Middlefield 3 an imperfect section but still I want you to see this

Starting Now





There is something sentimental at the heart of any museum, whose reason for being is to celebrate the affection we feel for objects that were once part of everyday life.

Paul Goldberger







What We Wanted Here, Redux


When We

Are Looking For Somewhere

When We

Are In A Lucky Position

To Be Able

To Look For Somewhere

To Leave Where We Are

To Change Where We Belong



When We Consciously

Not So Consciously

Un isn’t Right

Begin to Search For Some Place

Not To Belong Exactly

But To Feel A Certain Way

What Way Is That

Asked Martha a Policewoman

When I Told Her My Theory About Why

She and I

Both Chose This Place to Live

And I was Guessing It Was

To Feel A Certain Way

I Wanted Something Different She Said

Easy To Clean Ranch

Where I Wouldn’t Have

To Walk Up and Down When I Got Old

I’m Old Now And I’mv Walking Up And Down

I Didn’t Know I Had Knees

Until I Turned Sixty Five Said Martha

Why Did You Come Here

I Asked  Martha

I Fell In Love She Said

You Wouldn’t Think I

Was The Love Type Would You?







The Catskills is a hoary place, wirey and old, eternally


vacationed, a draw for so many of us, year after year


after year: Communists, Hasidim, Macy’s workers, fire


fighters, Irish musicians, poets, historians, iron


workers, police, housecleaners, teachers, builders


and electricians have all been drawn to these very same


hills, for beauty, for respite, for summer hamburgers


made on a simple grill. For hamburgers that


absorb a lot of ketchup. Unlike the Berkshires, lyrical,


manicured, well-landscaped, well-scrubbed, where


Yo Yo Ma’s renditions become an unexpected part of the


daily landscape, these hills hold a different song.


The Berkshires, on both sides, New York and


Massachusetts, is liberal and forgiving, one of those


places full of used book stores and passable restaurants.


Not so our side, where opinions are vociferous and


flinty, and where neighbors don’t agree about too much.


In between the East and West sides of the well-painted


Hudson River, right on top of the river itself is the odd


town of Henry, a first name town where Henry Hudson


himself sailed, in his Half Moon boat, and settled, at


least for a while.



What makes one place more appealing than another?


Places could be are just like people that way. Maybe it’s


all just a question of taste, and class, and culture, and


the books you read, as well as the books you didn’t.



A woman came to dinner last night and because her


name was Sophie I assumed I would like her who


wouldn’t like someone anyone named Sophie but as she


entered when she walked in I knew I didn’t like her and


wasn’t going to either.



We liked Henry in the beginning. It could just be a


Question of mood, or season. One person’s paradise is


Of course another’s hell. We loved Henry even, loved


It from the start, years ago. It was too poor a city for


urban development, for beautiful old brick buildings to


be knocked down. Years ago, it was a small city in


disarray, shabby and chaotic, more poor than rich,


fried fish, cheap liquor stores with four dollar bottles


of wine. Nobody used the word varietal. There were


no hipsters or small straw hats on men.


A big Salvation Army sat next door to a Burger King.


There were one or two outsiders in town, but very few.


We visited an interior decorator once, in a spectacular


old house, 1790 is what he said.


He’d painted the outside a memorable pink. A difficult


man with a beautiful eye, I know not one of us even Zen


masters who espouse simplicity as a credo not one of us


is simple. His relationship to Henry was non-existent.


Although Henry was his address, where he was and wasn’t.


He lived inside his bright pink house, eating big meals


With city friends, who’d visit all the time.



Over the years, Henry changed, from Salvation Army to


high end furniture, to 50’s modern emporiums, to wine


shops with vintners. The old Main Street, still charming,


no longer shabby or disgruntled, has become a


destination: restored, preserved. There’s even a spa


and an expensive downtown hotel.



My friend Mitchell, a legal services lawyer who works


with poor country people calls us seconders, people who


have second homes. He said that last Saturday he was


in an Italian grocery store with beautiful bread and


home cured olives. Many people were waiting in line.


Mitchell walks between two worlds himself. A well-pressed Pilates looking mother who used the word abs


In conversation with her friend was annoyed, Mitchell


Said, because of the crowds so she announced, “why


don’t some of you come during the week.” The crowd


In line for olives looked unhappy, but no one answered.


No one moved over either.





When we started it we were four adults and two very


small children. Two adopted boys from Paraguay


and Guatemala. Adam and Eli. One year apart.


Nick and I live with


the boys in a very small apartment that could be


described as charming if charm means small and


picturesque. It’s a long thin line with rooms down


the middle and windows on the western wall.


The boys have


always shared a room, and their room has a window


facing a courtyard, a city courtyards with a


tree smack in the center. The tree looks a little like an


art object: some famous conceptual artist’s idea of what


a city tree might look like if it weren’t quite a tree. The


title easy to imagine: Maybe A Tree.




All four of us are anxious nervous city types.


We aren’t a hiking camping family. We have never


Canoed and my guess is we probably never will.

Kayaking either.






We are happiest walking around, just walking.



The house impulse was not in our DNA. I have an


aunt who told me years ago that you need a house


to have a life. I never wanted a house. Nick didn’t


either. A house represents so many things that neither


of us know. Plumbing for instance. Even the word


makes me nervous. To plumb sounds ominous, as


in plumbing the depths.


And yet. There is always an and yet.



We each have a very good friend, a friend we talk to


every single day.   Nick and I went to different


colleges, but our every day friends are from that time


when we were young, when we had time and when life


was more or less unpredictable.



Nick plays guitar but he earns his living working on


music in movies. He’s a sound editor, and sounds are


his life. His life has always been well-scored, which may


be one of the reasons why I loved him in the beginning.


Can you love someone’s soundtrack? Maybe yes.


His college friend Aaron is a labor historian,


one of those thin mustachioed men with earth colored


clothes who is infatuated with the past. With workers


struggles and especially workers victories, with


Wobblies and all the speeches of Emma Goldman and


Clara Lemlich.


My oldest friend is Manuel Clemente. Oddly enough


that’s exactly how he looks. We met in Milton class in


college. Neither of us liked Milton all that much.


Not liking Milton bound us together. For life.



When we four decided that we wanted a house, it


Was a half-hearted decision. One of those decisions


you don’t realize until many years later could change


your life.





Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.

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