Today I have watched the branches outside my window first get shaggy with snow and then become leafy chandeliers sparkling all over with snowmelt and raindrops. The strip of sky I can see above the building next door has stayed a determined gray, heeding not at all the warm-up from snow to rain. As for the wind, it can’t make up its mind if to dance or stay still, changing its mind moment to moment.
On my side of the window, the warm, dry side, I have spent a good deal of the day with books: another section of Tom Lux’s New & Selected Poems ((…That’s why I’m always off/somewhere in my mind with something/stupid (like a monk) or spiritual/(like a teenage girl)…)), another chapter of Sarton’s Plant Dreaming Deep, which I don’t like as much as the journals because it’s beautiful but somehow also too mannered, and The Simple Things, a British magazine that insists—and rightly so—that “most of us already have everything we need for a meaningful life. Sometimes we need a compass bearing to help us track it down.” I have also dipped in and out of my blog roll, treating my eye to beautiful image after beautiful image though none have propelled me from the couch to finish the art wall, not that that particular task was included in the instructions for recovering from major surgery.
This morning a friend from work braved the snow to bring me chicken cooked on a bed of butternut squash, green beans, and brocoli with couscous, which will be more than enough lunch to get me through till the weekend. And I used another friend’s generous gift certificate to order Virginia Woolf’s Letter to a Young Poet (to add to my stash of work by Mrs. Woolf) and Josephine Ryan’s Essentially French to add to my towering pile of shelter tomes. And I ordered a peony soap from Pre de Provence, my favorite soap as it smells so fresh, so green. There is a candle I want to order as well but I’m not sure I’m allowed to splurge on it—it’s small-batch, handmade—when it costs $40 and times are uncertain. But then again, as Colette noted (and I badly paraphrase), “It was easy to do without the simple things; it was the luxuries I couldn’t do without.”
I also have a gift certificate from iTunes and I’m considering ordering a Joni Mitchell boxed set. I play Blue on vinyl rather frequently these days, though there were years and years I found her voice so irritating. That suddenly changed when I turned 40, and there glimmering among the sharp peaks of her voice, I sensed some universal comfort, or no, not universal, but that particular comfort a woman has had when she’s survived her first few decades, perhaps not completely intact, but enough so to not only soldier on herself but encourage the rest of us to soldier on as well.
I have washed the dishes, put away the laundry another friend did, though I was reminded of my sore belly when I foolishly started to lift the full laundry bag out of the grocery cart. I ended by putting away what I could piece by piece though the sheets and pillowcases and towels are waiting for my next set of visitors who I can ask to stretch up to the shelf where those particular necessities live. I broke the rules enough yesterday when I asked M to help me flip the mattress in obedience to my mother’s parting words. (Don’t worry, M did most of the heavy part.)
I have, of course, watched two episodes of Rosemary & Thyme, one with breakfast, one with lunch. I love how ordinary they are: tiny Rosemary with her everpresent fanny pack and gardening clogs, and sturdy Laura with her pants bottoms always tucked into her socks while she somehow gets stuck with the heavy work. I love that on British TV you can have heroines who are not at all glamorous, who actually look like people look when you see them in the supermarket or at the farmers market. I would happily stand them both to a bottle of wine, add them to the circle of crones I am building around me.
I am treasuring these last days of the simple things (well, other than weekends and holidays): watching the ribbon of sky across from me ring its changes, tea with friends who come to feed my spirit as well as my tummy, hours lost in the worlds of other people who demand nothing but that I see through their eyes, and the soft purr of the big blue blanket wrapped around me as I take it all in from my perch on the blue-and-white couch.