Well, here I am.
I was away from home for two weeks. I attended a meeting in Lansing filled with interesting, knowledgeable and helpful people. I was able to connect and spend time with one daughter, two nieces, one grand niece, one brother and five sisters. Plus assorted and dear in-laws. I went to Nashville with my sisters! I came back from my vacation energized from new sights and sounds and adventures.
And then I ran out of steam.
I’ve been sick. We’re fairly protected, here on Beaver Island, from many of those things that make the rounds in the wintertime. When one manages to get away, it usually results in some sort of contagious nuisance grabbing hold. I came home with a bad head cold that – just when I’d decided a head cold was the worst ailment – moved down into my chest. I truly believe a broken leg would be easier to live with than a bad cold. But then, I’ve never had a broken leg.
My method of dealing with a cold is to mask all symptoms with as many over-the-counter medications I can manage: non-drowsy tablets to get me through the day, and the strongest drowse-inducing liquids for nighttime. So, I’ve been pretty drugged-up.
I came home to still Winter. Normally, the end of February is a good time to get away. Usually, by the first of March, signs of Spring are starting to show even when we’re still in Winter’s grip. The days are longer, the sun is brighter…there is hope. This year, I believe Beaver Island recorded a temperature – or at least a wind chill – of something like 25 below zero on the first of March. And, it wasn’t just a fluke. That was just an average day in the mass of cold days we’ve had this month…finishing off a winter that came early and hit us hard. In fact, today – March 19th, the eve of the first day of Spring – we are getting more snow! I am winter-weary.
I came home broke, and behind in everything. None of my jobs offer “vacation days.” We have a quaint old arrangement that an hour of work results in an hour’s pay. If it doesn’t interfere with business – or the plans of others – it is possible to get time away…but it will not be compensated. This vacation has been on my calendar for months. The fact that this hard winter resulted in less business (so fewer hours of work), higher utility bills and a whole new idea of the cost of snow-plowing would not cause me to cancel this trip. I’d figure it out. I had a few obligations for articles coming up in the first couple weeks of March. I work well under pressure, I assured myself. I’d figure that out, too. So, I’ve been busy…working, writing, turning in hours and paperwork, paying bills and filing taxes (while drugged up on over-the-counter cold medicine).
After two weeks out in the hustle and bustle of the mainland, a full week in the big city of Nashville and seven (twenty-four hour) days with my sisters, it might seem logical that I – the loner in the family – would be happy to get back to my little house on the Fox Lake Road on my little island away from the fray. The opposite is true! I have been so lonesome for my family, I wake up every day missing them! I wander this sad house alone every evening. I almost never suffer from loneliness, but now it has me in its grip.
I woke up this morning with the remnants of a dream still on my mind. It was filled with family, living and dead (though all very lively in my dream!), and busy with buying and selling houses and moving furniture. It was noisy with planning, friendly discussion and debate. As I awoke, I struggled to keep my Dad’s voice in my head. His words: “It’s good, then, you’ll be down here when it’s time to put in the garden.” Though tears were drying on my cheeks as I got out of bed, it was comforting to note that Dad – from his high perch – knows that Spring is coming.
And I’m here…waiting for it.