The tule fog returns to the Delta. It drifts around the river bend and settles on the fallow fields. Rising early, I spy little wisps of it in the treetops of the meadow behind my house.
Soon the Sandhill cranes, the snow geese, and the trumpet swans will descend on the flooded fields. We will wake to their cries and huddle on the side of the road, taking picture after picture of the graceful arc of their morning flight. In the evening, wide swathes of them will settle on our island; and the smaller birds will cling to the bare branches of the ancient trees.
In a few weeks, I will celebrate the second anniversary of the delivery of my house. I walked around the little lot on which it sits today, thinking of the exhilaration in my heart as I waited that November morning. In the weeks which followed, I had packing to do, and my house to sell, and cases to finish before I could follow along. By the time I arrived here a month later, what passes for winter had taken hold of Northern California.
I feel the nip of winter now, but it has not yet made its presence truly known. The hornets still swarm around the corrugated metal roof in the afternoon warmth. One of them bit me today, a sharp sting like electricity, sudden and brief but fierce. My finger swelled. I grabbed my phone and called a neighbor. He came and did a little triage, assuring me that I didn’t need medical care. Embarrassed, I thanked him, and waved as he continued on his way to work. I went inside and collapsed into my chair, tears falling unchecked down my face.
Today I burned the better part of four hours editing some of my old Musings. I hope to make a book of them. The need to leave something tangible presses heavy on my heart. I haven’t much to show for six decades on Earth. A few satisfied customers. Some distant friends. A handful of memories. Walls laden with pictures, fading now, in broken frames.
Night has fallen. I don’t know what to make of this sensation that time has gotten the best of me. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with sorrow and something so very close to regret. I started this journey to joy on 31 December 2013, three months after my mother-in-law laid down her uncomplaining head and died. That same day, I took my very last prescription narcotic after forty-five years. I forged clear-headed into 2014.
The contours of that new year and each one since stood sharp and cold against the pages of the calendar as they drifted to the ground. Today I clutched those crumpled pages, and the pages of the half-dozen happy years which preceded them. I ought to burn the lot, but there are some lovely moments recorded there. I smooth them out, one by one, and sit amidst the memories, in the silence of my little house. I wonder, for the thousandth time, where it all went wrong and whether any glimmer of hope remains.
It’s the eleventh day of the seventieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.