MONDAY: BREAKFAST AT BROOKTON’S
Monday morning meant breakfast at Brookton’s Market. No need to drive. The Rosebarb’s alerted us to a shortcut running through the woods not far from the farm. A steep downward trek on a one-lane incline (so steep, it’s closed in winter) brought us just yards away from Brookton’s.
As soon as we walked inside we fell in love with Brookton’s. We ordered two scrambled eggs sandwiches with Pepperjack cheese on onion bagels. We sat at a small table up front. Willie Nelson’s voice, relaxing and heartfelt, singing acoustic covers of Kris Kristofferson songs, streamed out of a “boom box” on the counter.
A view of the counter and coffee bar from our table
The nostalgia-inducing songs provided an easy segue into conversation with a woman stocking shelves. She seemed not old enough to know Kristofferson’s songs. But she said loved them and hummed along to the classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”
Paintings by local artists hung on the walls. If I’d had an extra $250, I would have purchased the painting in the black frame, a glowing river snaking through a surreal forest.
We watched local people come and go. An electrician setting out on the road for work left with coffee and an egg sandwich; a lady farmer, plaited silvery hair hanging down her back, dressed in baggy jeans, fisherman knit sweater and handmade Tyrolean-style hat that rose to a point on top of her head. Helping herself to donut from a tray by the coffee carafes, she was tickled to discover the donut was free (fresh baked, yesterday).
When Mr. NinthHouse asked for a photo of the two women working behind the counter, the cook said, “Sure, so long as you don’t use a flash. I don’t like those bright lights.” Her younger assistant added, “Watch, this’ll probably wind up on a blog!”
Directly across the road from Brookton’s was this picturesque stream. We crossed the road to take in the view.
The name might be 6-Mile Creek (if I’m remembering it right)
An elderly resident who spotted us taking photos walked over. Six miles down that way, she told us, pointing, we would find the source of the creek. She suggested we hike to it. When we told her where we were from, she said she didn’t think she would ever visit NYC. She had no reason to and, anyway, it might be just too much for her.
(Ditto the hike, for us, without the proper shoes. Later on, we’d get in the car and drive to the mouth of the river).
And when we did, this is what we would see tacked to a shed:
Got to admire this mason’s individual angle on self-promotion
Leaving the creek behind, we took a leisurely stroll back to Rosebarb Farm. Our last full day, we decided, would be all about the farm. Looking down at our feet, we saw dozens of fuzzy black and copper colored caterpillars inching their way all over the empty road.
Wooly Bear Caterpillar
Ultimately, the Wooly Bear metamorphoses into a Tiger Moth:
Isn’t nature wonderful…
Man-made can be wonderful, too. For instance, I’ve read that a boater can depart from Ithaca and cruise the Erie Canal system all the way to New York City and as far as the Atlantic Ocean. Going west, the canal leads boaters into the Great Lakes, Mississippi River and as far as the Gulf of Mexico.
Thanks to the other DeWitt for this miracle of engineering — DeWitt Clinton.
As we neared the farm, the horses were out grazing near the barn. We trekked up the hill through the high grass to greet them.
The biggest, most massive horse (a Quarter horse) I have ever seen, just a sweetheart of an animal:
And Mick’s pals, Grace and Brinny:
GRACE (white) and BRINNY (brown)
I knew enough to pet them on the soft part right above their nostrils because I recently learned that watching a movie!
We also said, “Hey,” to the turkeys. Turkeys are so social and friendly. Too dumb to come out of the rain is what I’ve always heard about turkeys. Alert and jovial, they don’t seem to fit that description at all.
Heading for the chicken coop, I spotted this bird flying by:
I didn’t know it’s name. However, a short time after, while walking with Rita toward the cottage, I would see a painted image of that very same bird on the Rosebarb’s mailbox. I would say, “I just saw that bird. Do you know its name?” And Rita would answer, “It’s a Nuthatch!” excited for me that I saw a live one fly by.
At 3:00 p.m. the farrier arrived to trim the horses hooves. We were invited to watch!
Basically, it’s a horse pedicure. A hoof, as it was explained to us by Don Barber (Mr. Rosebarb Farm), is essentially a very large toenail. To groom the hoof, the farrier grabs the horse’s leg, gets into a semi-squat and holds the hoof securely between his shins. It is arduous work. With the utmost care, he gouges out the area beneath the hoof. Once that is done, he uses a trimmer (a large set of pliers, but sharp) and cuts away the edge of the hoof. Much like cutting the nails of a pet dog, if you’ve ever done that, it must be done right. If you cut too deep, it causes bleeding and hurts the animal.
It was fascinating to observe. Much like stepping back in time, when you realize trimming hooves been done this way for ages. Horse “shoes” are needed, I learned, only if the horse will be spending time on man-made surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, which can prove injurious to their hooves.
In keeping with the barter system much in evidence in this farm country, the farrier was paid for his work in bales of hay (his family has a horse farm), which was grown and harvested on Rosebarb Farm.
Our last evening was spent with one more run to Brookton’s Market to bring back something for dinner. With regret, we would be leaving for home the next morning — to return to jobs awaiting us and our so-called “real life.” We will miss Rosebarb Farm.
I’d like give to a nod to N.Y. Governor Andy Cuomo, whose TV ads extolling the beauty of upstate New York provided the initial spark for us to make a trip north.
We also delighted in what we are convinced was Governor Cuomo’s brainstorm, to “re-brand,” if you will, the “rest stops” on the New York State thruways by updating the signs:
And another nod must go to the exceedingly accomplished and ever so modest, Don Barber (Mr. Rosebarb Farm). I do hope the best man HAS won this election…
…and that he will continue his successful, untiring efforts to prevent FRACKING by keeping gas and oil companies vultures out of Tompkins County. The unspoiled beauty and tranquility of upstate New York must be preserved.
If it is not, we have too much to lose. As city dwellers, we know very well where our drinking water comes from. Upstate New York is our wellspring.