Quarantining

Every morning when I wake in the dark, I think, I’m not sick, a revelation that begins the day. Although I’m not headed out of the house, for any number of days, I’m up especially early these days, thinking of Salinger’s Zooey telling Franny not to fritter away the best part of the day, buddy.

It’s all jumbled up here, even more than the past year. I am so grateful my daughter isn’t sick, that she’s counting down her quarantine days not with pleasure, but with her trademark resolution, her will do, but I’m plotting my summer plans….

For me, it’s wait and watch, a negative test followed by another test, results in 36-72 hours. Over us hovers the thought: which way will this go?

I set up work on the kitchen table, then move to the back porch in the afternoon. My daughter disappears on a long walk through the woods. At the tail end of winter, we haven’t pulled any outdoor furniture from the barn yet, so I sweep the boards and lean against what remains of the railing broken by falling ice.

In the late afternoon, I’m painting the interior windows of my upstairs office when I see the town librarian walking up my road with two books she’s leaving for me. I holler down, Thank you! We talk for a moment through my screen, and then she’s on her way again.

Like the rest of the world, I keep listening to the trial in Minnesota. My daughter appears and leans in the doorway, watching me. I tell her I’m going to savor this quarantine with her, that we’ll be talking about it someday, years hence, when she has twins and a baby and I show up to change diapers.

That’s wonderful, she tells me, and you have paint on your elbow.

Thank you so much, my readers, for writing in. It means the world to me.

Kitchen office, complete with (working) cat and borrowed tortilla press.

Strange Bed

The forecast for this Vermont Christmas is 100% rain, which pretty much sums up the year 2020.

From work, I take home a donated cat bed, lined with a downy fuzz and nearly new. When I set it on our living room floor, our cats approach with caution, sniffing, and then begin growling, doubtlessly sensing some former occupant.

A dog? Or simply some stranger?

All evening, our pampered house cats pace around the bed, suspicious. But, in the morning, I see our tabby Acer curled up in the bed’s center, sleeping, paws over shut eyes, tail tucked beneath his chin.

And so it: 2020 and on into 2021. Wherever each of you are, dear readers, I hope you take some comfort in this strange bed of where we are, as our planet slowly turns back toward the light, again.

Cutting with the ax,
I was surprised at the scent.
The winter trees.

— Buson

Hardwick, Vermont