Last week, Matt and I took the kids into the wilderness - otherwise known as Smallwood, a lake community in the Catskills. We stayed in a lovely cottage, shaded by sugar maples and pines and surrounded with aromatic blooms buzzing with bumblebees and hummingbirds. We played on the beach, swam in the warm, spring-fed waters of the lake, enjoyed birdsong-filled breakfasts on the deck and watched the stars after dark. In other words, it was idyllic.
On one of those sunny days, we went to visit Paul at the Violet Hill Farm. Paul is the ponytailed guy at the Saturday Union Square Greenmarket with the "seriously good bacon." His lamb, chicken and eggs are also seriously good, but for some reason he only mentions the bacon. His animals are sustainably and humanely pasture-raised. His farm is immaculate and it is clear that he takes pride in his work. However, the star of this story is not Paul.
After several wrong turns necessitating Matt's patented 17-point backing-out technique (despite thorough directions provided by Paul, who knew there would be four "old county" roads with similar names, all within feet of each other), we finally pulled into the correct driveway and got out of the car. There, running toward us from across the field, was a tiny nymph with flowing blond hair and the brightest blue eyes. Appropriately named Eden, she grabbed my suddenly enchanted sons by the hand and led them away to explore. Like lambs, they followed with silly grins on their faces to see the chickens, geese and the fabled black cat. They looked for frogs in the stream, swam in the beautiful tree-bordered pond, and Adam even managed to accidentally step on a snake.
Paul's older sons, Cole and Morgan, entertained us with stories of their adventures in the wilds of the Catskills as we wandered around and took in the peaceful sights. For us city folk, this was a unique pleasure, a novelty seldom experienced. It was great to see my boys so excited, following the chickens to the coop and chattering with Eden about her seemingly elusive black cat.
All too soon, our visit came to an end. We pulled away, my sons moping in the back seat, watching the sheep drift through wildflowers and the pigs dig happily in the mud.