can't keep Anne awake. She's just about gone. I'll put her in bed, decant the milk, and get on with the rest of the day.