A cup of English Breakfast sits by the laptop. Coffee has Jenny Rosen to thank for its safety; the infuser which she gave me for Christmas brews luscious tea, dark and smokey. I sit in the wooden thrift store chair, at the crude, charming workshop sewing table, also a second-hand find. In fact the contours of wood surround me, here in my cabin retreat, a-top my urban bungalow.
I close my eyes and the tea's fragrance carries me beyond this time, before it, when my face in the mirror bore no lines and the wind howled across my Arkansas acreage.
My home spanned a third of the land. I made my bedroom in a half-built extension which had no heat or closet but gave me 300 square feet of the house's total footprint. Its ceiling rose far above me. I slept beautifully, with the windows cranked open and the night sound soothing me, far into the winter.
When the mountain snows drove me to an interior room, I huddled near the Earth stove in a rocker. I carried my son inside of me that winter, the winter of the creosote fire. Despite the loneliness, maybe because of struggles that I faced, contentment blanketed me. I moved through the interior house with disregard for the wind buffeting the walls. I had plenty of wood, a full rick, neatly cross-stacked by the tight lipped country man who had delivered it and had stashed my cash in the front pocket of his coveralls. Anything else needs doing, call me, he muttered. He swung into the cab of his battered pick-up and pulled out onto old 71 while I watched.
That had been in October. Now in January, pregnant, alone, the damage to the stove from the small careless fire repaired but still remembered, I carried wood in a canvas sling from the mudroom to the living room. Double-split for my small hands, the wood fit easily into the hopper. Warmth rose. I dusted my palms together and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.
Broad sliding doors led to the back yard. I gazed through the glass into the surrounding night. I could not see to the bottom of my property. I knew the river at its western edge would not yet be swollen. Floods would come in March, but now its flat, flagstone bed would still be passable, sturdy, strong, a walkway for the deer. I could see them picking their way through my yard. One lifted its head and seemed to meet my gaze. Neither of us questioned the other's stance. After a few minutes the little herd moved beyond my sightline.
I shivered a little, wondering if I should use the electric baseboard heater spanning the kitchen wall. Instead I took my tea and toast back into the living room and settled in the rocking chair beside the stove.
The cat which had kept me company all through the previous winter in Fayetteville did not survive the summer in the country. She had brought baby rabbits to my feet through spring, proud and preening, but a car on the highway had nicked her and she did not live. My friend Carl helped me bury her and then I had no other life in the home other than my own and, later, the one which grew inside me, though the unchecked mice skittered through the walls.
I did not mind. I missed the cat but I had no need of any human voice. The one which might have sweetened the air with its lilting notes chose to stay away and so, I contented myself with silence..
I knew that I should sleep, this winter night. I had to travel on Monday and had only Sunday left of the weekend. The day would dawn cold and dreary, struggling to push aside the heavy clouds. I would drag laundry into the house's addition where the washer stood on concrete next to the bathroom. I would drive into town to fetch the makings of dinner. In the evening, I would pack a small suitcase and organize the documents for the hearing to which I would fly in the firm's small plane.
But still I tarried in the rocker, drinking strong tea from my mother's pink Haviland tea cup, nibbling whole wheat toast thick with butter. I rested one hand on my belly. I had no clear prescience of my life as a single mother. I did not know where the rocky road of my law firm's financial challenges would eventually take me. Nor did I see, in January of 1991, pregnant and alone in my mountain house in Winslow, all that the next twenty-five years would hold. I sat. I rocked. I dreamed. Eventually, I slept.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
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The Missouri Mugwump™
- M. Corinne Corley
- I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.
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