The sky was a lucid blue: a preternaturally-aware shade of cerulean.
I looked out the window above the kitchen sink, soap suds up to my arms as I washed up and watched a breeze shake the amaranth, chives, and strawberry leaves.
It was a summer day in crisp relief.
The chicken coop, apple orchard, and a squash-and-tomato patch fighting for freedom.
And across the grassy hills of farmland, a lone trumpet farted out a flat blast so sudden, so brief, it sounded like a bereaved elephant which had lost its ability to cope.
"What was that?" I asked my housemate, who was dandling her baby and laptop in alternating bounces.
"One of the boys from the neighboring farm. He doesn't practice too often," she said, and I turned back to the dishes in the sink, thinking: Clearly.
I'd been WWOOFing on Davis Farms in remote New Hampshire for a few days, and adjusted quickly to off-grid living and the forms of entertainment therewith associated.
It's easy to get a chuckle out of baby goats trip-hopping off a wood pile in an inexplicable panic. And there's something humorous about gazing over dozens of pastoral, silent acres, and landing your gaze upon the apple orchard just in time to see an apple drop dead onto the ground with a clean crack.
Kicks can get harder to find for night owls, though, when everyone on the farm goes to bed at sunset and you're left for hours without electricity or humanfolk to keep you entertained.
I had a small, primitive cabin to myself, tucked away behind the woodpile and just big enough for a twin bed, a bedside table, and some shelves and hooks. Screened windows in the latch door and at the head of the bed let the cool night air pass through, and I'd add a blanket or two and settle in for some reading. And reading. And reading.
Beyond the window: woods.
Each evening at dusk, after I said goodnight and I retired to my little cabin, I got by just fine without power or plumbing: the kerosene lamplight was cozy and peeing outside never loses its novelty. It was the stimulation-free solitude that kept me up at night.
Watching the chapters of Tibetan Peach Pie melt away, I turned my brain towards other diversions: unpacking and reorganizing my backpack, composing emails on my dying laptop to send the next day if I could get a wifi signal, making shadow puppets. So far, I had perfected a rabbit, a Doberman, a duck, and a flaccid penis. And, at the right angle, my hair was a formidable Portuguese Man-o'-War.
Thought for food.
One night, I decided to make the 40-minute drive (each way) to the nearest movie theater, where I gorged myself on salty popcorn and a saltier Nick Nolte as the obese and obstreperous sidekick to Robert Redford's protagonist hiker in A Walk in the Woods. (I'm linking to the book because, as can be expected, it's better.)
Sidenote to Mr. Redford: I may have been staring at my hands in kerosene lamplight for three days before seeing your movie, but my eyes did not deceive me when I was confronted with your impressive array of cosmetic surgery on a twenty-foot movie screen. Come on, now. Even Joan Rivers had her limits.
After the movie, I went to a hapless sports bar for a soggy salad and tepid people watching. It was marvelous: the puppy part of my brain was finally satisfied with the relative onslaught of stimulation audio-visual.
I got home at 10:30pm and slept like a lamb. Then a rabbit. Then a flaccid penis.