The Strange Interlude
“I know what I want to be when I grow up.” I remarked to Meg at the local nursery after I’d purchased some violas and a shrub. She smiled, “When you grow up. I like that.” I nodded, “Yeah. I’m starting a new career. I know very little.” We said good-bye and then I exited the shop into the parking lot.
Now nearly three years have passed since I’d become a single parent and a widow. It’s a strange interlude. The pandemic shutdown revamped my life a bit. My business of nearly thirty years took a big hit—but I was ready to let it go for a while or forever. Whichever came first. I wasn’t concerned. And if I was, I didn’t know it. Upon dissection of that, it was because I’d survived so much. I’d always, we’d always worked to our max and perhaps beyond our potential my husband and I. That included perhaps uncountable tasks we’d achieved whether we knew it or not.
Many things have changed. However, there were quite a few things that have remained the same. I’ve trained myself better in computers, not something my husband would have ever anticipated of me. On that same vibe I took an advanced Algebraic course out of John Hopkins for fun a year after he’d passed. He knew me as a lover of logarithms—works better for my chemistry mind. And my despise for Algebra. Something he was good at and taught on a high school level.
What has remained the same was our feisty geriatric male guinea pig who is still trying to hump one of our most geriatric bunnies that weigh more than twice his weight. As I write this, he goes to hump that bunny’s backside twice and after the second time of sliding off her—he then realizes it’s not only not doable. But also, she is not his species. Yes, much of nature remains the same.
I now fold into my Strange Interlude as if I’m writing my husband as he reside in some far off land, the living haven’t perhaps haven’t been yet:
So, Honey, I’ve gotten gutter guards put in last year and I got under one side of our deck to extend the flow from the gutters twenty feet away from the house. The grass looks greener. I had our old oak tree stump that stood three feet in height removed two years ago and partially de-stumped a few inches down. Then I de-stumped and de-rocked another two feet down. And our seventy-five-foot swamp maple, I’d questioned for years before your illness I’d questioned the hazard I’d felt the tree may present. Last summer, I finally had that taken out and partially de-stumped a few inches; then I de-stumped another eighteen inches down pulling out about 400 rocks and some boulders.
Over the past two springs I removed our arborvitaes that had been decimated by the deer during and after the pandemic and replaced them with deer resistant box wood shrubs, they are safe and work just fine. I took the two Korean lilacs and four azalea shrubs near the back of the house out. They were growing too close to the foundation and replaced them with deer resistant shrubs. I removed the five forty-plus year-old hemlocks against the side of our deck. I tried to transplant them like you would have tried to do. However, the summer drought of 2022 was too much for them. I just removed them from the transplanted area in the back by the still living fully section of arborvitaes you had put in 1999. Too, we’ve had even more wildlife than ever in our backyard. A coyote, groundhog, a bear and a couple foxes have now trapesed through our yard over the past year. I think you’d marvel of it.
Tony and Cathy down the street have sold their home and will be moving soon. Vinny down the street just had an addition put on his home. Looks classy. I had part of our sidewalk and our apron redone this past autumn. Looks good and our eldest’s car has much less chance of scraping. Yeah, I helped her get a brand-new car. It’s cute and she pays for her own car insurance too. Hey, by the way, she got to ski out west like you’d always wanted to take her skiing. Portions of the street are getting quieter. Mr. Weiss has moved along too. The McGarry’s moved out. Gail and Bryan down and around the corner are having siding redone. They took out their front tree, the drought did a number on it, apparently. And across the street from them remember the house decorated to the nines? Well, Marsha and her husband just sold the house recently and no longer live there as well. I think Amby is still alive. You know the old Marine who I used to see out walking his dog? He’s got to be like age 97 or something now. His son passed I think like 18 months ago, I think.
Oh, and my vegetable and fruit garden—I made a garden in your memory instead. Our wedding colors painted on nice rocks, with echinacea, allium, and lavender plants present, and the raspberry shrubs are still against the garage behind all that. Oh, I got rid of the old refrigerator and my office fish tank. Got to save a little money you know. And something you’d thought would have been a real good idea. I got a mini drying rack in the furnace room for the fleece we use for pet care. I knew you’d like that too.
Well, I’d better get. We still have one child home to serve. So, there’s that.---Jody-Lynn Reicher