Sunday, October 9, 2016

Choosing Our Own October Adventure

Today was a beautiful, perfect October day.

It was brisk, clear fall air. It was cloudy -- the kind of clouds that come to Rochester and tell you fall is definitely here -- they hang low and ominous and billowing, quilted charcoal in the sky.

We decided to go on an adventure today, even though today is also the adoption agency's fall fun day for adoptive and waiting families. We went last year at a different location, and it was nice to see people and meet people, but it really was a child-centric outing. This year there was a ticket fee, which covered pizza and cider and a donut and ride tickets, and for someone with celiac who isn't going to go on a fall choo-choo ride without kids, that just did not have a pull. We didn't want to be the sad couple without kids pretending that it's all okay because it's just so HOPEFUL to see other families who made it through the wait. Sometimes that is helpful, and it certainly was last year, but this year it didn't feel the same. If I had kids already, as so many other prospective adoptive families do, maybe I'd feel different, less on the outs and trying to appear to be something I'm not (yet).

We've had a rough time this past few weeks. Seven years of wanting to be parents and never quite being able to make it happen have taken a bit of a toll. (So has my TMI issue, probably more than I'd like to admit.) We never made windowboxes or hanging baskets this year. We have yet to get pumpkins and mums. I didn't buy lots of annuals like I usually do. These are the physical symptoms for our emotional state. We're sort of feeling off to the side, spectators in this area of life and a bit disconnected. We've been so busy with school (teaching for me and PhD-studenting for Bryce), work, and having CONSTANT difficult conversations about adoption and placing our embryos for adoption that we are simply EXHAUSTED, and we've sort of lost a sense of adventure we used to have. We have a good time, we go out to fun dinners a lot, but something's been amiss. It's hard to go out and NOT end up going down a rabbit hole of adoption talk, which can be good but too much makes us forget who we are outside of this process.

So no adoption agency event today. We needed something different.

We went to a nature park area near where I teach called Indian Hill -- I've heard of it over and over again but had never located the parking area or felt an urge to check it out. But our choices for October Adventure Day were 1) drive to Canandaigua and hike there, then have lunch, 2) go to a harvest wine festival near Ithaca for the day, 3) go to Cornell Plantations for the day (also in Ithaca). The second two sounded great, but Bryce had a lot of work to do and didn't get as much done yesterday as he'd hoped and those would take 3 hours of drive time alone, so 1) it was. We made reservations for 2:00 lunch to go to Rheinblick, a German restaurant in Canandaigua, and decided we'd find somewhere to hike.

I am so glad we picked Indian Hill.

We got a late start, but it was beautiful -- and a whole lot bigger than I thought it was going to be! We ended up hiking for an hour and a half through fields, deciduous woods that weren't quite changing yet, beech woods speckled with maples and tulip trees that were, giant pine woods with needle-carpeted trails, around a pond with skeletal trees partially submerged, through fields with scrub brush and wild grapes and winterberry... it was gorgeous. And we only ran into three people and a dog the whole time we were actually on the trails.

Pretty hill, heavy clouds. That's a horse farm in the background.

Gorgeous reflective pond, no color changing in this section yet.

Looking awkwardly sassy in the pine forest section of the trail.

Toadflax! Berries! A little summer and a little fall all at once!

There we are! Having an adventure just us two, celebrating October goodness like we always should.

We didn't see a trail map but figured the color coding signs were pretty self-explanatory. Um, they weren't. We discovered just how big Indian Hill was when we took a trip down the Orange path, which does take you in what seems the right direction back down the hill and out to the road...just a little less than a mile away from the parking area where we started. So we had a hair-raising walk along the shoulder of 31, dodging beer cans and broken glass and hoping we were closer than it felt because if someone was texting and driving we could easily have been taken out on our happy adventure day. (We survived it just fine, although I'm curious how many people I work with or teach saw Bryce and me hoofing it up the hill by the side of the road.)

We took the scenic route to Canandaigua and just made it to our 2:00 reservations at Rheinblick. It seems like a German restaurant wouldn't be the best place to eat for a celiac person, but they had great reviews for gluten free/celiac friendly online and they had a pretty good selection on the gluten free menu. It was AMAZING. I didn't get sick, just really, really full.

Such a cute side entrance! There was a guy to the left taking his break, and the back of his t-shirt said, "So good, Germany's jealous." Ha! 

