It was a sunny six degrees by the time I got Thing2 to the school door, and, after a weekend of sub- sub-zero temps, the sky was so gloriously blue that I had to stop myself from blurted out how much it felt like spring. Knowing the mention of the five-letter S word would scare it off like showing a rodent its shadow in February, I silently ran my errands, making mental paintings of the trees and the shadows on the still-crisp snow.
Even a text from Thing1 reminding me he needed to practice driving stick (in mom’s car of course) couldn’t dim the feeling that it was as close to a perfect day as anyone could ask for. I’m not religious, but whenever Mother Nature is putting on a show like that, the greeting from Psalms that opened services at my parents’ old church runs through my head:
“This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Whether you think a beautiful day was made or just happened, there’s something to be said for the missive to rejoice and be glad for it.
I admit to being a bit of a worrier. I worry about Thing1’s healthcare prospects as he’s starting to leave the nest. I worry about ever being able to retire. I worry about the growing number of displaced people around the world or if we’re moving closer to blowing up the human race with every single day.
I’ve been guilty of not rejoicing for days on end and even contemplating throwing away the rest of my personal collection of days.
My failure to rejoice in the moment — even for just a moment each day — is being rectified. Over the last few months I decided to make a change in my life and go back to school so that, in the long run, I would have more time to work on art and to feel like my life work will make a contribution. I’ve enjoyed school as an adult but as soon as I was immersed in study, I felt as if a fog was clearing.
The world started opening up, and I suddenly started to see the possibilities as well as the dangers. Despite a new mountain of work and all the same worries, I had more energy everyday. Without even realizing it, I was rejoicing.
Even if yesterday had been the last day, not rejoicing in the beauty of sun on the snow would not minimize any current troubles. Acknowledging the gift of that day, however is a recognition that there is always beauty, and worry cannot diminish it, even if it tries to obstruct it sometimes.
It was -17 this morning — so cold it froze the batteries in our brand new weather station.
These are the mornings our wood cookstove-heated earth-sheltered house wraps us up in a snowbound chrysalis. I got to pat myself on the back for having thought to get the wood bins overloaded Friday morning before the cold snap known as ‘Winter’ began in earnest.
As I cooked a farmer’s breakfast for our family who no longer has responsibility for anything resembling a farm animal (unless reformed barn cats count) or any intention of leaving the house for chores or pleasure until the mercury hits zero, I feel like Ma Ingalls in the Little House books. Then I remember that by this hour of an ordinary 17-below morning that Ma would have already done the farm chores and still be having a good hair day.
One of the facts of country life is that other critters live in the woods with your pets. Snoop, our fat black feline god of pleasure found out in August that fishers weren’t as easy to escape as bears, and we saw him no more.
We all mourned him – especially Thing2 who spends more time on the floor with the animals than anyone else in the family.
The house mice tried to feign sympathy, but there was no mourning period in the nooks and crannies behind the walls. We knew we needed a new mouser.
Thing1’s girlfriend’s (yes you read that right) family owns a few barn cats who, in addition to being excellent mousers were prolific breeders this summer. So a few Saturday ago after I got off work, we decided to see if any of the kittens could be coaxed into the slothful life of a housecat.
We had two semi-willing takers (bribed with a bit of catnip) and named them Lady Jane (because she was so grey and seemingly dainty) and Gentleman Jim who seems more like Jim-Bob now.
We got them home and Jim-Bob promptly swatted Katy-the-Wondering-Dog’s nose, confirming her opinion that cats are freaking crazy and making us wonder if a barn cat could be happy as a housecat.
It took them less than an hour to convert.
Jim-Bob unlocked the age-old wisdom of cats that tells them that humans are bad hunters but excellent servants and sampled every lap and couch. Jane — not sure if she or Katy would be the bigger wimp — held back a bit, waiting until bedtime to snuggle up with the human of her choice (Thing2 in this case).
There’s something magical about an animal that can live in the wild but still prefers to occupy the laps of very unmagical humans. I don’t know if it was magic or just the vibration from the purring, but it didn’t take us more than an hour to realize how much we had missed having cats, even if only for a month or two.
There were a few bigger events in the area so our corner of Vermont was quiet for this stage of the summer tourist season. It wasn’t the most profitable morning, but as I sat across the street from the Episcopal church in Arlington, I was sure I could see the leaves of the maple tree in front of the churchyard cemetery changing color.
It marked the first official day of autumn for me — an unexpected and pleasant little bit of something that cost absolutely nothing.