I woke early on the first day of the new year, well before sunrise, which isn’t hard to do when the sun doesn’t show its face in the meadow much before eight o’clock.. After coaxing the fire back to life, I wandered around with my hands in the pockets of my pink fluffy housecoat, looking out the windows. Meadowlark started with these lovely round windows, built one winter in the garage of our townhouse in Waterloo when a boat in the meadow was still just a dream.
Running along the hull of the boat from bow to stern, each window offers a slightly different view of the world. That morning, one of the windows on the port side framed a picture of the moon setting low in the western sky, still so bright and full that it cast shadows, bare tree trunks and wiry branches, on the freshly fallen snow. A rabbit hopped out from under the boat, paused to sniff the air, then loped over to the workshop, slipped under the deck. There. Safe.
I wandered to the stern of the boat and looked out over the meadow, surely the sun will be up soon. Sun. What was I thinking. We hadn’t seen the sun in days. But there was a brightening in the eastern sky. I could make out weeds poking through the snow, the scrawny bush where the chipping sparrows nest. I scanned the meadow for signs of life. A deer, perhaps, stepping tentatively through the deep snow, pausing every few steps to look around, listen. Or a couple of turkeys, maybe a stray porcupine, or perhaps even a fox, its red tail leaving brush marks in the snow. I would even welcome the sight of a coyote skulking along the tree line.
But nothing. I know they’re out there, these creatures. Every morning the snow in the meadow is crisscrossed with tracks, but we rarely see them.
Brighter and brighter, then a glimmer behind the trees and suddenly a sliver of light. I watched as the sun rose slowly, hung for a minute above the trees, washing the sky with gold before disappearing into the cloud cover.
It filled me with hope for the year ahead.
The year gone by wasn’t all fear and uncertainty. Being at Meadowlark for the turns of the seasons was a joy, watching winter turn slowly to spring, leaves beginning to appear on the trees, the bluebirds suddenly reappearing to claim their nesting box, the asparagus going to seed, bright red berries on graceful fronds, and oh the glorious maples. Then winter again, all colour fading from the landscape, rain for days on end, then snow.
It won’t always be like this. I gather up the things I’m looking forward to in the coming year, string them together like pearls, keep them in my pocket.
Campfires with friends and family—after the lockdown and at a safe distance, of course, though surely wood smoke provides some kind of protection.
Playing in the woods with our granddaughter Keira, making her a crown, though this year I think it will be adorned with colourful autumn leaves and berries rather than apple blossoms.
Going driving with my sister Sandy, cruising the swamp roads looking for snapping turtles.
Sitting on the dock with Brenda, watching her little dog Lila try to catch frogs.
And maybe even going sailing again before the year is out.
But for the next few months, our world will be pretty small. Tomorrow we move to the Ladybank Schoolhouse and leave hauling water and splitting firewood behind. We’ll have hot running water. A flush toilet. Central heating. A dishwasher, for goodness sake.
I’ll be happy writing my book, attempting a ridiculously complicated needlework project (I’ve never done needlework before), trying to teaching myself to paint with watercolours.
I’m not sure how Chris will manage, especially with the ski hills closed indefinitely. We’ll snowshoe around Ladybank Farm and we’ll trudge in here from time to time so he can cut down a few trees. He has promised to cook dinner once a week (just thought I’d get that in writing here….) And he’s learning French, so that will keep him occupied.
Wifi. Did I mention the schoolhouse has wifi?
Chris will be fine.
Of course he’s concerned about our sailboat, sitting in a boat yard in Florida—we both are. It will be fall at the earliest before we get back to it. A steel boat needs constant maintenance, and though we have a canvas cover over the boat, the dampness and humidity will find its way in. After a season in Cuba and a rough sail back to the U.S., the boat was in pretty rough shape when we left it. A year and a half on the hard will have done little to improve it.
But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small enough thing to worry about. As an engineer I know is fond of saying, we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it.