As a writer, I’ve always looked for underlying themes, for insights and significance. But I have a concussion, and that means life has been simplified for me several times.
At first I resisted what felt like a retreat from a less fulsome way to live. Then I got a reprieve in early March: I was blessed with ideas that captivated me, and not only that, they fitted together into stories I wanted to write.
Then I fell again and hit my skull. I reeled. Ideas vanished. And at the same time, my daughter and her family escaped from Brooklyn to stay with us here in Maine in hopes New York would be safe in a couple of weeks to return.
Life was simplified again, but in a new way. I became the in-house teacher for my 9-year-old grandson while his mom and dad teleconferenced their jobs.
Being in charge of a bright, wiggly child wasn’t exactly writing a book, but it required a talent for fiction (pretending I was smarter than he) and creativity (finding ways to make the schoolwork enticing) and energy (Omg, I got so exhausted and frustrated with the craziness of a non-user-friendly educational system!).
Still, he and I persevered, and we learned a lot without any concept of themes, insights, or deep significance. P.S., we had a lot of fun, too.
Soon after school ended, and the boy immersed himself in other activities, I began having clear memories of what it was like to write a novel.
I read through my research boxes, I made notes on my yellow pads, and I went to sleep lobbying for characters, scenes, whole paragraphs of exciting narration to awaken me. It’s a delicious feeling to call upon one’s dreams, satisfying an old and welcome thirst for storytelling.
Now it’s five months since all hell broke loose with the pandemic.
My daughter’s family will leave soon to move back home. So my son and his family took Covid-19 tests, passed, and drove their packed car nine hours straight from self-isolation in Washington D.C. to vacation with all of us. Wow.
They needed this trip, and we needed to see them. We are all together, three families, all sharing our home and yard and forest. The breezes are sweeter, the sky bluer, the coffee better by far. We go to goat yoga, to isolated lakes, to secret beaches.
Books are stacked on bedroom floors. We argue and debate and have long discussions. We take turns cooking. We eat out on the porch. We make s’mores at the fire pit. The robin who owns our backyard sings to us all through the dinner hour. What could be better?
We’re having a summer in Maine. It’s different, but the same as earlier summers, too.
Missing other members of our family makes me thrill even more to the busyness, the almost-normalcy of those who are visiting. I’ve posted some of my photos on this page. Right now it seems incomprehensible that we’re in the grips of a pandemic that has changed us and our worlds forever.
It’s summer. In Maine. But it’s not. It’s Covid-19 summer, and a shiver of worry underlies everything.
Still, I wouldn’t give up this summer for anything. I watch, listen, and absorb. I’m filled with joy that they are alive and healthy, and that John and I are here to witness them.
Pandemic be damned — I’ve learned a new depth of gratitude.
What about you, dear Rogue Reader? We’d love to hear what your summer has been like. Please leave a comment and tell!