Sunday, February 13, 2011

More tales from Plainfield and Back Acres Farm

I am just back from Denver, visiting with an old friend who has spent quite a bit of time here in Plainfield at Back Acres Farm, Mark Seidler. He lived here, in fact, for several months this summer. I did not know at the time, and perhaps he did not either, that he was dying of cancer back then. But so it transpired, and three of us (friends for 45 years+) went out to Denver to spend time with him before he goes. It was a terrific time, albeit surreal. He is very unsentimental about his leave-taking, which is an enormous relief. No one has to pretend that there is no elephant in the room. He speaks naturally about when he is dead, and is spending his remaining time taking care of his estate arrangements (in which he is involving his friends) and doing what he can with the people around him. We had a party for him one evening which would have been a wake except he was there, we had a brunch, we took him for his last drive in the mountains, we talked current events, movies, art and philosophy, and we rubbed his feet a lot. He is painfully thin and can’t eat anything at all, but is still himself - still interested in everything around him and still capable of laughing. The guy is an inspiration - I hope I face my own death with as much courage and equanimity.

Things are good at Back Acres Farm, as well. There are two new boarders - a lovely quarter horse and a lovely Hanovarian (this last a refugee from the collapsed barn in Southampton). Both were very gentlemanly and well-mannered, even on the first day when everything was strange. Turn-out is a bear, of course, since the snow pack is so deep that venturing into it traps even the largest horses’ legs. We carved out areas in several fields with the tractor for the new guys to stand in, but the Hanovarian’s response to his new turnout was to LEAP into the snow pack and head towards the ladies in the next pasture over, who - of course - were trotting back and forth as seductively as they ever could. The poor guy got stuck, of course, and his owner (fortunately very light weight) had to tiptoe over the ice crust and coax him back. This morning the love-light was back in his eyes but he seems to be a smart fellow who is capable of learning - he only looked at them longingly and did not try it again.

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