Reprieve

 

reprieve2 - 1

11.12.17

“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content.
–  Lin Yutang

If I didn’t know better, I would think that this stay of execution is because I’ve complained so much.  The roof drips drips drips, the ice is off the stone steps, even from our road.  For the time-being, we are back to the Autumn I love so much.  The smell outside is quintessential Fall, sweet decay mixed with a cold metallic scent.  John Miller talks about the smell of the earth coming alive, under the snows, in early Spring.  This is a smell of coming into death.

I stood under the dripping roof of the garage yesterday, and braced a tall ladder which was balanced on sheets of bark placed over the snow.   For weeks now, the toilet in the guest cabin over the garage has not been flushing.   What began as an inconvenience, took on the drama of tragedy in our household, as the toilet was replaced, the septic tank cleaned, and still no flushing toilet.  At last, it had to be a clogged vent on the roof.  So, with this new plan, I held the ladder while Don shoveled snow down to clear his path to the vent.  A pair of deer came close to watch and stayed the whole time.  A Bald Eagle circled overhead.  Gary, the cat, sat on the fence post to watch.  Everybody seemed interested in solving this problem.  Don went up and down with various tools and home-made instruments to remove the blockage.  And, then, out came the dead squirrel and gunk he was stashing for the long Winter ahead.  The joy of a problem solved!

When I go to bed at night, I like to think about something that was beautiful in the day.  It was a big relief to have a flushing toilet again, but what soothed me to sleep was just reflecting on the time I had spent at the ladder, waiting for Don as he went back and forth to the house.  It was so still and quiet in the fog.  The critters kept me company, and I could see yellow leaves now revealed on the trees in the woods, and the wool scarf at my neck soaked up the cold melting snow.  I was aware of bearing witness to the final days of yet another year, a reprieve, before it all goes to sleep in the dark cold, right on schedule.

 

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