"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Take a Moment to Breathe

A moment of Grace. That’s how I’m framing this time as I shelter in place, hoping to delay my exposure to Covid-19 until my doctor and hospital have time to restock.

We’re blessed. We have a few acres of grass and woods that always need attention. My husband and I spent the first days of our sheltering experience replacing a fence along the western property. The process of pulling out choked cucumber vines, dead incense cedar and blackberry vines occupied our time. Physical work is a fine way to blunt fears of mortality as I tripped over roots and tree stumps hiding in the brambles. Now the fence is taking shape. I can look at our progress and see something positive from the past week.

We spent Day Two on a Jeep trip into the backwoods, armed with a topo map and a roll of pink ribbon, our intention to find a trail into an abandoned gold mine that we’ve long intended to explore. We followed a maze of gravel roads to a locked gate where we can walk to the mine. But that will wait for another day.

In the country, sheltering in place has a bit of wiggle room. We take our dogs down to the river to swim. We take long walks, considering our past and our future. We discuss friends we’ve known along the way, many of whom have left us for better pastures. It’s a sweet-sad time that seems more like Fall than the dawn of Spring. It occurs to me that I may miss Easter with my children and grandchildren, the youngest grandchild’s birthday.

With the fence complete, we’re working on a woodshed. We cemented the posts and have the braces ready to go up. It will feel great having the open shed finished. With no distractions, the job is progressing nicely. We will spend today outdoors, with woodpeckers tapping on a nearby oak and a gentle hue of trillium wildflowers blooming in the woods. The creek is still running, sluggish but determined. The overhead clouds that define Oregon are a constant delight, filtering bright sunlight one moment, harbingers of gentle rain the next.

We’ve watched a few U-Tube episodes of Shaun James in his outdoor cabin in British Columbia. I followed his lead yesterday with a pizza cobbled together from veggies and salami, and baked in a cast iron skillet. The crust was crisp and the cheese bubbling when I served it. Later, I watched Husband chop wood with his axe. It made “sheltering in place” feel so very earthy. I plan to make apple tarts with my last two green apples--a little comfort food for a man who loves his pie. I notice we are on our best behaviors, each of us a bit more cheerful, patient and clever—as we contemplate another few weeks of solitude.

I pulled down my leather bound set of classic novels I purchased in the 1970s, intending to read them in order, until work, motherhood and and crazy interrupted my good intentions. I managed to read the volume of short stories by de Maupassant and a bit of Poe. But I’m determined to read all seven volumes, start to finish while we shelter. A promise after all these years.

On our last trip to town, we stopped at Panda Express and got take-out. Drove to a park and had a tailgate picnic. Husband opened his fortune cookie and read something about his future looking bright and unstoppable. I opened mine. With his silent expectation mounting, I pretended to be shocked. “It says ‘Ha Ha. I sick!’” It took him a few seconds before he started laughing. We both laughed for another five. Call it funny, morbid or release, the laughter was pure and real and healing.

So stay safe, laugh and try to make this time count. It really is a special Grace.