ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Finding ways to get through

© Another Day in the Country

It’s the dreary days, these days, when winter grows long and I’m restless in the house, pacing from one room to another, looking for something that inspires and finding only empty hours.

Outside, it is warmer than it looks, damp and gray. The chickens eschew the chicken house, imagine that? I look through two layers of glass, wondering, “Why don’t you choose to be inside where there’s a light bulb burning, food, water, dry bedding to scratch around in?” and they turn their backs to the wind and their heads away from my gaze.

What is this malaise? I’m talking to myself, revving up my usually omnipresent optimistic spirit. Think, now, of all the reasons you have to be thankful: good health, warm home, good friends, a sister who honestly enjoys your company, food in the freezer, the pantry, the cupboards, the fridge and books full of ideas for what you could make to eat, create, give away, just enjoy.

List your blessings like your mother used to recite Bible texts to calm her soul, put herself to sleep, reminding herself of the bigger picture or just love, faith, hope, always hope, or was it always faith? Which one is better or are they synonymous? Right now, who cares, just keep adding to the list of good things, for which I’m grateful.

Another glance at the chickens. They are looking, hopefully, in my direction. Dove stands on one leg as if she’s afraid of getting her feet muddy. Mary paces back and forth in front of the chicken wire.

“We’d be so much happier if you’d open the gate,” they seem to be saying. “We don’t mind the drizzle that is falling nor are we fretting that the rain wasn’t quite enough for the wheat. It’s perfect for scratching and rummaging around in that straw on the flower beds that you put down for mulch last fall. Perfect.”

As I watch them they peer more intensely in my direction. Can they see me? After all, transparency works both ways. Are they hoping for a treat or are they holding out for freedom?

Is this a funk I’m in or is it just Sunday with no plans? My cure used to be “organize something” when I felt at loose ends. I tried that on Thursday. I could finish the job. I’d tackled the walk-in closet off the spare bedroom and found a stack of sweaters that I’ve been looking for since November — obviously, didn’t look very hard.

It was just one of those “I wonder where they are?” kind of things without really digging in and finding them — they’ve got to be somewhere! And there they were and I brought them over to my closet for wearing.

“Oh, I’ve missed you,” I said, pulling one over my head and dissolving into that soft, cozy, warmth.

“Enjoy these while you may,” I tell my tardy self, “It’s almost spring.”

Skeeter got “tutored” (our joke name for her spending a day with Doc Novak). Even though she’s old enough, she is still such a tiny small-boned cat that the surgery really knocked her for a loop. I gave her a heating pad (turned on low) to sleep on. She loves this small luxury. But today, on Bleak Sunday, she begs to be inside the house, not just the porch.

Days like these are holding times. Not really winter, not yet spring. Not really cold, but still not warm. Not really weather beckoning you outside nor fierce enough to keep you swathed within.

“Good thing for holidays,” I mumble to myself. “Let’s see, the next one is Valentine’s.” I’ll decorate, bring out the dishes red, keep the red flowers from Christmastime — they aren’t poinsettias, after all — find the red table cloth and all the papers, shades of pink, and paper doilies, too.

I’ve found a way to spend the day that’s just not humdrum: washing dishes, cleaning, swallowing what’s good for me. I will not stand around, like a chicken in the drizzle, hoping that my feet do not get muddy, looking longingly in some other direction.

I will put a new message on the answering machine and make hearts and flowers, beautiful things filled with love, until the sun comes out on another day in the country.

Meanwhile, Dove goes inside the chicken coop and lays an egg, her daily Valentine for me: It’s blue!

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