Sunday, February 16, 2014


My outdoor retreat in disguise.
The sun is playing peek-a-boo among the clouds, making shadows race across the snow. While I was away there were two large snowfalls here and the cottage is knee-deep. Great long icicles hang from the eaves of the main house. Heaps and piles of snow line the drive and the pathway to the door. The mound on my outdoor table measured 23 inches.

The birds are few and the ones that come to the feeder are hungry and stay, hovering, fighting off newcomers. The feeder was emptied while I was gone and though it's full now, the regulars have found other places to eat.

Next week will find me minding the toddlers again until Friday when I return to my son's and the final week of his wife's absence. She's been studying yoga in India for the month of February, hoping to bring what she's learned back to her own studio. Meanwhile, my oldest son is journeying through Southeast Asia. It's been a month of transition, of travel, of reviving old skills. I've loved every minute of my time with my younger son and his two children.

The cottage is quiet. The refrigerator hums, the clock ticks. The sun slips in through the window and naps on the floor. The TV is silent, staring blankly at the opposite wall. Now and then I turn it on for the news and to watch Downton Abbey on a Sunday evening. The rest of the time the silence soothes me. I watch the sun rise and the sun set, putter at my daily tasks, spend as much time as possible out of doors and snuggle under my down quilt when the day is done. It's an introvert's dream life.

A friend once told me I was a tree in another life. I believe him.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I didn't mean to be gone so long, but I've been gone. My daughter-in-law is in India so I am filling in as Memere in Residence. It's been years since I've risen at 6:00 a.m. to make school lunches, see to homework and folders and backpacks, planned dinners around after school activities and kept to a demanding time schedule that includes walking a dog at regular intervals. Our dogs were simply let out to run about and do their business. When my kids were young there were leash laws only in towns and when I was a child, not even there. Until the first of February, 2014, I'd never held warm dog poop in a plastic covered hand.

Finding time for the computer between the care of two kids, loads of laundry, meal prep, and dog walking has been challenging. Not to mention that the computer is not an Apple so finding my way around the screen has been an adventure, too. At the moment the dog is sleeping at one end of the sofa and I'm at the other, typing. It's all good for the next five minutes.

It's been a cold snowy February so far and if the weathermen are right, it will be snowier before the week is out. A foot of snow last Wednesday closed area schools for the day. At one point during the storm I looked out the window and could barely make out the neighbor's house a dozen feet away. Used to being surrounded by woods and fields and comparative silence, living in a large town has presented me with a different view of life altogether. Streetlights shine in the windows at night. The sound of traffic is ever-present, people and dogs walk by constantly. Driving is a challenge. My small car is lost among the giant SUVs driven by moms with cell phones glued to their ears.

The days are hurrying by. Many of my friends are anxious to see the backside of winter but I like the cold and snow and wind. Already the daylight has lengthened appreciably and the sun is warm on my face. Though it was only 8 degrees this morning when we woke and there are icicles hanging from the swing seats, the eaves, and the muffler of my car, by mid-morning the temperature has risen into the 20s. Yesterday the dog and I startled a flock of fat robins in the back yard.

No photos for this post. I remembered my camera but not the cord. But you can picture Bella, her fur the color of cocoa powder, her tail tucked under her legs, curled at one end of the sofa, asleep in a splash of sunshine, see the trampled snow in the backyard speckled with robins and the ubiquitous squirrels, notice how the houses cluster along the edges of the streets, garbage pails lining the sidewalks like sentinels. The wind chimes on the front porch tinkle in the breeze, somewhere a car horn blares. The furnace kicks on and a rush of hot air comes up from the floor vents. The ice cube maker coughs. All is well.