Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stay(ing) Home

We finally finished our last bit of important business yesterday.

Not "last" as in forever, we hope. But it was the last thing we needed to do, to be responsible citizens, before hunkering down to wait until it's time to develop a new long-term "normal."

Meanwhile, our days are following an interim "normal." I continue my usual morning: a brief reading, a short log of the natural world around me (mostly, lately: "it's snowing AGAIN" or "the snow is visibly melting!" but sometimes "ravens are nest-building" or "gulls!!"), an effort to be nice to someone(s) on social media, a morning "art project" card (discussed here), and a brief written check-in.

And then there are tasks: working on taxes, paying bills, writing here, etc. And select, limited times to check the news.

Beyond that, though, it's been tough to focus on larger, long-term projects. I haven't edited my husband's spec-fic novel, let alone my own. I can't even revise short pieces.

Worst of all, I've found reading difficult. Even with the plethora of interesting new-to-me books in this house, it's been tough to settle down with one. My normal, beloved go-to re-read authors (let's be real, there's one primary one, Jane Austen) weren't even absorbing enough to distract me.

Yes. It had come to that.

So I punted. I went to my childhood bedroom's bookshelf and pulled out a much-beloved boxed set.


Yep. The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, all by Mary Stewart. Her Merlin trilogy from the early 1970s.

I think this was the first boxed set I owned. I'm not sure how many times, or how often, I've read it. I can't remember the last time I did--I didn't live in this country, though, which means at least 15 years. I always enjoyed it, enough to have, decades ago, declared a personal moratorium on reading anything Arthur/Camelot related because I always preferred this trilogy.

In recent years, I've been slowly trying to clear the house of things we no longer use. More than once I've stood in front of the bookshelf holding this and tons of other books from my childhood and said, "Am I really going to read any of these again?"

Every time, I've turned aside to deal with something else.

So now seemed as good a time as any to revisit this set. Even if it means, once I'm done, that it stays in the house. (And not just because of self-isolation.) Which is going to be the outcome of this reading spree--because this experience is exactly what I need now.

Yes, the story's engaging, the writing's good, etc. Reading this is also an act of hope--a personal reminder of the value of art and storytelling. Our work can outlive us and be good company for people in circumstances we can't even imagine.

And some day, I'll be ready to begin my own work again. Not yet--not today. But soon. And until then, I'll visit with  old friends.