As I write this, we’re parked by a small pond on a chilly, overcast afternoon at the Adams County Winery. By the time this post hits the blog, we’ll already have moved on to a new location. As of May 8th, we’re officially “on the road” – no longer preparing and testing the RV at my parents’ house, visiting with my family in my childhood home of Cross Roads PA. Since embarking on this journey, we’ve stopped at one state park and two wineries (more to come on those stops in future posts). But before I delve into those most recent experiences, I thought it might be fitting to indulge in a brief retrospective of the past weeks in southern York County. Don’t worry – I’ll try not to get too sappy with this post, but I won’t make any promises!
Over the past six weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to participate in many family gatherings including my grandmother’s 90th birthday party, my niece’s two year birthday party, smaller outings for both my mother and father’s birthdays, my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary – not to mention the brief but memorable visits with many (but not enough!) of my cousins. For much of my life, I’ve lived in close proximity to my family and had ample time to visit, despite not always making the time to do so. After graduating college and moving to Chambersburg, my participation in family gatherings slowly waned. And as anyone with a spouse already knows, you eventually begin splitting time between families, especially if said families live in different parts of the state (or country, or world). After moving to Delaware and opening the pizza shop, we rarely – if ever – were able to participate in family events, which was anticipated and expected when we made the decision to change careers and move. So once again having the opportunity to say yes to attending family gatherings, or meeting people for lunch, or going to a friend’s baby shower, or visiting over an evening of board games and grilling, felt like a luxury that shouldn’t be squandered.
We’ve been able to visit local businesses, such as Wyndridge Farm, South County Brewing, Gunpowder Falls Brewing, Allegro Winery, and Perrydell Farm, to name only a few. We’ve enjoyed brisk morning walks through the Round Hill Church cemetery to Hershaull Park, and even a slightly longer stroll to the historic Wallace Cross Mill. I’ve been to the mill as a kid, and I’m sure I thought, “Great, another old building.” And I’ll admit that I might think the same thing now, under different circumstances – but seeing that tiny old mill and reading about the history behind it holds something more profound that I can’t really identify. In our era of modern grocery stores and online ordering, it’s difficult to imagine someone forging a life out of grinding other people’s grain and receiving sacks of flour as payment in return – especially in our prosperous, first-world economy.
While visiting with my parents, I found the time to play my sax in the church where I grew up, practice the mandolin along with the old-time music shows my dad watches on Saturday nights, learn the basic skills to (attempt to) play my grandfather’s vintage banjo, and even brew a batch of beer – a hobby that I haven’t done enough of over the past few years. FYI – I brewed a hefeweizen because it’s one of Ashley’s favorite styles, and it matures quickly so it’s ready to drink sooner than most others. As I poured the crushed wheat and barley into my mash tun, I’d like to say that I thought of the various generations of millers who worked the grinding stone down the hill, but mostly I was just concerned with hitting the proper mash temperature.
I was able to help my dad mow the grass, lend a hand in both my mom and sister’s kitchens, and contribute a small amount of manual labor to the church rummage sale. All these things I might never have wanted to do as a kid, nor have been able to do in the recent years as an adult. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention earlier – I also helped decorate the cupcakes for my niece’s birthday party. If you run into my sister and ask nicely, she might show you the photos of our handiwork. I’m not sharing all of this as a way to show all the things we did, instead I think I’m just trying to provide a glimpse into our recent lives as we transition into our nomadic future.
Our departure this past Monday was bittersweet. We’re both excited for traveling in our immediate future, but I’m reluctant to leave my family after finally catching up after years of intermittent interaction. Even though we anticipated this to happen as part of the life we’ve chosen, it doesn’t necessarily make the experience any easier. But we’re moving on to new sunsets and more adventures. Ashley’s family is waiting for our arrival, and Cecil is ready to roll. The ancient Greek Stoics, as well as the Buddhists, taught that we should strive to live in the moment (and I type this with the caution of not sounding like a Dove chocolate wrapper). That is, to not lament the past or worry excessively about present events. William B. Irvine wrote a fantastic book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in modern life philosophy entitled A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. I think this brief excerpt from his book sums up that point:
“One of the things we’ve got, though, is this very moment, and we have an important choice with respect to it: We can either spend this moment wishing it could be different, or we can embrace this moment. If we habitually do the former, we will spend much of our life in a state of dissatisfaction; if we habitually do the latter, we will enjoy our life. This, I think, is why the Stoics recommend that we be fatalistic with respect to the present. It is why Marcus [Aurelius] reminds us that all we own is the present moment and why he advises us to live in ‘this fleeting instant’.”
We’ll both try to keep this in mind as we meet new friends, reconnect with family, and continue down the road to discover whatever the future might hold.
PS – We’ve created various social media accounts for The Road Slowly Traveled, and the links are on the right in the box titled “Join the Party”. We haven’t added much (if any) content to all of them, but we do intend to use them in the future. Feel free to follow along with any of them if you choose!