Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Watching Anchorman with Brother Mike in Manchester, and Other High Church Ministries

Hi All,

Well, our Tour de Communities has definitely taken a turn for the cerebral. As I write, I'm watching three grizzly bears beat up on Ron Burgundy's newsteam, in a friary somewhere in Manchester, NH. "Anchorman" is just as silly and brilliant the third time as it was the first. Mark and Mike and I are happily howling. Enter Baxter the dog to negotiate with the bears. Yeah, it brings to mind not only Lassie but really bad John Wayne "Injuns", and yeah, I'm tired of bears always being the bad guys, but/because of that? it's still hysterical.

We met up with Mike yesterday at the Four Corners Store (the only store, or business of any kind) in Richmond, NH, at then end of the 86th steep climb of the day. We stopped in 8 miles short of Fitzwilliam, our planned rendezvous spot, after I had a complete meltdown two miles from Richmond: "Mark, I can't do another 10 miles of this!" New Hampshire's roads--busy, full of deadly potholes, and climb after killer climb--had taken a toll on my spirits and body. Mark graciously acquiesced.

The day began auspiciously enough. We left Sidehill Farm in Ashfield, Mass, where our dear friend and former sister-Guidestone-Farm-intern, Rebecca Lay, is working, around 10am. After 9 days of rain and clouds and wind, the sun rose glorious and much-welcomed over Ashfield. Our ride began with miles of gorgeous downhill stretches through Shelburne Falls (achingly picturesque) to Greenfield (where we stopped for BBQ tempeh and some yummy spinach and feta thingie). Occasional climbs were well-balanced by the lush, somewhat surreal greenery/scenery for miles, great shoulders and excellent pavement.

After Greenfield we headed north, circumventing Gill (a great route change suggested by Rebecca's colleague Becca) to Northfield, where our food-bike-tour of New England continued. At Mim's we partook of a decent vegetarian sandwich, followed by a huge and delectable ice cream cone at the town "creamy" (that's what they call them here).

Shortly after Northfield, as we were making good progress and feeling happily full of ice cream, we found ourselves in New Hampshire, on terrible pavement, a narrow, steep, winding climb along a beautiful creek, with lots of very fast drivers more or less missing us. One hair-raising exception to this, which had me cursing white men, capitalism, selfishness and the whole "Live Free or Die" mentality, involved a logging truck barrelling down a particularly steep bit, nearly hitting me close to the bottom when I had nowhere to go. We landed in Winchester, a town which brought to mind Pine Ridge, and Mark treated me to copious hugs, OJ, and Jojos. After that things got better...until Mark and I decided to exercise our Gottman Marriage Institute skills midway a particularly steep climb. Go Gottman! They must have taken many bike trips together.

After Mike met us, we began a lovely, tortuous car tour of the New Hampshire/Massachusetts border. Mind you, we weren't necessarily intending to take a tour of the border, but that was what we did, and I found that there are actually some really nice roads in New Hampshire, skirted with magical lakes and pretty clapboard houses straight out of a postcard. We rolled into Manchester around 8:15 and Mike took us to a hip local Mexican joint the Brothers frequent which had original and yummy vegetarian options.

We've felt well and truly welcomed here at the friary. Brother John created little signs to welcome us each to our (separate) bedrooms. Mike brings me coffee with milk, and makes me tuna sandwiches. And get this: They gave me my own BATHROOM! Complete with a bathtub AND shower! I told Mike, "You fellas really know how to treat a lady." "Yeah," he replied drily. "That's why we're all bitter and single."

This morning we lazed around a bit, reading, checking email, running errands and making phone calls. I've discovered "The Red Tent" in my room, so poor Mark and Mike are constantly having to wait for me while I catch up on decades of reading. The weather is warm and steamy, the sky beautiful blue with signs of rain clouds. We went to see the new Vince Vaughan/Jen Aniston flick, "The Break-Up", this afternoon and concluded that a) Jen and Vince needed the Gottman Institute and b) Jen really needs to eat some Krispy Kremes. Stat. For our point, we went out for delicious Vietnamese food.

Mike asked us yesterday if, after we were married, I was going to take Mark's name.

"Mark?" Mark asked.

I LOVE him.

We need to catch you all up on our trips to Agape Community (totally awesome, as opposed to "pretty awesome") and Sidehill (land of brave but muddy farmers, great beer, and a house that looks like a mushroom...even without the beer). But it's late, and we're fading. We're taking a road trip tomorrow, up to the White Mountains, for a little hiking, and lots of cable, and eating. If I'm lucky, we will not leave at 4 am. Wish me luck.

Love, Val


Post a Comment

<< Home