It’s solstice and the dark wraps around us as pinpricks of snow flutter lazily to the ground. It’s our first winter at Forest House and the silence of snow and trees, the work of getting wood, feeding the chickens, tending our home, is every bit as comforting as I dreamed it would be. I am healing here; dulling the memory-edges of city life, illness life, pandemic life. I am evolving again, into someone I didn’t expect, but whose familiarity is already loved.
Just now, we are grounded by Covid – stilled for the first time in months (years?). Enforced rest, just as holiday celebrations began. Got one joyous day of baking in with the kids – five types of cookies and all the mess. But late in the night, Neil wakes me moaning with fever and suddenly that thing we spent almost three years avoiding has arrived. The double lines on his test strip confirm it, nothing and nowhere for at least a week.
Everything is still now. An unusual cold front keeps even the dog inside, drowsy in the warmth of the fire. The tools lay quiet and piled in a corner, the Christmas presents unwrapped in the boxes they arrived in. It will be a week before any of it is needed. Even the fridge – stuffed with groceries for the revels of 6 people – waits, tantalizing with possibility, but no urgency to get there. Even our normal distractions are stilled – no tv, no music, no social media or videos. Just the tap of the keyboard, the furnace clicking on and off and the occasional snap of firewood.
You’d think I’d be sad, a holiday ruined by illness, but no.
Boosted as he is, Neil’s fairing alright. And so far so good for me.
The illness is unpleasant but the rest is not.
It’s the first we’ve actually just lived in our home since we bought it this spring, learning the creak of it, noticing where the winter sun enters low through the windows, lighting our faces.
Tonight, solstice night, even more than any other, I feel the dark enshroud us. Our warm bubble of a home feels like a den, a nest. Or maybe like something sacred, a portal to another world, another way of being. Even the UPS man, arriving in the dusk, chains on his truck and hood pulled over his head, smiled and nodded at the glittering snow, the warm glow in the windows, the smoke drifting from the chimney – this moment is what you’ve been working towards, it’s perfect.
And even with plywood floors, missing walls, a sick partner and a missed holiday, it is.