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Another Day in the Country

Landing at the airport

© Another Day in the Country

Once my children were both in elementary school and I joined the workforce outside of our home, the house became more and more like an airport landing strip than a nesting spot.

It happened so gradually that I didn’t even notice, except sometimes I began to complain.

It was a joke at our house that there were benches and lawn chairs that no one sat on. We were always too busy weeding, mowing, fixing, building, reworking, planting, harvesting. You get the idea!

There never seemed to be enough hours in the day for everything to get done on days off, and then the Monday-Friday workweek started up again, and the kids were back in school while we went off to do jobs that supported our way of life.

Our way of life! Our house was an airport runway, with various planes taking off constantly. 

My husband took off for the office and his rounds of appointments. I took off in the morning to drop the girls off for school, then ran errands, fixed lunch, went to work, picked the girls up from school, and fixed supper. 

Most often the man of the house was home for meals, but there often were evening appointments. Someone always needed to be somewhere other than home. We took it for granted, again, until I complained. 

We tried having “home night” and “family meetings” and “family excursions,” but nothing short of trips elsewhere ever got everyone together in one spot except at night.

Then as the kids got older, that, too, changed.

Holidays were an exception. Both my husband and I were working in a similar school setting to our children, so we had “breaks” when they had “breaks.” During the summer when my girls weren’t in school, I didn’t “work” either. 

On holiday weekends, the planes taking off for meetings and lessons, appointments and obligations pretty much landed. So this became that treasured family time with all its attendant memories. Other kinds of “ breaks” just meant there was a different, more complicated schedule since we weren’t always a two-car family.

My family used to tease me about the cozy nooks and comfy chairs that I’d position around the house.

“So, whoever sits there, Mom?” they would ask.

It wasn’t me.

I still ask myself that question because I still have lots of places to sit on the porch and in the yard.

When the idea of running a bed and breakfast went bye-bye for us, there were quite a few rockers that graced the porches of our guest houses. Most of them moved to my porch. They get used a lot when cousins come to visit or kids from California land at the airport. I take turns sitting in them so they don’t feel neglected in-between times.

This shift we’ve all been experiencing the last few weeks has calmed the traffic in a lot of airport-homes. Maybe it’s been more frustrating and congested on the ground, but I think it’s been good for us to have a change of pace. It gives us a chance to decide what we want “normal” to feel like after this forced restriction is lifted. How do we want to live our lives? What have we learned about ourselves?

Gratitude should be our major emotion at the moment. Gratitude that we’re well! Gratitude for our wide open spaces. Gratitude toward the people who help, from the grocery worker right on over to those health care providers.

Gratitude for the family member who calls to say, “Just checking in,” and gratitude to Art and Bill, the fix-it guys in town.

Gratitude for that extra eight-pack of my favorite toilet paper that I forgot was in the pantry. Gratitude for that check in the mail from the government — how the heck can they do this, but “thank you!”? Gratitude for the sister who lives across the street and has been my quarantine buddy.

Gratitude for Kristina texting, “Do you need anything?” and making all those face masks.

Gratitude for the kids I’ve been teaching art. (I could talk a long time about those kids.) 

One of my third-graders called this week. Luckily I was in the house to answer the phone and not out in the yard.

When I answered, I heard this sweet young voice.

“Pat? I lost my art pencil and I haven’t been able to finish that project that you sent home with me” — breathy pause — “and I’ve tried other pencils but they just don’t feel right.”

Another pause.

“I don’t want my family getting COVID-19 or anything and so I wondered if you could put an art pencil in an envelope and send it to me in the mail?” 

As it turned out, I missed the mail so I called her mother and asked if Kenzie could meet me at the end of the lane — we’d be masked — and I’d give her the pencil, in the envelope, on my way to the drive-in window at Tampa State Bank.

Can you see the little girl, standing by the gravel road, mask covering her face, adult-sized gloves on her hands, holding a tiny kitten to show me in one hand, waving with the other? The most precious sight I’ve ever seen on another day in the country!

Last modified May 20, 2020

 

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