The view outside has become tiresome.
I don’t think I’m supposed to say that. I’m not a fundamentalist, but I’ve steeped myself in a tradition of natural history that holds the world as sublime: a wellspring of solace and inspiration and revitalization, source of and target for gratitude.
Such qualities are sorely needed these days, and so I started writing a post on the theme weeks ago. The rough start I made framed a dissonance between the constructed world of news and current events (the “urban” of this site’s title) and the unbuilt environment of ridgelines and woods and grasslands (the “wild” outside my door).
When I couldn’t find a way to make the neat dichotomy work, I set the piece aside, thinking a solution would come to me. I grimaced every time I glanced at the pages, though, inclined to toss them onto the shredder pile. The setup of urban discord countered by wild accord was simplistic to the point of bullflap, but the sense of persistent dissonance was…well, persistent.
I’m repelled by politics, appalled by the fissures in our public discourse, and sick of the pandemic. These things hover in the background of my days, gnawing at peace of mind with dull teeth of indistinct threat. But the fact is that my home ground is not, at the moment, a balm against any of that.
I am sick of this gawdawful winter.
I am fed up with the wind, fed up with the ice, fed up with the pathetic excuses for snowstorms that deliver all of the hassle and cold and treacherous conditions of genuine winter storm events with none of the redeeming moisture. I’m tired of snowfalls that, too small to plow, laminate the driveway between house and barn with a packed veneer of snow that melts on the over-warm days only to freeze into ice on the over-cold ones, then is burnished to a glass-like finish by the wind. I’m tired of schlepping grit and gravel in buckets, throwing it on the glaze in an effort to avoid more ass-busting falls (two, so far this winter).
I’m tired of looking at the patchwork upholstery of dull dead foliage and tattered whitish drifts; although they get covered by a thin slipcover of clean white every other week or so, it’s shredded unceremoniously by the next day’s wind.
I’m annoyed by the drips of snot that bob from my nostrils when I’m outside, incessantly tickling my nose with their fragile surface-tension grip. I’m aggrieved that taking a walk feels like a test of character. I grumble that the distant vistas might be nice if I could see them, but my eyes are constantly watering in the bitter wind.
I bristle at the incessant rush and rustle and roar of wind as it rudely fondles the house. I curse as it penetrates my woolly hat and blasts me in the face as I come out of the barn with an armful of hay.
I’m tired of that hay blowing into my mouth as I carry it and toward Kansas or Wyoming or New Mexico after I put it down, ostensibly for the horses to eat. I’ve had it up to the gills with fishing hay out of the water tank and have grown prickly about having to pick it out of my bra (How? How does it get under my coat collar and over the top of my turtleneck??). I’m worn out from feeling sorry for the horses, as they hunker under whichever shed-roof offers the best protection, out in it day and night, manes and tails whipping.
I’m depressed at the absence of birds, the usual flock of plucky of juncos gleaning seeds from hay and horse poop and weedy roadsides this winter year a mere pair, only two.
I’m sick of the damned wind. Did I mention that? The wind, wind, Wind, WIND, WIND?
These thoughts pass through my mind and I think, No, no; too much and too negative; we’ve all had enough of misery and mouthing off about how hard it all is. So many people actually DO have it hard, and I have nothing to complain about.
I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The power’s on, the well water flows, and is clean. I have jobs to do and my husband’s here, plugging along alongside me, and my other loved ones, although too far away for too long, are alive.
So I ditch dissonance and try to find something else to write about. I walk out into the pasture, maneuvering around ice and the crusty lumps of old snowdrifts, looking for color or pattern or solace or brightness or wonderment. I am struck, as always, by the lichen splashed across the rocks like green and orange paint.
But on beginning to write, my mind veers off course; how to give context for the zingy hues without accounting for the drabness of the drab winter ground?
I try again, closer to home, so close I’m still inside. In the house, rooted in lives truly suspended between urban and wild, immune to the vicissitudes of weather, sheltered from the cursed wind, the houseplants nourish eyes starved for verdure. I admire the fleshy leaves of the succulents and the feisty tendrils on the ivy and the saucy lipstick buds on the Schlumbergera. The Meyer lemon, pruned to a frankly ugly form by gnawing rodents last summer out on the deck, nevertheless sports a cluster of green lemons and is working up a bumper crop of new flower buds.
Write about that, about the jungle indoors.
But first, for context, I write:
The view outside has become tiresome….