This morning marks one week since I returned from a sunny and warm land to this country of cold, cold cold.
But the sun was shining here, reflecting all the white snow and bouncing it all around my kitchen, so I decided to take advantage and get out there. First problem: couldn't open the back door - the snow has hardened into a pile of ice-encrusted cementy-type stuff - do the inuit have a word for that kind?
Out the front door with me and to the back gate, frozen into place by the same piles - even higher ones that had slid off the porch roof. But i'm pretty skinny, so i forced my way through a very small opening and got busy with the pointy shovel- the one for gardening or digging post-holes, but the one with a sharp tip to cut the ice.
as i dug i thought of my cousin- a lovely man who died this week, very suddenly, doing just this activity. it's a strange world, with the good people dying and so many evil rats living long and rich lives. dig, zoe, dig, i said. enjoy the sun, and even the cold, which turned warm enough, with all that effort, to force my jacket off.
when i finished, i was craving more sun still, so decided to go for a walk, but got only a few yards down the road to the park at the end of our little dead-end street. and there, the iron bench, surrounded by even more stretches of lovely white - not the black mounds at the sides of the roads - it beckoned to me, and i lay me down. yes, i did. just like a summer's day in the hammock. i was warm and cushioned well by all the layers of clothes - snow pants, down-filled vest and jacket, two pairs of mitts, and the crowning glory: my father's special hat for shoveling the driveway. i put it on and in my head i hear, "Joe Chilco here!" - just the way he used to answer the phone. and then when i put on my glasses, the picture is complete. as i get older, i look more and more like both my parents.
I lay in the sun and thought more about all the cousins, a lot of whom I saw yesterday, and all the cute little faces, now also aging along, and i couldn't get myself to get up and get going anywhere. just seemed like lying there and going back in time, and thinking about the shortness of life was more important. also, the sun was lovely, the air was clean - far enough away from the fumes and exhaust of the roadways; no snotty-nosed children like the ones i used to teach, or desperate subways riders hacking their germs all over me; no radio or tv with their crap-yap of commercials or stupid reality shows. Hey, man - this is reality!! Quiet peace and gentle warmth. And then a propeller plane went overhead, and even though it was friday morning, not sunday afternoon, when that sound is particularly nostalgia-producing for me, it just completed the scene.
Of course, I did get up eventually, but not before trying to burn the experience into my brain, for further recall. Life is short, one piece of the mosaic of our family fabric is now gone, even as new pieces get added. And on it goes.
the picture of two people in an embrace - life and death together - was taken on an archeological dig when they were found. Maybe all the love feelings and thoughts get fossilized somewhere, and live on the same way.