Life is returning to my tundra. Like old friends, the cooing of the mourning dove greets me, mixed with the peenting of the snipe on my walks down gravel roads. Robins land on the overhead wires. Mallards swim along the roadside ditch ponds left by the snow melt and spring rains. I take my rake and scratch the thatch from Mother Earth’s back, exposing the first hepaticas. Trilliums pop up among last year’s oak leaves.
By May, I’m always ready for a change, but I’m feeling a new urgency with this spring’s delay. After two years of dormancy, my psyche and my body are slow to respond. These months of near sequestered living put blinders on my eyes and walls around my dreams. After so many frozen emotions, frozen plans, and frozen hopes, my system requires a methodical melt dripping back into the river of time.
Instead, I sense a flood. A flood of incoming events, postponed over the last two years, now trying to sort themselves out over the once empty calendar squares. I begin to play this game of musical chairs, dashing to find a place on the schedule while time is being whipped out from under me. I tense up when I see more than two requirements on a single day, requirements being defined as involving someone beside myself at a specific time and place. Besides making the commitment, they involve make-up, a decent outfit, and calculating round-trip transport.
I am accustomed to eating when I am hungry. I wear comfortable clothing and slippers. I’m unsure if it is ritual or rut, but I do my yoga, eat my hot breakfast, and answer emails at nearly the same time every day. I’ve burrowed into a life of walking with neighbors, writing letters, watching a Spanish telenovela, but only after dark, then doing dishes before bedtime.
It is soothing to slow down. I have felt freedoms to turn down invites, committees, and the making of future plans. With the Florida judge banning the CDC ruling, despite her not having any scientific nor medical background, masks were thrown to the wind almost immediately. Masks are not a problem in the woods, but is it wise to be that hasty on airplanes? I hesitate to poke my head out of my turtle shell, while simultaneously feeling the urge to ditch the shell and get with the speedy rabbit. But, wait. In the end, the tortoise’s persistence won the day.
Persistence. It’s time to booster the booster. With that and wearing my mask, would it be alright to cross borders into another country? Once there, what if I test positive? Would I be quarantined for five days or fourteen? What if I got really sick? How long would I be stuck? Being stuck in Spain is an oxymoron, but if I couldn’t be with friends tasting tapas and testing tinto, it would not be my preference.
Balance. In the quest to melt slowly out of my physical and mental deep freeze, I venture out. Sometimes I forget to put on my mask at the grocery store, my personal preference to protect myself and others. I went to a concert, masked and distancing still the protocol. There were thirty of us at the funeral, unmasked, but in a large room. Restaurants are an option for me again. Even as I want to forget the dark cloud of COVID, I want to remember.
As the calendar fills with postponed funerals and weddings; vacations, here and abroad; the committee meeting, in-person and on Zoom, I want to cherish the hugs. I want to rejoice at being in each other’s homes again. It is marvelous to open our doors and invite life back in.
While inviting plans and dreams back in, the sages of the ages seem to agree that we should live in the moment. With that, I listen to the thunder and watch the grosbeak, pileated, and warblers fluffing out their feathers. The cardinal pair stayed all winter, while the goldfinches are freshly returned. Even in the rain, they sing out from amongst the branches. Listen carefully.
I think they are chirping: Savor the Journey – or some equivalent translation.
*Savor the Journey was a favorite saying of Audrae Gruber, a fellow writer. She was to be included in my June Her Voice article on “Women over 90,” a tribute to our elder role-models along with their favorite sayings. Sadly, Audrae passed away in April, 2022, before publication. She will instead, be remembered with a poem, written by another member of our Homer Writers group, Sue Smith-Grier. Stay tuned.