Someone asked me today if I shouldn’t consider moving back to Missouri. I shook my head. I don’t yearn for the cold, or the ice, or the daunting prospect of finding someone to come and fix the broken bits of the old house through which the cold fingers of winter creep after sunset. Truth told: I miss my friends, but I wouldn’t enjoy the political climate, the prospect of rebuilding the shambles of my life which had fallen into ruins in the years before I fled, or the brutal winter weather . Now I live in a warmer climate with fewer ghosts and only the occasional, astonishing glaze of morning frost.
Still I mark the season’s change with all those comforting rituals that we build for ourselves. I pull the bag of woolen clothing from beneath the bed. The zipper catches and I ease its teeth around a bit of yarn that caught last springtime and left a tiny gap over the summer. I shake my head and hope that moths have not slipped through the small passage and nestled in among my favorite sweaters and scarves.
The woolen hats spill from the compressed depths of the storage sack. I gently gather them and stand on the little bench that my father made me to arrange them on the hat rack from which I have already removed my summer headgear. The heavy scarves slip into rings which dangle along the side of the front door. A few of the jackets don’t fit me this year. I lay them aside; I’m sure to know someone who will want them. Dresses make their way into the small cupboard. Summer garments fall onto the floor, and eventually, find themselves stowed away in the plastic holder and pushed under the bed, where they will sleep until spring.
In the little sitting room, I unplug the fans and ease them onto the floor. The windows have been open since May but now I close them against the sharp air. We will soon see rain, and strong winds, and what passes for cold here. I will have need of the shawls that I fold into a basket and the long-sleeved blouses which I ease over hangers. I shake out my comforter and draw a woolen afghan over the bed.
This week marks end of the fifth year since my house arrived here; in another month, my own arrival has its anniversary. I stood outside today wondering if I need to have my home re-leveled or the tires filled. The windows could stand a good cleaning. Cobwebs cling to the roofline. I can’t recall when I last replaced the water filter. With the time change, I will check the batteries in the smoke alarm and the gauge on the fire extinguisher.
The geese have already started to arrive, along with the Sandhill cranes, and the flocks of starlings which gather on the long, sagging wires. Winter has come to the Delta. I close the door against the chill when night falls. In the morning, I watch the majestic formations rise from the fields and make their way to the marshes east of here where they will feed throughout the day. Autumn yields to its colder cousin. I cannot say that I do not feel another year older, and even more decrepit. Certainly, the fullness of time presses itself against my eyelids when I lay my weary body down to sleep. But I have survived another year of my tiny life. That has to count for something.
It’s the fifth day of the one-hundred and seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.