I sit here at my desk looking out on yet another gray November day. The clouds hang heavy, there are scattered rain showers, and the lake, for once, is calm. Before too long I'll go out for a walk, warm enough to be pleasant. Yesterday I was also sitting here at my desk, and I watched a fog bank roll in just as the sun was setting -- peeking out behind clouds only to disappear. That's November for you.
It's quiet. Just like it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I live alone now, the first time in over 35 years. The only sounds I hear (when I'm not watching Netflix or listening to music) are a periodic cat meow, squeak or purr, birds chirping at the feeder, an occasional passing vehicle, and the wind in the trees. I am as close as I can be to the natural world without actually being outside. I miss being outside. I miss working in the garden, swimming, kayaking, and having the windows open all the time. But I am very thankful for my strong, secure, and warm house.
Yesterday when the fog bank rolled in, I was having a Zoom call with Sky. With the escalating cases of Covid here in Vermont, we're back on lockdown, and Sky's facility cancelled all in-person visits. This was our second Zoom visit, and how much better they are than in-person visits! What a gift that I don't have to decide whether or not to make the trek to struggle with yet another uncomfortable, painful and frustrating in-person visit. On Zoom, Sky can actually see me, and I him. He's in the secure space of his own room, door closed, quiet and peaceful. A staff member is with him, to handle the technology, and answer any questions. Sky can end the call whenever he wants to. I can see his room. It feels much less stressful for both of us.
He didn't say much yesterday. He didn't realize/remember that it was Thanksgiving, despite having just had the big holiday meal with the other residents. Sky was never a big Thanksgiving fan, though he always liked to eat what was served. Then when I was the minister in Derby Line, he decided the best way to celebrate the holiday was to offer a free meal to anyone who wanted one. He gathered volunteers, and procured donated food from stores and farmers. The ladies of the church got out the white tablecloths and festive china and set the tables. The children in Sunday School made placemats, and everyone cooked. The first year we served 35 people, and six years later, 225. It was great. When I reminded him of all that, he just smiled, nodded.
"You're very quiet today," I said.
"I just want to look at you," he replied.
And for that I am extraordinarily thankful.
There is so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for Zoom. I am thankful for the caring staff who watch over Sky for me. I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. I am thankful for Tubby and Pogo, my feline housemates. I am thankful for all the natural world has to offer -- sun and clouds, wind and rain, snow and trees, wild food and good soil to grow more. Chickadees and squirrels, geese and ducks, worms and ladybugs, spiders and frogs. Rocks and mountains, lakes and rivers, bogs and oceans.
Even though these strange times keep us from doing so many things we would love to do, we can be thankful for the simple pleasures -- a hot cup of coffee or tea, the peacefulness of a snowfall, snuggles with a pet, a good book, a phone call with a friend.
Or take some advice from Tubby and Pogo -- have a nap!
Hang in there, everyone.