On Staying at Home

Once upon a time, I enjoyed going to the neighborhood library, talking to the librarian who’d pause to discuss subjects like changes in the neighborhood or of her own experiments trying out a new recipe she’d like to share. I also enjoyed rummaging through the antique store where I’d spot Depression glass or I’d be lucky to find a pretty hand-embroidered piece of linen, things hard for me to pass up.

Then, on a few sunny Sundays, I enjoyed watching the neighborhood kids racing past on bikes or skate boards, or neighbors out for a stroll, pausing to say, ‘hello’.

The small bakery just down the block attracts a line of customers hoping to get their famous Saturday special of cinnamon buns and freshly baked biscuits stuffed with raspberry jam. Then, white bags in hand, they’d pass my house and wave happily with their purchases.

My heart grows heavy with the announcement that the library will remain closed, the bakery will operate, temporarily, with ‘take out’ only, and the antique store has closed its door forever. The weeks have turned into months and another pandemic year is in play. Before the stay-at-home order went into effect there were many points in our existence that disrupted our lives: transportation worries, traffic jams, bad weather, flu epidemics – and home problems like the flood in my basement and waiting for the plumber who was always late.

But, there were many moments that were enjoyable and still are, like watching the birds peck at the seeds that seemed to fall to the grass more than in their tummies. I’d try to count how many kinds of birds visit my yard. So far, I have counted nine different types, Juncos being my favorite. But, there’s always a neighbor who has counted more. Well, I don’t count the chicken hawks overhead. But, those in my yard chirp happily, making me happy, too.

For four years I’d been feeding a stray cat we named Billy. At first, we had called him Lillie after one of my own cats, now deceased, who had the same markings. But, my daughter informed us that, ‘She’ was a ‘He”. So, Lillie became Billy. I tried often to entice him to come into the house. Sissy didn’t seem to mind his presence. But, once indoors, he’d yowl and scratch at the door to get out. Realizing that Billy is a natural hobo, and I’m not one to force anyone against their ways, I opened the door and he ran out like his long awaited reprieve just got approved by the sheriff. But, despite the weather Billy is fed steadily, once or twice a day for four years now, hot summers and icy winters. Hey! He chose!

Then, I’d look around the yard to survey what I should add to the garden during this year’s springtime. The catalogs have been arriving and they feature very attractive plants. Each one ignites my imagination as I dream of a prize-winning display.

It is in these moments that I begin to think of broader ways in which to nourish my deflated ego. I make frequent phone calls to friends and relatives hoping I might lift up an equally deflated ego. I wish we could live in Mayberry, RFD. But, since that idea is null and void, we have to learn that there is no sense in dwelling on fantasies. Although I can no longer go to the library where I liked wandering on the computer or finding a new book to read, or meet with a friend for coffee in that lovely bakery with benches outside in the spring and summer, I had to convince myself that this pandemic pandemonium, this shift in our life and the stay-at-home existence, is only a phase. It just may be a time to focus more clearly on matters that are more important, an opportunity to make needed changes in the future, ultimately, to pause to reflect on our friendships and pursuits. What we choose to do tomorrow is not an impractical undertaking. The bakery that is now closed will reopen and their famous raspberry filled biscuits and cinnamon buns will be on sale again. I have adjusted to the fact that not everything will be the same. But, just seeing that poster still advertising those baked goods whispers to me that, most assuredly, everything will be Ok. Maybe, more good things will surface. Spring is sure to come. So, too, will the seeds and Lavender plants I ordered from that catalog.


JANUARY 22ND: On this day in 1788, Lord Byron (née George Gordon Byron), the famous philhellene, poet, and satirist, was born in London, England.

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