Sunday last: I had been laying in bed staring at the ceiling for several minutes when I heard the THUMP-THUMP-THUMP of the older girl’s footsteps in the hall, signaling seven o’clock. I should have been out the door thirty minutes earlier, but decided that I could give myself a day off from the morning walk. All spring and summer I walked religiously each morning, but when the temperatures dip into the 30s overnight, these days off become more frequent. Instead, I read the news on the tiny screen of my phone, imagining I had the pages of the New York Times strewn across the bed like a jigsaw. Thirty minutes later, I got up.
The house was a mess after the long weekend with family, but we all ignored it for a while. I thought about putting a fire in the fireplace, but we decided we were going to the farmer’s market and it was doing to be in the fifties—not fireplace weather. I wandered into my office, logged onto my computer, and picked out the retro posts for the upcoming week, getting them scheduled first thing so that I didn’t have to worry about that task for another seven days.
I read more of One Man’s Meat by E. B. White, one of several go-to books I keep on retainer for those times when anything else I read doesn’t stick. Andy White hasn’t failed me yet. Meanwhile, the boy began building his elaborate railroad up and into the Christmas tree, a feat of architectural and engineering ingenuity that would have impressed Cornelius Vanderbilt. There was only one problem: construction began without certain zoning permits, so that the track invaded the narrow space between the tree and the couch through which foot traffic normally passes. This has since gone to the courts and a ruling has yet to come down. Knowing the power of the railroads, the court will see things in the boy’s favor.
As we were about to head out to the farmer’s market, some friends told us they were going to stop by. We already had our coats on, but this led to ten minutes of furious cleaning by all five of us. I imagine we looked like the fellows who groom a baseball infield after the third and sixth innings of a ballgame, racing around as we did. The house went from looking like something we’d given up on, to a space that was well-lived in.
In the car, the low-pressure light came on, the third time in two months. There is a slow leak in the right-rear tire. Over the space of 15-20 days, the pressure drops from 42 PSI to 26.5 PSI. I made a mental note to have the service people look at that tire when I bring the car in for service on Friday.
The farmer’s market was not nearly as crowded as it usually is on Sunday mornings. At the first booth we stopped at, Kelly bought a jar of apple butter because she had recently run out. I think the last jar lasted close to a year, but I might be exaggerating that. This new jar, which set us back $7.16, is about three times the size of the old one and should last us into the next administration. For some reason, the onions smelled particularly good today, and the fresh carrots looked particularly vibrant. Kelly had promised the kids donuts and bought a bag of a dozen bite-sized, still warm, for $6. We headed to the playground where the kids fueled their play with the sugar from those donuts. Then we had to race back home because our friends were on their way.
Back at the house, I put air in the right-rear tire of the car. I assume that will last until Friday. A year ago I bought a small air pump that plugs into a port in the car. It is so much more convenient for putting air in tires that finding a local gas station whose air pump isn’t blocked by cars awaiting repair. It also means I don’t have to go hunting for quarters. The thing has paid for itself in time-saved alone, many times over.
Our friends stopped by briefly, picked up something they left here yesterday, admired the Christmas tree that had gone up overnight, and collected some presents we had for them, uncertain if we would see them again before the holidays. When they left, I went back to the saltwater farm in Brooklin, Maine, with a brief but amusing detour to Flushing, New York, where the World’s Fair of 1939 was taking place.
Lunch was the last of the turkey hash that I made on Black Friday. We spent our Black Friday avoiding shops. We took my sister and her family to Mount Vernon, and then, in the afternoon, I made turkey hash, which I make every year after Thanksgiving. I like the hash more than the Thanksgiving dinner. I’m pretty much the only one in the family that eats it, but I don’t mind because it means more for me. It lasted me two days this year, and a swallowed the last bite feeling a bit of melancholy: it will be another year before I make some more.
After lunch I went down for my nap. The nap used to be something I did because the younger girl needed a nap. She’s outgrown them, and now I’ve grown used to them. I read one more essays and then put on the playlist we (I) listen to for our nap and was sleeping before the first track had finished.
The city leaf collection comes round tomorrow and so we went out front and swept the remaining leaves into the gutter for the big truck to come vacuum up. We don’t bother with the leaves in the backyard. We allow nature to take its course back there and if past years are any measure, the decaying leaves seems to do wonders for the spring grass. The temperature was mild in the afternoon. I started with a sweatshirt and was quickly working in t-shirt and jeans, the sweat of my labors keeping me warm. I seemed to act as a reminder for the neighbors, for as soon as we finished, I saw several of them in their yards, pulling leaves from the lawn and into their gutter frontages.
In the evening, the boy was out with friends. With all of the food we’d consumed over the long weekend we decided on what we call a “whatever” night for dinner. We each pick whatever leftovers we want from the fridge and that’s what we eat. I had the rest of the mashed potatoes and gravy. Just before 6 o’clock, Kelly reminded me that there was a house in the neighborhood, famous for its Christmas lights, that was lighting up at six. Four of us braved the cold to walk over and watch the ceremony. Significantly fewer people than last year stood around with coffee and hot cocoa steaming in their gloved hands while we waited for the lights. Last year there were masks and a countdown. This year there was neither.
By 8 o’clock, after a hot shower, I was beat. I climbed into bed with my book, and the younger girl curled up next to me to watch a movie–Raya and the Last Dragon. I don’t think either of us made it through the opening credits.
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