Season’s greetings from the Nuthatch, where we like BIG wreaths, and we’re looking forward to the end of 2020.
A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS. It’s blowing like stink outside my window, with tree branches waving like a football referee after a particularly egregious foul. Sitting alone in the December dimness of my cozy writing hut on our rocky knoll, three days before the solstice, I’m contemplating 2020.
Worst year ever, many say. Of course, they didn’t live through the Great Depression. Or any world wars. Nevertheless, the worst many of us have experienced.
Yet, yesterday a fellow islander and I shared feelings of optimism. There’s more than one viable vaccine against the virus. There’s a new government on its way, with able minds and honest aspirations. We won’t pause right now to count the daunting hurdles before it. Let’s grasp at hope.
On our little island we count ourselves lucky for the protection isolation affords. But like others everywhere, we feel the strain of separation. Today my father would have turned 99. He died six years ago. I’m beginning to look back on living friends the way I look back on him. It’s not good.
A friend in Portland, with whose family we’ve shared many a beach getaway, emailed us that her workplace recently had a Zoom meeting in which they shared a little stress-relieving exercise, answering the question, “What would you do first if COVID magically disappeared tomorrow?” It sounded like a fun hypothetical, to take people out of their boxes (literally). But some ended up in tears. We’re all emotionally tender, we’re all missing the life we used to know. Many have lost friends and loved ones. To look beyond that to relief and relaxation touched a nerve.
It’s a topsy turvy world. This week New Yorkers who would normally curse an early snowstorm for bringing the city to a halt and making them late to work instead treasured the change outside their window. Most weren’t going anywhere anyway. Anything to make life more interesting again. But just to emphasize our inverted reality, school kids stuck on their computers at home didn’t get the pleasure of schools shutting. For them, it wasn’t a snow day, a reporter noted. It was just Thursday.
A friend asked recently: As a travel writer, how have I coped with this year of no travel? Certainly, I miss it. I love how seeing new places and meeting new people refreshes my mind. I love to write about that and maybe inspire others to go. I get itchy. Staying home is like knowing that it’s time to update my computer but reboots aren’t allowed.
Admittedly, missing travel is kind of a first-world problem. With the vaccines, I’ve started to dream about next fall. More than anything, though, I miss visits with friends and family. Those beach getaways. Game nights and cozy dinners.
After weighing the “what to do first” question, our Portland friend concluded that it wasn’t “fly to Paris.” Rather, she said she would invite friends to brunch. In fact, she extended the invitation.
We said we’d take her up on that. At the beach.