This is the sixth day of frozen mist in the treetops outside my cabin windows. Snow is still covering the ground, from the Christmas day “blizzard” that came in that afternoon. I left the property once since Christmas day, riding with my neighbor to a friend’s home where I got a hot shower. Otherwise, I have been here, keeping wood stacked on the porch and the wood stove stoked.
The temperature must have gotten above 32 degrees last night because the water line thawed and I was able to refill the gallon jugs with precious water. I would have soon run out of water had the line not thawed. The sun came out briefly day before yesterday, giving forth the rays needed to reinforce the battery bank. I took the opportunity to trudge uphill through the snow and fallen trees to the road, carrying my gasoline container that needed refilling. A half-mile walk to the main pavement, all three dogs trailing along, I got to the top and told the dogs to stay, then proceeded with my walking stick and gas can towards the nearest gas outlet, a little over a mile away. As I walked along, I felt a sense of freedom to be out of the house, even if it was on foot. The neighbor’s horse watched me go by, and the turkeys penned up with the chickens in the far corner of the property made many turkey-gobbling noises. They were excited by the sound of my footsteps, and perhaps frustrated that they were not getting to run about, free of the pen. I walked on, and the cool afternoon breeze picked up, causing me to wonder if I had worn enough layers of clothing. I had on just a cotton turtleneck and a fleece pullover, as well as a cap. I knew I might get hot, walking, so I had not put on more. The breeze grew stronger as I topped the ridge, and I flashed on someone driving by and offering me a lift.
Just a few minutes later, I heard the sound of a vehicle behind me. My other neighbor, Larry, slowed down in his white Ford pick-up, rolled down his window and asked, “Do you need a lift?” Yes, thank you! I put my walking stick and gas can into the bed of the truck. As I opened up the passenger side door, a lovely little girl moved over so that I could have a place to sit. Larry said, “This is my granddaughter, Riley. She is five.” I was so surprised. I did not know his daughter had a child. It seemed as though she had just married! “She’s my buddy, Riley is, and a good one!” Riley looked up at me and I said, “I am so pleased to meet you!” Her blue eyes sparkled and she glanced down shyly, and then looked ahead at the road, a slight smile on her face. I thought to myself, “What a treasure, to have such a sweetie as a grandchild!” I told Larry, “I have no grandchildren, as yet. I don’t know if I ever will have any!”
We reached the gas station, and I put two gallons in the can. Larry filled two five-gallon containers while I went inside to pay for my gas. A fellow paying for his groceries turned and spoke to me, “Have you met the Country Gentleman?” I said, “Who is that?” He said, “That is Larry! He’s known in these parts as the Country Gentleman.” I said, “That sounds like the right name for him! Am so glad he came along and offered me a ride!”
Back on the road, Larry came to our shared drive and I told him I could walk from here but he kept driving, saying he could take me at least part of the way. When we reached the curve in the road that is three hundred yards above my cabin, I told him to let me out here and I would go down through the woods. He agreed and I thanked him and watched as he turned around and went back towards the top. As I made my way down through the woods, I reflected on what a good neighbor Larry has always been to us here, and how I wish I had made more of an effort to know him and his family better. Oh well, part of the lifestyle here is that folks like to “keep to themselves.” However, when someone needs help, folks come out of the woods.
The days have seemed short, since Christmas. I figured out early on that I would be bringing in the New Year on my own, and by the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, I was fine with that. I cooked up a small pot of pinto beans and baked some cornbread. In the early evening, I poured myself a glass of red wine that I had brought back with me from Austin. By eight P.M., I was back online, looking for anything from anybody that might let me feel less alone.
A chat box popped up. It was my young friend, Whitney, saying hello. She was in town visiting her folks and had seen I was on Face Book. We chatted back and forth for a while and then I realized she could call me! I told her to give me a few minutes and then to call me. Within ten minutes, Whitney and I were sharing a news-filled conversation, realizing we had not spoken in the last 12 years, since she and my son had graduated from high school. We talked a long time. Then Whitney said, “It’s here! The New Year! Happy New Year!” It was so gratifying to be with another, even if it was on the phone. We stayed on the phone a little while longer and then said good-bye. She told me the next time she comes home at summer break she will come see me. That will be something to anticipate! She is one of the beautiful souls I know this lifetime, and I am glad we re-met after all these years. My New Year’s Eve was different but good!
The ice on the tree branches is thawing. I hear the drip-drip-drip on my metal roof. The mist is still thick out there, and it is time, again, to stoke the wood stove. Doing this bit of writing is pulling the battery bank down, so it is also time to go start the generator and recharge the battery bank. All is quiet, and in my heart, I know, somehow, that this day is good, and that this coming year will bring me new challenges which I will meet with the best attitude possible. I may have to work harder than before, but I am grateful that I am still here, working with “what I’ve got!” The best is that I know I have love inside of me, and that those people whose lives touch mine are full of love. May it emanate out, waves of energy, touching lives, like the ripples on the surface of the pond after a pebble has been tossed to its center, a gentle force that is beautiful and ongoing.
Happy New Year, world, and May all be well.