We had their house salad and then I had the gluten free Schweinemedaillon -- pork tenderloin filets in a creamy white wine mushroom sauce and pan fried potatoes with a veggie side of cheesy zucchini... I wish I had fasted beforehand because even the hour and a half hike didn't quite prepare me for the sheer amount of food. Bryce got a Schweinebraten platter, which had absolutely nothing gluten free on it but different pork with different sauce, and spaetzle, and braised red cabbage. SO GOOD, but really heavy. I also enjoyed the giant beer steins that a normal bottle (of cider, then GF beer) only filled half of. Which made it feel like you weren't really having two beers/ciders at all...right?

Cheers! Or I guess I should say "Prost" or "Zum Wohl!" 

We decided to take an even more scenic road home, so we could see the farm fields that aren't too far from us and the yellows and rusty reds that are finally starting to take hold. We slipped into adoption talk for about 5 minutes, but then quickly corrected it was a successful October Adventure. It was much-needed time to get out and about and remember what it felt like when we were first married (seven years ago this October) and didn't have quite so much weighing on us, quite so much effort for so little return for such a long, long time. I am so glad we took the time out of our busy schedules to feed this part of us, to nurture the marriage that gets lost sometimes in the all-consuming quest for parenthood. I don't need reminding that I love Bryce, but it's nice to make an effort that we are more than prospective adoptive parents, that we are more than our (to-date) failed quest, that we are continually capable of romantic adventures and spontaneity beyond going to a fancy restaurant on a weekday because we can.

Next weekend we get pumpkins and mums and go on a Halloween walk at a historical reenactment where they do vignettes from Edgar Allen that should be a different kind of amazing. And another date where we can be October anniversary month lovebirds, and because our tickets are at 9:00 we can probably pretend to forget that we don't have those small people to share these moments with. We can envelop ourselves in the knowledge that we have each other, and that's good to have in our corner when everything else starts weighing us down.


  1. I am so glad you two got to have this amazing October sounds like it's what you both needed. Lunch sounds SO fabulous...your choice sounds way to delicious to be gluten free! I have NO idea how you continued to hike after all that food...I would have needed a nap😜

    1. Thank you! Oh no, it was all driving after lunch. A quick walk down to the lake and then back to the parking lot so I didn't feel like yarking in the car... Then just sitting and curling up on the couch after we got home. SO HEAVY! But yeah, delicious and totally gluten free... which is almost like a miracle. It was a beautiful day! Now I just need to find a way to sleep and work out at the same time... :)

  2. What a great day! It sounds like you have so many fun things to do where you live. Jealous that you still have autumn: already have snow here :-(

    1. It really was a great day! We have a lot of outdoor activities here, and lots of variety within about a half hour's drive. I can't believe you have snow already! So many of our leaves haven't begun turning...we're worried we'll have snow before they fall and lose trees. Everything seems so extreme lately!

  3. That event sounds awful, and super weird that the adoption agency planned it...

    I'm glad you guys found a way to celebrate fall anyway. Choosing to celebrate the passing of time rather than mourning it helps me stay sane.

    1. It's funny, because it's a GREAT event for those who have successfully adopted. It's just not so fun for those of us who haven't yet, and who don't already have a kid. I wish there were more opportunities for new-parent prospective adoptive people to get together where it's not quite so FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY everywhere. I feel weird saying that, but it's true, right?

      Yes! It's important to me that we do something fun and novel every weekend in October. Our "legal" anniversary is 10/23 and our ceremony anniversary is Halloween, so October is super important to be spookily romantic, if that makes ANY sense at all. :) I wish that our marriage and our fertility struggles didn't share the same timeline. :(

  4. There were many days where the only cure for the sadness and frustration surrounding infertility was getting out into nature. It sounds like it was a wonderful day and I'm glad both you and Bryce took the time to nurture yourselves.

    And to answer your question: yes it only counts as one. ;)

    1. Ha! Oh good, just one makes me feel better about myself. It was a really special day, adventures and mishaps all rolled into one, a day of laughter and red cheeks and remembering that we don't have to always weigh ourselves down quite so much. Nature really is a wonderful balm for sadness. I actually went out for a walk in the woods today by myself to soothe my broken feelings. So healing!

  5. It looks like a much needed good day out (and thank you for sharing photos, because wow, what a beautiful area!). Escaping into nature is definitely a great way to get a chance to sort of breathe during the toughness of infertility.

  6. What fun! Dh & I need to get out & do more stuff like this too. Glad you had such a good time on your own terms!