Waiting

I am sitting in my living room, stoking a lovely fire as I write this. I am not supposed to be.

I am supposed to be driving, certainly across Texas by now, a dog and a cat in the cab of my truck and a newly-purchased used chair and footstool in the back.

Instead, my truck is at the mechanic’s having something urgent and dire repaired that was discovered by another mechanic, who was only supposed to be giving me a last-minute oil change and checking the air in my tires. Instead, I got Big Trouble, the kind of Big Trouble that means postponing my trip across the plains, missing orientation, and sitting with no vehicle in my farmhouse enjoying a nice fire.

As I nibble away on my snacks intended for the road, I am watching white pines that I planted many years ago sway in the breeze. It is sunny now, but storms are coming, they say. (“They” meaning my friend Judy, who tells me that I had better get across Texas while the getting is good).

But right now, there is nothing more I can do. I pack my bags. (And by “bags” I mean bags, having determined that garbage bags are far more practical than either boxes or luggage in the back of my truck. And who would want to steal them?) I remove a portion of the cobwebs that have accumulated in my absence. I stack more firewood for when I return. (It may still be chilly in May.) I walk Milo one more time along the path in the woods that he has walked since he was a small puppy.

The path is snowy now and snowshoers have made occasional improvisations in the path, taking it to the left of a small hill or tree where, in the summer, it would go to the right. Milo is not fooled. He does not bother to watch either the blazed tree markers or the snowshoe tracks, but follows the trail by memory, the way it is supposed to go, the correct direction around every boulder, every fallen tree. He remembers it all.

At home, my eyes fall on the familiar as well and just as instinctively: the portrait of my grandmother on the landing, (hello grandma), the heavy-lidded eyes of the women watching me in the artwork over my desk, the small, temperamental gas controls on my old stove as I heat water in the teapot, the faucet in the bathtub that always lets out one last splash of very hot water after the tap is closed if I am not careful. I remember it all.

And while I know the white pine outside is really not much taller since I left in August, it seems taller to me today, swaying in the wind, because I can remember planting it, a fluffy little bush in a basket. It seems as if that must have been only a month or two ago, but the tree stands 20 feet tall today.

While I wait for my truck to be repaired, this time before the trek across the plains is like a breath. It is like the time when my coat was already on and my friend called to say she would be late.

I left my coat on and made a cup of tea. I took out a camping chair that had been put away since last August and I sat on the porch. I drank my tea and looked at the trees and I wondered how they ever became so tall.

Till next time,

—Carrie

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