There’s half a cow in our reach-in freezer, down in the basement where I don’t like to go. I’ve never had a basement before, or half a cow for that matter, which actually doesn’t look like all that much, wrapped in neat half pound packages of ground chuck, flank steaks, stew meat, and filet. The 30 bags of apples that Adrian and I sliced and soaked in salt water take up the same amount of space, provisions that should keep us in apple pies for quite a while. Our three apple trees are bare now, the gray squirrels playing in the branches so fat I fear they will fall and splat to the ground. But they never do. The leaves falling from the oak trees are lovely, but they remind me that two friends from high school died this year, at the young age of 52. The world’s rotation is starting to feel nauseatingly fast.
All the richness of my new life here in Maine makes me feel full, but not always comfortably so. You cannot re-attach a falling leaf, but the longing to do so is there nonetheless. When Blueberry lays her silky head in my lap the fact that her life span is, at best, another dozen years make me ineffably sad. I try not to obsess about it, or about the bad news that comes over my iPhone with horrifying regularity–a mass shooting in Vegas, hurricanes tossing boats and lives about–but concentrate instead on the sun and moon rising over the red oil tanker anchored out on the Penobscot Bay. I don’t know what will happen to this bay in winter but I’ve heard that in a very cold year, it freezes over. That would be something to see.
So would I freeze it all–the bay, the sun, and the lives of all the people I love–right here if I could? From my kitchen window, I can see Griffin and Ado, 9 and 12 now, stacking firewood against the coming cold. Griffin gives Adrian a wedgy and then a moderate push; he stumbles but doesn’t fall, then picks up a stick and screams, the anger in his voice lighting my nerves on fire. Grandpa, who has been staying with us for a month, takes in these sibling wars with serenity. “Only about seven or eight more years until you have some peace and quiet around here,” he says. Outside, a wind gust sends a thousand more leaves falling to the golden carpet on the ground.
Oh, how I’m going to miss the chaos.