The Male Posse went to spend a few days with Husband's parents--or as the children like to think of it, "time to get spoiled...and fed...by Mimi and Pap Pap". I, of course, treasure my rare and special moments of peace and quiet while they're away. Although it's true that the house doesn't instantly, magically transform into a luxurious spa when the boys step out the door (Man, how cool would that be? I've gotta figure out how to make it happen one of these days...) it is still like a...mini-vacation...for me as well.
I mean, after the 72 loads of laundry the first day they were gone (Okay, okay, it was more like...4. But trust me, it felt like a whole lot more...) I get almost a total break from all of my daily chores. I mean, I'm certainly not gonna cook...for just ME. (Yeah, that's just crazy talk...) So my first order of business is to tidy up the house to its ultimate pristine condition. (Knowing it will stay that way for at least 72 hours--yaaayyy! Hey, it's the little thrills in life, right?) Then I move on to tackling those once-yearly, tedious, time-consuming, annoying tasks that I put off until I have absolutely nothing better to do...such as...cleaning out excess paperwork from the file cabinet...and wiping all the accumulated dust and grime from the fridge's shelves and drawers.
Finally, when all the To-Do items are checked off, I typically try to work in something just for fun...such as a Spring Break Field Trip. Without the time constraints of having to be back before the kids get home from school, I was thinking I could go somewhere more far-flung than usual....like, I don't know....maybe Charlotte! (I know, veerrrry exotic...) But then it occurred to me that we've lived here for 9 months now, and while I've pretty thoroughly explored Chapel Hill and Durham, I've never actually ventured just a wee bit farther...to Raleigh. (You know, the nearest metropolis...the capital city...that's oh, about 30 minutes away? Yeah, that's the one...) This seemed like an egregious oversight that needed to be remediated right away, so I did my little research-thing and made a list of several promising attractions I thought I'd like to see.
Now, one of the goals for these jaunts of mine is to photograph the historical landmark, or the natural scenery, or what have you. So when the day of my planned excursion dawned grey and dingy, it definitely put a damper on my agenda. "Oh well," I mentally shrugged, "it's not like this park/manor house/capitol building is getting up and going anywhere...there's always next week." Thus I addressed some of the other things I needed to get accomplished, and went about my business. However, I noticed at about 11:00 that the sun was striving valiantly to force its way through the dark blanket above me. The stiff breeze, meanwhile, seemed to be succeeding in swirling and thinning the stubborn clouds--so that in places, blue sky began to make an appearance. I watched this...atmospheric battle...with interest, but of course these things could easily go either way, so I didn't yet get my hopes up. But by the time I returned home with my grocery store purchases, the celestial star had clearly claimed victory...so I hastily packed up my stuff and headed out for a belated visit to the big city.
Since my time had been cut a few hours shorter than initially scheduled, I settled on one particular site: Oak View County Park. It is home to an old farmstead, with several of the original buildings still intact, and the newer addition of informational displays documenting North Carolina's agricultural past. (Which apparently can be summed up in two words: "cotton" and "tobacco". There, don't you feel more knowledgeable? I know I do...) One is free to study the educational material, wander about the lovely grounds, and tour several of the structures that are open for your perusal. The main living quarters are under renovation, empty of furnishings, and so only minimally engaging. But the Cotton Gin House--with its machinery, recreations of how it might have looked like when they were producing the crop back in the day, and of course helpful posters with all kinds of fascinating facts-- was totally cool. (For example, I learned more about boll weevils than one might possibly ever want to know...)
As for the natural portion of the afternoon, I enjoyed an up-close-and-personal view of the small cotton field that still remains on the property. I can honestly say that I'd never before seen the puffy white stuff during its growing process. And yes, it's pretty much exactly what it looks like: short bushes, covered in...basically what they call "cosmetic puffs" (probably because they're made out of synthetic fibers, these days)...just like you'd see in a plastic bag in the drugstore...but the real stuff is much softer to the touch. Then I meandered by the trio of goats who reside on the farm; they eyed me placidly while I lined up for a picture, but mostly ignored me, evidently deciding that their nibbles were much more enticing than whatever I was doing.
Finally, I strolled around the "pecan grove"...which I must admit I would have completely missed, had they not provided a sign that pointed the way. (Um...I wouldn't recognize a pecan tree...even if it started flinging nuts in my general direction...) According to the brochure, it's the largest such collection in Wake County, and is important because it represents crop diversification that became necessary after the devastating destruction caused to the cotton plants by that nasty boll weevil creature. Huh. Well then, consider my horizons suitably expanded...
And with that, my little farm interlude felt satisfyingly complete. Some nice walking...a dab of history...a wee bit of flora and fauna...not bad for a first stab at Raleigh, yeah? Just in time, too, since the Y-Chromosome Crew returns this afternoon. Then it's back to laundry and meal preparation and...household...nonsense. Hmm...I still have a couple of hours to squeeze in a NAP in the silent house before they get back. Win!