On a recent Saturday I had an excellent opportunity to run upstate for fresh air and to feel the proper onset of fall. It was nearly ninety degrees, but I think it still did the trick. I was giddy the moment we got in the car, and got progressively higher on oxygen as we left town, gripped with regular laughter as we hit and ran over falling leaves in the road. Our first stop was a Stewarts Shops, which had one bale of hay outside the front door. Stewart's is a regional gas station/convenience store chain covering a wide plume-shape area rising from New York City. They all have a lengthy self service counter that snakes around, offering all the convenience store items you would expect, but spread throughout a different landscape. I love the fat font that covers everything, identifying the brand's sacked, wrapped and bottled items, and even the occasional novelty spoon. I ordered my favorite: a maple walnut milkshake, and noticed the inventive and appropriately creepy spheres floating above.
Every breath smelled more or less the same. The even, humid air was constantly noticeable, slowly counteracting all the different breaths I took in the city, where there are at least five smells in every block. I felt an inner scale slowly slide towards health, and realized I was relaxing a little from a constant awareness of my immediate environment informed by my nose. Here, inhaling under a tree would probably be a similar experience to inhaling twenty feet away from it, and so I let go of an unconscious humming inside.
We attempted to pick apples, but a slight lack of planning and the bizarre hours of a pick your own place forced us to stop at this spot. I bought some lovely brown eggs, a bag of honeycrisp apples (the BEST), some fresh mozzarella and a maple candy shaped like a maple leaf. There were 15 kinds of apples, and a variety of fresh things, but two thirds of the shelves were stocked with high fructose corn syrup "jam", and 30 colors of "olde-fashioned stick candy". There were wooden things painted with "gone fishin'" and other country wisdom, and unfortunate quantities of bland, processed foods.
We recovered from our roadside retail experience with something cozy, beautiful, mysterious and familial: The opening of Martine Kaczynski's: Route 11. Visit www.ruralprojects.org to see more about this particular work and exciting space. Children ran around, there were arias sung, a bonfire lit, raspberries picked, a biodymic apple eaten.
At the end I stepped away from the fire which was burning one side of me, and walked toward the dark which was just as dark when my eyes adjusted. Maybe I should just camp out for a few days...