Some Habits Die Harder Than Others

Rain in the night, but only a passing shower, not the heavy soaking we desperately need. It’s been nearly a month without significant rainfall; the fall foliage is dulled by drought, the leaves dying and dropping in shades of rust, almost industrial-looking. I feel badly for the tourists, and I’m reminded of a line in a poem my father wrote, about a family of leaf-peepers who, gazing at the ever-green needles of a conifer, wonder if they’ve come too early. Maybe he’ll post it in the comments.

I haven’t written here in a long time; haven’t written much of consequence for many weeks, in fact, though I’ve thought of it many times, and carry with me a strange collection of ideas and images, all the moments of the past few weeks when I’ve been struck by something – the slivered, silvered moon hanging over the pond the night I swam late, or the way it feels to lean my forehead into Pip’s flank as I milk, or driving with one of my boys, me thinking about soon they’ll be gone, and how much I’ll miss the mundane moments I like to complain about – all the miles driven, all the dishes in the sink, all the dirty laundry. Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone is how the saying goes, and maybe that’s true, but I suspect we’ve got more choice in the matter than that. I guess that if we stopped to think on it a bit we’d know exactly what we’ve got, and how someday we’re going to miss it so bad it’ll hurt to breathe.

This morning I walked outside in the dark, feet bare to feel the dampness of ground. The sky still thinly clouded, only a handful of stars faintly visible. Warm, but I’d lit a fire in the cookstove anyway. Because it’s that time of year, and some habits die harder than others.

Music: Patterson and Mike doing First Air of Autumn . Try it; I think you’ll like it.


27 thoughts on “Some Habits Die Harder Than Others”

  1. Good to hear your words, Ben. You came up in my talk with kids just the other day, we talked about something, for some reason, about people looking younger or older than they are. And so you came up as that man with goats, who is forever young. 🙂
    Yes, it would be great to see your dad’s poem.

    1. Blush! Thank you, Ben; thank you Bee:


      New Mercedes van
      with Jersey plates,
      stuffed with tourists
      scowling at a conifer:

      We got here too early!”

  2. Strange to hear that Vermont needs rain. We need it, too, but then we’re accustomed to no rainfall at this time of year. Relief will come. The question is: will it come in large amounts or dribs and drabs?

  3. And of course, all the homesteaders comment on the rain situation. Weird: remember I said we had a terrible drought in the Pacific Northwest, with awful wild fires? Well, that’s over now, and the rains have started. Thank-frigging-goodness.
    I can relate to this bittersweet feeling of catching glimpses of the fact that our kids will be gone soon. I rode my bicycle along the river today, with the stench of rotting salmon in my nostrils, feeling a stab in my gut knowing that I’ve stood at the river with my kids from when they were babies… and now they’ll be asking for the car keys soon.

    1. If all goes well – and it usually does – there will be coming another kind of joy. When your kids do well and they tell you how happy they are it will feel wonderful. My 25 YO daughter texts me “My life is a like a dream and I feel so grateful for everything.” You will be able to breathe again. Painlessly.

  4. Yah! “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
    Ran across this the other day and thought it appropriate here.

    Grateful for:

    1. Early wakeups
    = children to love
    2. House to clean
    = safe place to live
    3. Laundry
    = clothes to wear
    4. Dishes to wash
    =food to eat
    5. Crumbs under the table
    = family meals
    6. Grocery shopping
    = $ to provide for us
    7. Toilets to clean
    = indoor plumbing
    8. Lots of noise
    = people in my life
    9. Endless questions about homework
    = kids brains growing
    10. Sore & tired in bed
    = I’m still alive.

  5. GREAT to hear from you Ben . . especially with your insight explaining why I have never seen the ever-green needles of my conifer display the promised riot of autumn colors. (I’m looking too early in the season!)

  6. Always good to hear your words. Considered contacting you the other day to see if you had written something lately but not shared it in this space (like that Outside article about the well – great stuff.)
    We need rain here in NC, too, but it’s coming as all things do including the some-day adulthood of our own children. My oldest shot up in height this summer and now his head is level with my chest. Sniff!
    Thanks for the glimpse of your world, once again. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Dawn. I am working on some really fun magazine stuff, and I’ll be sure to alert you to it when it’s published.


  7. Well this didn’t really make me feel better about my recent thoughts on how I will fare when the kids leave. It will hurt to breathe is not comforting. Thankfully, I do have my own hobbies. I read books, write, and drink. I should be fine yeah? Well…I have a one year old so I have a ways to go…she’s almost two…just one more baby…

  8. My kids turned into visitors a while ago, but one of my memories is how they all used to pile into the car and drive big miles to see the Truckers. It started in the early days–they would hang out with the band after the show. Something sweet about it–still makes me smile.

  9. “. I guess that if we stopped to think on it a bit we’d know exactly what we’ve got, and how someday we’re going to miss it so bad it’ll hurt to breathe.”
    This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. I think that parents, well, good parents, are obligated to raise kids who have the basic skills necessary to live independently once they come of age. Some kids are ready to leave home at 16 and some not for several more years, it all depends on the situation.

    It has been raining too much here in eastern Nebraska, most of the crops are ripe and ready for harvest, but the fields are too wet for prudent use of combines and tractors with grain carts.

  11. Ben and Geof- observational skills and humour- yeah- I see the genes at work here:-)
    Your phrase ” we’re going to miss it so bad it’ll hurt to breathe” – I’m estranged from an adult daughter and I feel this every.single.day.
    And on that mournful note-I hope the rain falls in your corner of the woods!

  12. These days my head is filled with ideas and images as well, albeit of a very different nature then yours, I’m sure. Thank the heavens for cargopockets on armypants. A notebook and pen fit nicely in there! It just might turn into a cohesive story one day and who knows what else.
    And we are approaching the time of nestleaving as well. 3 Kids in puberty now. So much fun… well, not alwasy equally much, but still. I fear the constant silence will drive me stark raving mad. But until then they’re here and they’re mine (to argue with) 😉

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