Across the cemetery from where we live, the teenagers have moved out into a tent. They’re cocooning out the coronavirus.
Not such a bad idea, I think.
My daughter, to keep herself amused while I’m working, creates a scrapbook of her friends, taking her time pasting in gold numbers and colored bits of paper.
I’ve lost track of days, of weeks; we’re somewhere in April, and that’s about the best I can do. Some days my older daughter disappears to work; some days my younger daughter disappears for a virtual version of school.
I keep on working. The squill blooms. The peepers sing.
How many weeks are we into the Stay Home order? Thursday, I let my daughter cut my hair in the kitchen. Delighted, she made her first snip in the back and said, Whoops.
What does it matter, anyway? It’s just hair.
In the evenings, we walk up a nearby dirt road, seeking the sunset. Hardly anyone is out — a few passing pickups, often with a driver wearing a mask. Nearly every night, we see deer in the hayfields that are greening, bit by bit.
Today, kayaking, we saw a bald eagle in a white pine. We paused, watching as the eagle dove over the shallow end, flashing its enormous wingspan above a family of swimming ducks, then swept back into the tree.
One thing I’ll remember most about this time — and perhaps most fondly — are the endless walks. No complaints, because why bother? This is where we are now.
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
Rain pours. My daughters return, full of excitement of the ocean, of staying in a city, of a friend, and — for my younger daughter — driving around with my brother, stepping into his cool life.
They have brought me a wooden box of green tea and a tin of red goji berry tea.
Time seems suspended in the endlessness of January, but it’s not: the rain will slick to a landscape of ice, the days are already lengthening.
Again, from poet Kim Stafford:
This stepping out of the nest thing?
Wow, has the internet changed the world from my 20th-century youth. Via I-phone, my rural Vermont daughters rented their first solo AirBnb in Maine, to check out a college. My older daughter texts: It’s busy here. So much is happening.
Ocean, lights, dinner in a hippie place kind of like Vermont.
Meanwhile, the cats and I have holed up in my office, eating curry and drinking espresso. Plenty happening here, too.
I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
Photo by Molly S.
On the eve of another year, my daughters and I talk about that trite tradition — resolutions — and I think of these lines from Rilke:
Whoever you are: some evening take a step
out of your house, which you know so well.
Enormous space is near, your house lies where it begins,
whoever you are…
The world is immense…
Not so long ago, walking outside our house meant wandering down our dirt road and looking for pebbles or newts. While the big world has always been around us, how much mightier the possibilities seem now. And that, I suppose, sums up where we are now.
Early Friday morning, finished with my few weekly minutes of food co-op working member hours, I stand at the window with an employee, watching the rain.
Rain in December. At home, my daughters are eating breakfast and complaining about the coal-colored day. Then yesterday, about the time I’m folding up my laptop and thinking of chopping a cabbage for dinner, my daughters return home, full of joy about a long run and exploring the edge of Lake Champlain.
End of December: I’d hung the laundered Christmas tablecloth on the clothesline to dry. December thaw in Vermont. Here’s a piece I wrote in State 14 about working for the census, long ago when I was a brand-new mama.
This cold winter night,
that old wooden-head buddha
would make a nice fire.