mourning

We announced the new incarnation of Proximity Magazine last night. For our inaugural issue, we chose the theme, “morning.” I’ve been mulling that over for the past few weeks, wondering what I might write, were I not one of the editors. I guess you could say I’ve had morning on the mind.

 

I could use a good morning, instead of this, its homophonic twin. I do not like pity. Sometimes I choose not to share bad news, to avoid the look people get in their eyes, the down-turned corners at the mouth, the silent “I’m sorry”s. But we’re in a season of grief in our household, in our close and extended family. And after a while, it shows. We are tired. We are sad. We are going through the motions through which we must go, when all we want to do is to sit with our favorite loved ones, hold them and feed them, and remove ourselves from the rest of the spinning world for a while.

We are lucky. We don’t need to share details for good friends to see that something is wrong. And so pots of soup appear on our doorstep, and pans of apple crisp, and bags of chocolate, and bottles of wine, and homemade bread still warm in its foil. We’re not at the center of all this grief, but we love the people who are — they are the ones who deserve this kind of tending. In our heartache for them, our edges have frayed; and so we feel grateful for (and a little undeserving of) our friends’ ample kindness.

My aunt was, among many admirable things, a birder. This is a morning-person’s pursuit. It’s something I’ve always liked in theory. I don’t mind rising early — but in practice there is a problem. I hoard my mornings. I want to enjoy them in solitude, indoors, cupped in the corner of the couch with a mug of coffee and a book. Mornings can swell with potential — anything could happen. They say anticipation of something can inspire stronger feelings than the thing itself, and mornings are all about anticipating the possible. I want my mornings to last all day.

The evanescence that is so peculiar to this time of year — as the leaves pause in mid-color, the air flecked with cool — is most obvious in the mornings. By afternoon the sun is hot and bright, but in the early morning chill, you can sometimes smell the fireplace fumes left over from the night before. The air feels crisp like stationery paper; the cool blue sky feels closer to the ground, the clouds hang low over the trees, and a there is a general sense of unsettling, as we approach that tipping point into fall.

This has always been my favorite time of year. Early fall, to me, is synonymous with the start of school, and the ripe anticipation of new beginnings. And so we warm ourselves with soup and bread, made by people who love us; and we see glimpses of our own loved ones in the smallest things — a bird’s call, a painter’s brush, a snippet of song playing on the radio. And we know the leaves will fall, and the skies will darken, and the ground will freeze. But it will all come back again. And we should hope to be so blessed to see it.

snow day

The second biggest snow storm in Wisconsin history blew through town yesterday, causing us to cancel our eagerly-awaited Christmas trip to North Carolina, but giving us a surprise day of doing nothing but eating, walking the dog, and watching the snow fall (and fall and fall and fall — for more than 24 hours!).

how Joe spent his day
how I spent my day

We lost power last night around 7. The power company warned us we were among 4,000 homes without power and likely wouldn’t get it back until morning, so we hunkered down with a houseful of candles, played some music, and whipped up a pot of rosemary orzo, the only thing in our house that wouldn’t require opening the refrigerator. (Lucky for us, though, we were only without power for less than a couple of hours.)

The snow emergency lasts through Sunday morning, and though the skies were blue today, the roads are still a disastrous mix of ice and slush, so they canceled school for the second day in row — and because Joe’s office closes when the schools do, we stayed home and spent the day digging our house out of the snow drift.

post-blizzard
digging out the driveway
poor, buried front steps
our cedar tree snapped and buckled in the storm
our snow-logged back porch and chicken coop
it’s hard to believe it looked like THIS three months ago.
the snow from the porch became snow mountains
for scale, Joe amid the snow piles
I was really happy about shoveling that driveway!
four hours of shoveling later, and we’re still smiling