in the dead of winter

Just another Groundhog day in a runaway pandemic—cooped up with a nonverbal kid who suffers a severe and chronic condition. Waiting with bated breath for a covid vaccination. Unsure why our son's not yet able to get it. Feeling the need for a shot in the arm myself, both literally and figuratively. This pandemic has laid hardship on top of hardship. Everyone has their struggles, is treading water in some way. I ache to see familiar faces, to hear from people, to touch and hug loved ones. 

Driving around to pass the time, which has expanded like elastic in this pandemic. Creeping along at twenty to thirty miles an hour drinking in the scenery. Studying the colors of a cloudy day in the dead of winter: white, jade, chestnut, charcoal, stone, pine, pewter, juniper, straw, bronze, rouge. Subdued yet beautiful. I must remind myself to be mindful. Appreciate the mundane details. Especially in February in Maine.

Turning up the volume on songs I grew up with and ones much newer. The musicians croon about love, heartache, dreams, loss. Sometimes I sing along until my throat feels swollen. The tunes send my mood up and down like the lonely roads we travel along. There are moments when I feel like weeping. Sometimes I do. Life is a roller coaster. So many hills and hollows provoking excitement and unsettling feelings, yet seemingly leading nowhere. I even keep writing about the same humdrum stuff hoping to glean or give something new. Not sure if I do. Still, life can be fascinating in its surprises and challenges. And at least I can still dream and feel deeply.

I reach back to give my son a grape and he grabs my hand just to hold it. A smile spreads across his face. Even with his fuzzy little mustache, he's cute. He's in a good mood despite the grand mal he had two mornings ago. For the former, I am grateful. The latter can go to hell.

Thinking about yesteryear, I get a text from a dear friend whose wedding I was in twenty-three years ago. Another lifetime. Back when days seemed more fluid, pliable, full of hope and opportunity. Back when the California sun made getting out and around so much easier than here. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I don't think so.

In the dead of winter with another storm looming, the optimist in me sets my sights on warmer weather. We're headed in the right direction. At a crest in a snaking lane I look to the horizon over a body of water and see a section of sky where the sun glows through. The water is nearly the shade of a tropic lagoon. Blue and green, colors of spring. The time when bodies thaw and can move more easily. My brother tells me we may be seventy percent through the pandemic. Like me, he sees the glass half-full. Maybe it won't be long until Calvin goes back to school. Maybe soon I'll be able to escape these four walls for some sort of adventure or comfort. Maybe soon I can work in the garden. I'm aching to dig in the earth, to mow the lawn and prune. Maybe it won't be long until I'll see old friends and make new ones. Maybe one day soon I can stand face to face and embrace you.

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