Recently, someone asked me what I liked to do in my spare time. I almost snorted coffee through my nose. Spare time? What’s that?
I have two jobs. First and foremost, I’m a paramedic with the Monongahela County Emergency Medical Services here in southwestern Pennsylvania. I love my work. When a call comes in, the adrenaline rush is amazing. Often, we get to save lives and provide comfort. Sometimes, we don’t. There are times when, no matter how hard we try, our patient is too sick or too injured. But in those cases, I can still be with them, hold their hands, listen to them. Comfort them.
My second job is being a deputy coroner. My boss, County Coroner Franklin Marshall, approached me several years about taking on the task. In his mind, I would be able to pronounce time of death on those patients who were already deceased when I arrived at a scene. In my mind, I would be investigating homicides like they do on TV. Okay, I have to admit, I may have watched a few too many episodes of CSI. Reality turned out to be more like what Franklin envisioned than what I had. I do, however, take advantage of my title and “help” law enforcement whenever I can.
Which brings me back to the whole “spare time” issue. My EMS shifts are weird. I work 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. two nights a week, followed by a full weekend, followed by a week off. You’d think I’d have lots of free time. Except I have a farm. Sort of.
I used to board my horse on Mr. and Mrs. Kroll’s farm. They gave me cheap rent on half of their farmhouse and a stall in the barn in exchange for managing things. That was a fulltime job all by itself. We had a lot of boarders, plus we gave riding lessons. I was always busy feeding and cleaning stalls, but I love horses, so I didn’t mind.
Then they sold the property and I had to find a new home. My mother, who lives in Florida, “gave” me the old family farm which she’d recently inherited. Believe me, it wasn’t much of a gift. To say the house is something of a “handyman special” would be a drastic understatement. Last winter, we fixed up the barn well enough to keep my horse and three other former boarders from the Krolls’ place. The house? Working on it. In the meantime, I’m staying in town with Pete Adams, who happens to be the chief of police…and the man I’m in love with.
The best part of my farm is the location. It’s well off the main road and sits atop a rolling hillside surrounded by pasture and woods. Perfect for what I really prefer to do when I happen upon some true “spare time.” Horseback riding. Nothing calms my stress or clears my mind like taking my gelding out on the trails, either alone or with my cousin. (Pete doesn’t ride.) The smell of wildflowers in the spring or the damp leaves in the autumn…the sounds of birdsongs or just the breeze…gives me a feeling of peace like nothing else.
Which is why I don’t know what to do about Pete. I love him, and I know he loves me, but he’s not a country boy. He calls my farm a money pit and would like nothing more than for me to sell the place and stay in town. Financially, he’s right of course. But I can’t let go of it. Not yet…
Learn more about Annette Dashofy at www.annettedashofy.com.