Coffee now and an open window in front of me, I hear the morning birds, see the laundry still on the line, the tiny gardens I try to save from weeds. When I got married in northern California nearly eight years ago, we stayed in a little cabin off the highway, too close to the road to be called secluded, though the redwood trees presided over us and the traffic was scant. In the mornings I woke before my husband, made a pot of coffee, and sat in a white kitchen at a white table, writing in a journal. This is what I’ve wanted most of all, a space in which to breathe.
For a month now I’ve been spending what time I can digging in dirt and moving perennial plants from one part of the yard to another. I’ve sorted and bagged hostas three feet wide in diameter. I’ve passed them out to neighbors, bartered them for mulch. Still there is little to show for the work I’ve done. Every project is met with another before the final dig.
What has gratefully coalesced in the duty-bound days is a happy peace with my daughters. There has been less fighting for attention, and more silly play. We live well in good weather. For an hour every afternoon we take quiet time to ourselves. I open the basement garage door, so old and musty it feels abandoned, and heave a rusted Underwood no. 5 typewriter into the sun. There I scrub the sides, scrap the decay, and wash a hundred years from its yielding back, reveling in the meticulous detail of old machinery.