The day was a Thursday. So I traveled to New York City on an early train. Around me, conversation, newspapers, the sounds of business, I liked to hear all that, I liked the feeling of being on the move. I was going to the office of my new employer, a small publisher near Madison Square Park. Ten months earlier, I had been laid off from a Philadelphia company where I had worked for 28 years, and each day since had been lived in the shadow of that loss.
Anyone who has been through this knows what I mean. You’re a used old pot tossed onto a pile. Shattered. I was 56 years old.
But by this day, November 15th, I was repaired, somewhat, though the seams still were weak and the glue pretty fresh and soft. But I was working. Twice a week I had to be in New York. I had a job, I had my goals. I could be again what I was used to being. And when the day was over I could make the walk across town through the crowds and the glaring evening lights, November chill, back to the train, a blessed, rolling refuge, once it got moving and was taking me home.
November 15th, 2017. All that is over now. That job lasted almost 8 years, long enough, and then I left the business and retired. I don’t go to New York anymore, unless I want to. Now my place is the little Pennsylvania farm where I was raised, and never really left. Now the young boy I worried about in 2007 is a young man of 24, my co-worker and partner on the farm, and that’s a great joy. My wife who held onto me through the hurt of 2007 is with me now, and I with her. Sometimes you measure change as much by what you keep, as by what slips away.
Now, today, I might be at my desk, I might be in the woods, however I choose, and I don’t know how life could get much better than that.
My life was always about books, and one bitter day in 2007, pitched into the hole, I saw a work ahead. Out of the breakage and the mess, I thought there was something I could make. I followed that, didn’t let go.
What I made became a novella named Sawhorse, which I published ten years later, this year.
“There was wood to be cut, therefore I got cut too, like the old sawhorse, under the passing saw ...”
“I am hillborn, I stand in the dark, I wait for the light, my hours like small bare bones, the wind lifts in the west and I feel the next day pushing.”
Any day you end a story, any day you begin one. Every day, I feel lucky.
Richard Winters runs Two Winters Woods, a small farm in Pennsylvania. In addition to raising trees and shrubs and other forest products, Two Winters Woods publishes chapbooks and occasionally longer work drawn from the farm and the Pennsylvania mountains. He is the author of Sawhorse, a fictional meditation on loss, grief, love and going home. For more information, www.2WintersWoods.com.
Richard wants you to learn about Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. They are a global leader in raptor conservation, research and education. Visit www.HawkMountain.org.