At play in fields, basements

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Aug. 22. 2002

Dear Pat,

Our friend Edwin returned from Santa Fe Sunday, so our summer at his farm is over. He was amazed at the many flowers DC had planted. She's sure he hasn't found all of them yet.

Some days we worked hard at Amity Hills Farm, but the work always had an aura of playfulness about it. Maybe it would have felt different if the farm was our livelihood.

One day when I was at work, DC decided to recycle the hundreds and hundreds of cans she found in one of the sheds at the farm. The bed of her pickup truck became an Everest of black trash bags stuffed with aluminum. I know this because DC phoned me while she was halfway to the recycling center. The rope holding the mountain in place had broken and the trash bags were falling off into the street. I followed her home, picking up trash bags as she went.

The mountain now is in our driveway.

Until they completely heal from their lymph gland disease, the three Great Pyrenees puppies born at the farm are staying with us on Lorimier Street. Where white fur is supposed to be on the one with the worst case of puppy strangles are pink paws and a pink tail. Edwin says she looks like a possum.

The puppies stay in a playpen from the Salvation Army store and have started eating solid food. We won't miss the 3 a.m. feedings of goat's milk.

Afraid we've been neglecting our own dogs, we took them out to the farm a few times to run free in the alfalfa field. When we put the puppies on the living room floor at home, Hank fawns over them.

When Edwin came back, our inexperience with the donkeys became obvious. The two babies never would let us touch them, but he is feeding the jenny in the corral and getting her used to human touch. The jack is still too wild to come near.

In the end, we realize we had no notion how much time caring for a few animals and some acreage takes. But summer at Amity Hills Farm taught us there should always be time to play.

Changing the routine that defines your life is a necessity from time to time. It makes you reconsider how you want to spend your time.

So much more is possible and life becomes so much richer if you let go of the security of routine. Last night at the hour I ordinarily would be eating dinner I watched a performance of "Cats" in the basement of Edwin's friends, Lisa and Sam Bishop. Their 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, and nine of her friends -- Janna and Carly Trautwein, Melody Stone, Annie-Laurie Tipton, Adeline Yates, Briana McDowell, Hannah Seesing, Kieffer Meecham and Cara Parkinson -- spent part of their summer choreographing and rehearsing singing along to the soundtrack.

They printed up programs, made furry costumes and created a magical set beneath the furnace pipes with dark blue tarps and twinkling lights.

Twenty-five people crowded in to watch the first of the show's two nights.

Steve Trautwein, who had two daughters in the production, played Old Deuteronomy.

Nona Chapman, an accomplished songstress, usually found singing Broadway tunes in much more formal settings, played Grizzabella, the cat of "Memory" fame.

Chapman later said it probably was the "coolest" and most rewarding thing she'd ever done in her musical life.

Summer isn't endless. Playfulness should be.

Love, Sam

Sam Blackwell is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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