Sunday, September 06, 2015

Pine Plains

I talked to my friend Nick yesterday, and it brought back memories of going up to his family's farm in Pine Plains, NY, most often with his brother Tony, in the late 80s and early 90s.  I must say these are some of the warmest memories of my life.

Pine Plains was a pretty Chekhovian place.  Nick and Tony's dad had left Wall Street many years before and bought up 400 acres up in Dutchess County, beautiful land, hilly, with views off into the distance where the Hudson is.  To keep preferred tax status, he needed to generate a certain amount of revenue, and hay wasn't doing it.  He needed cattle.  Meanwhile, the ranch house they lived in had been subjected to what is termed in institutional circles "deferred maintenance."  There was a spot on an old sofa where Tony's dad liked to sit that was dark from dirt from his work clothes.  We called it "the hole" or something like that.

But it was always great to be there. In particular there was one weekend, probably in the fall of '91 or '92.  Their family was ramping up its production of beef cattle, and as part of this effort we were putting up metal fencing around what where to become paddocks.  It must have been late October or November, so it was chilly, and Tony and I were working pretty hard driving posts into the ground.  I remember taking shelter from the cold in the barn, hanging out on some bales of hay.  I was probably smoking a cigarette at the time, like an idiot.

Then there was lunch.  Liverwurst sandwiches. Something like a direct infusion of fat and protein into the bloodstream at a time of great need.  Yum.

All in all, there was just something great about getting away and doing physically tiring work with a clear goal in a beautiful setting with a good friend, during a time of some transition and uncertainty. Which, in retrospect, is just life.

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