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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Isolation 101

© Another Day in the Country

“Where’s the phone?”

I’m always misplacing it because I’m not one to drag it around in a pocket with me — as I go out to mow the lawn that really doesn’t need it yet or plant flowers that threaten to freeze in this undulating weather pattern called spring. 

My smart phone, which I pretend to disdain, has become a lifeline of companionship when the days are long and a little too quiet.

My sister checks in with me every now and then, “Just checking in,” she’ll say.

I appreciate her reaching out, even from across the street.

The other night, I couldn’t locate my phone, but I ignored my voice of insecurity that said, “You should find it.”

I even went to bed without locating it.

“It’s no big deal,” I said to my misgivings.

The next morning, I looked out at the sunshine and rejoiced that warmth was spreading all over my world. I celebrated by eating a homemade banana muffin, even though it cost me 6 points of my carefully measured out 23 for the day! As I slowly ate breakfast, savoring every bite, I retraced my steps from the day before.

“Where had I left that phone?”

After breakfast I decided to paint my fingernails, “just for kicks,” I said to myself.

At the grocery store the day before I’d found myself buying more flowers than food.

“Food for the soul,” I reasoned.

Now as I painted my fingernails, each nail a different, bright Easter egg color, to match the season, I mentally searched for my billfold which usually housed the phone. 

Painting my fingernails is not something I do all that often. Only once a year, in spring, do I ever do the fanciful Easter egg colors, “just for fun.”

I’m really too impatient to do much with my nails. I don’t like sitting still while they dry, for one thing. For another, I know that the minute I get my hands in the dirt all those perfectly painted nails will be ruined.

However, it was Easter season, so why not add to the celebration?

After the nails were dry, I looked at my weathered old hands and thought, “This really looks ridiculous, like a kindergarten kid,” so I decided to complete the look and added polka dots. Now I had to sit still even longer waiting for those dots to dry. I must admit the end result looked rather festive!

The down time allowed me to retrace my steps.

“Where had I left my billfold?”

I’d not bought a lot of groceries, as I’ve already confessed, mostly flowers. They were now all setting on the back porch, winking at the sun. 

And then it hit me, “My billfold was in one of the reusable bags that I’d actually remembered to take with me to the store, like a good steward of the Earth.”

Found it. Took out my phone. Checked for messages. 

Jess had sent a picture of the full moon hanging like a golden orb over the tree line.

“Check it out,” she’d texted.

Dagfinnr had sent a picture of his chickens in the run they’d repaired after some unidentified varmint had tried to break into the chicken house.

“Mom found a scorpion. The bad news is WHERE she found it,” he’d texted, teasing me to text back and ask where.

But I hadn’t answered because my phone was hiding.

Kristina sent a picture of the kids opening the funny little Easter baskets I’d left under their mailbox by the road. I love getting all these little messages, helping me feel connected, while disconnected from so much.

It was at that moment that I remembered my Aunt Verna, who is long gone. When she was a teenager, at least a hundred years ago, they got a telephone hooked up to a party line out on the farm. It was one of those old wall mounted phones with a particular ring — two long, one short — that meant the call was for you.

Whenever the phone rang out any code Aunt Verna would grab the receiver and listen, even though the call wasn’t meant for them. She was hungry for news, any kind of gossip or excitement.

“She wore out the linoleum under that phone,” my dad said with disdain. “And my Mom let her get away with it.” 

In my dad’s view of his childhood, everyone ‘got away’ with something, other than him. He was the one who was asked to toe the line, be dependable, work hard, never shirk — unlike the girls who were coddled and spoiled — in his viewpoint.

So now, here I sat at the table, with my Easter egg colored, polka dotted, fingernails, that would be wrecked any minute by “real work,” checking out my miracle phone that brought instant messages and pictures from across the street, five miles down the road, or halfway across the nation, with relative ease.

I was hungry for all of it, just like Aunt Verna, leaning against the wall in the kitchen, quietly gleaning news of Ramona, on another day in the country.

Last modified April 29, 2020

 

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