Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Such a Year

 Such a year it has been. And yet, we are thankful.

The days, the months, pass in a haze of Zoom meetings. Is it Thursday again, already? Time wobbles, wraps itself in the slower rhythms of seasonal change—noticeable by the color and crispness of leaves, nodding seed heads in the pasture, the clarity of air and angle of sunlight.

We give thanks for the crystalline shards of October light, even though they now come in November.

How simple it is, however, to be thankful. To name and number every grace, every reprieve.

We give thanks for the living members of our family, even as we grieve for the ones who have left us.

So many have left us. Perhaps it is a measure of our own aging. We knew the pace of that before, but this year has given it a face, a name. Many names.

Our children grow up; as do our grandchildren—more to be thankful for, although in isolation we miss so many precious moments. Suddenly my grandson is eight and running for class office. Suddenly my granddaughter is scoring goals in five-year-old soccer. They were babies only last year, weren’t they?

Some families bear the separation with minimal harm to the spirit. But some truly suffer, and fling themselves away from isolation with determined optimism. They gather their loved ones from far flung towns and cities. They take selfies bathed in each other’s breath.

We give thanks for those who, doing so, cause no harm to themselves or others.

I’m writing this at the beginning of Thanksgiving week as my son and his family begin their car trip to the home of the New York grandparents. In other years, they would be trekking to Texas for a few days of closeness and connection. I am thankful, though, that the grandchildren’s Nana and Pop-Pop have been within car distance through this awful Covid Time, their home a refuge when Manhattan shut down, and a familiar, loved place to visit for a holiday that is so sad for so many, just now.

We hear that a vaccine may deliver us next year from our solitude. If they prioritize the oldest Americans, surely my husband, at 99, would qualify. I suspect, however, that the oldest old who remain at home, as he does, instead of in a facility, will find vaccination difficult to arrange.

Besides, there are others at high risk, by reason of work primarily. They should have primacy.

So our personal race, his and mine, continues. A race against entropy. The pace as slow as the spinning Earth can make it.

This slow: The golden garden spider (Argiope aurantia) appears at the entrance to our porch. Every morning she is hanging there, producing her egg cases. And this morning, she is gone. The egg cases remain.

Redbirds, eager customers, disappear from the feeders. And then we turn onto a path across the unmown pasture and flush twelve of them, busy in the process of diversifying their diet.

We are thankful for them, and for the paling broad leaves of American Beautyberry that brighten stretches of our woods. And for the tips of daffodils that poke up in the rose bed like asparagus.

In this difficult year, we go small in our embrace of life. Our intensity expands.

(Appeared during Thanksgiving week in the Fayette County Record)

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