Sunday, July 20, 2008

3 Weeks to go...

OK, so it’s been awhile since I’ve tried to write anything on this crazy blog...don’t put me in a box, man! Just kidding.I’m sitting on the porch of a tiny little cottage on the coast of Connecticut. It’s a typical New England summer day, 90º and 90% humidity; but I’m in the shade watching the sailboats tempt fate and guide a perky little breeze into their billowed sails (or maybe it’s the other way around). With the shade of a full forest canopy and the same little zephyr the pushes those boats around out on the water, I really can’t help but feel pretty much fantastic. It’s one of those brief moments in life, where you’re stopped almost dead in your tracks, allowed to breath some new life into your lungs, and take on the next little bit of adventure.

I’ll bore you with a little bit of what our life has been about for the last couple of months, and then I’ll talk about the baby (the much more interesting topic).

Erin and I moved to New Jersey/Pennsylvania at the very end of May. We have settled into this cozy, unassuming, and nearly defunct Ranger’s cabin on the property of an old Boy Scout/YMCA camp located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area which straddles the NJ/PA border. DWG is a neat park, rife with the normal bureaucratic red-tape of any governmentally mismanaged resource in this country. The park has a curious history as well. In the 1950s, at a time when the U.S. loved to build dams to clog up our waterways for use as hydropower, planned housing development, watershed/reservoir, and recreation area, the Delaware River was receiving the same dam treatment (sorry I couldn’t resist) as the rest of the large rivers in the country. The Army Corps of Engineers spent a long time trying to convince folks in the area and across the country that the Delaware River was a perfect location for a project that would create a large planned community, hydropower and drinking water to NYC, but would require flooding several existing towns and farming villages. Funny enough, the folks from these local towns and villages didn’t like the idea of their homes being underwater; and so, a local grassroots movement started in order to thwart the Army Corps’ building project. Unlike many other attempts throughout the country, this small faction succeeded, at least in the sense that the dam was not built in the Delaware River. And to this day the Delaware is one of the few large rivers in the U.S. and the only one in New England, that has been left unimpeded and free-flows into the ocean.

The caveat, however, is that the U.S. still owned all of the land that was involved in the plans for the building project. So, Congress decided that a good use of the land would be as a recreation area managed by the National Park Service. Folks that wanted to still live on their (US government owned) land were allowed to do so, tax free until they die, and then full ownership would transfer to the NPS. And now there are a ton of beautiful but decaying antiquated houses, barns, and camps like the one I live in that the New England forest is slowly reclaiming. Some families of the original owners are a little perturbed, probably with some good cause, that the NPS doesn’t have the resources to restore or at least maintain their family parcel that George Washington stationed his men during the Revolutionary War. But nonetheless there is some level of magic and mystery when you happen upon a giant mansion that the ivy, willows, and grasses are slowly devouring.

Erin is the cook, and I am the manager of a program with the Student Conservation Association, the same folks we’ve worked with for years. Our program has forty or so participants and several crew leaders with a general mission to help restore the park to the gilded state that it had held before a set of three consecutive floods in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Our work has included various projects ranging from as mundane as replacing picnic tables to as glorious as rebuilding some stone retaining wall for an old farm that the park would like to see restored. Work is fine…it’s whatever…take it or leave it…

But none of that matters when you’ve got a little one on the way. To say that we’re excited for what’s to come in the next month would be a terrible understatement. Life really couldn’t be better. The place we’re living in is pretty nice, it’s definitely our style. It’s got hardwood floors that are cheaply shellacked and buckling in a few places, a beautiful but totally unusable and unsafe stone fireplace that houses a large lizard, and we have a pet mouse that wakes us in the middle of the night whilst pooping in all of our dishes—but we call it home.

We’re super happy about our home especially now because we’ve changed our original plans from birthing at a center/hospital to having the baby at home. Over the last few months we’ve come to realize that pregnancy and birth need not happen in a medical or hospital setting when you and the baby are healthy, happy, and well looked after by a caring midwife. Our midwife, Jessica, is fantastic; it’s been such a dramatic change from the previous ob/gyn group that we were seeing before. Instead of 15 minutes in a doctor’s office, Jessica meets with us for an hour and a half in her home. It’s so comfortable, like baby therapy.

Erin’s been feeling really great, probably too good; in fact, she’s been working herself to death cooking for the crews. She’s getting good and fat, looking like she’s about to pop. Last weekend we made a ‘belly mask’ which is a paper maché cast of Erin’s torso that you decorate with things that remind you of the pregnancy and birth. Although our ultrasound due date was August 5th, we and our midwife feel like it’s going to be at least a week later. It’s getting close, and we are so super-duper jazzed!

I think that’s it for now, email or call if you get a chance. We’ll keep you updated when news comes.

Love all of you! -Mike, Erin, and the wee-little-one