February 26: I could have stayed on the larger roads; instead I selected a narrow winding way that more resembled a paved path than an actual street. Pines hugged roadside ditches, which cautioned prudence. As I slowly made my way, I passed tiny old churches, tiny old houses and tiny old patches of fenced land. Whatever hustle and bustle animated the nearby highway had bypassed this parcel of creek, fields and woods. The road itself became my destination. I’ll come here again.
February 27: Dodging raindrops I darted in and out of stores in a charming Maryland town. In one of the town’s antique centers, I saw a dad and three young children peering intently into a jewelry case. “She might like this,” the dad said. Fifteen minutes later, in another antique store, I saw them again, clustered around the cashier watching as their purchase was wrapped in tissue. “Here you go, sir,” said the cashier as she handed the small package to the four-year old boy. As they left, I heard the little boy exclaim to his dad, “That lady called me sir!”
February 28: Our Sunday afternoon walk was washed out, but certainly not our post-walk beer. (I had to walk to the refrigerator, right?) With her deck dripping, my friend looked tentative and asked, “Should we just sit in the garage?” So we positioned camping chairs near the open air and watched the rain sluice down trees, streets and driveways. Someday, we’ll be snug in her living room or kitchen — and I’ll miss the feisty resourcefulness that forced us into a garage under blankets on a rainy February afternoon.
March 1: I walked through an old part of town that offered buildings from the last three centuries. The 18th century houses listed a little and snuggled tight and small in rows. The 19th century storefronts stood bold and varied as they boasted 21st century commerce. The early 20th century waterfront factory offered its two story windows to art studios. And at last I stood in front of what I immediately saw to be a converted fire house. My eyes traveled up from the garage door to the second-story brick festoons, to the stair-step peak, and on to the demilune at the top where the date would be: 1872? 1893? With pride and confidence of her place in history, the builder truthfully inscribed “1998.”
March 2: I was chopping onions in the chilly sunroom, wearing a mask. (Don’t ask why.) I chopped and chopped, shivering a bit. Eventually I carried a tidy stack of onions to the soup pot — and then it hit me: my eyes didn’t sting, my nose was sniffle-free and I had no symptoms of Acute Cutting Onion Syndrome. I assure you: even after COVID, I will keep a sturdy mask near my cutting board and fresh air blowing around me.
March 3: I phoned a man last.week who might make an improvement to our house. He apologized for missing my first call: “I was on the phone with my son. He’s a cowboy.” Today, the man showed me photos of his three sons. One son owns a dinner theatre circus troupe, and his photo shows a top hat-and-mustache impresario. Another son, with springs for feet, performs acrobatics at half-time Washington Wizards shows. And the cowboy leads hunters on horseback through twelve hours of Colorado beauty to distant camps. The last photo he showed me was the four of them together, giving no indication of any of that. And so I thought: what one thing — ordinary to us but wonderful to others — does each of us do that a photo never shows? Is it our famous cake? Our choir soprano? Keen film analysis? A perfect wave caught perfectly and ridden to shore?
March 4: The sun came out today, so I crept from under my rock to absorb a bit of light and warmth (having forgotten both). I dallied over lunch. Almost a mile away, a church bell released a single chime. One o’clock. And all is well.
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