Summer is easier, gentler, and less sweaty when you have the pleasure of leaving. At some time between spring and summer—between realizing the snow would indeed melt and the blackberry brambles taking over the porch screens—our house was done enough that we weren't always working on it. We could just be in it, and have people at it. We also invited other people, those we didn't know, never saw, and remember only through kind words on airbnb.
Summer with a house upstate is watermelon from Davenport Farm. It's swimming holes and warm rocks. It's icy water and mosquitos up your nose. It's peaches by the side of the road. It's a local library fair, barn sales worth pulling over for, bike rides around the reservoir. It's earlier awakenings to songbirds whose chirps are drowned out in the city. It's going to a place where days are defined by meals and hikes rather than meetings and plans. The biggest problem is not getting there enough, and also in knowing that it's as good as it is because of this other thing I have: life, work, city, deadlines, projects, friends, a social life—that occupy and push me on all the days I'm not there.
And, it's hardly a secret. "Upstate" is this passcode for rural respite, peace, quiet, farms, food.
This morning I was getting coffee at Budin in Greenpoint on my way to the G-train shuttle and a guy, late thirties (probably), handsome, boxers with palm trees exposed, asked a friend sweatily sitting on the neighboring bar seat if he was headed anywhere for this Labor Day weekend. The friend described an excursion to Massachussetts with ten other friends and reciprocated the question. This guy said he was going upstate:
"Millbrook. You know it?"
The friend said no. The man said: "Farm country. Pretty much perfect."