A heavy grey morning, cold and wet. I am in Chris’s studio, working – well, right now, writing to you. He’s in his house, 20 paces away, at his computer. At noon we’ll go to the village for groceries and out for lunch, come back for another quiet afternoon, maybe a hot tub, then he’ll go to his puppy training class while I cook dinner. Darby and Joan, my parents would have called us – like an old married couple.
Yesterday’s excitement for me was going to the village for the first time, a ten minute drive from Chris’s. We met Patsy for lunch at a small café, where we sat next to two RCMP officers in full uniform with sidearms, having a tranquil burger with a female friend. One of them writes a funny column in the local newspaper about what the RCMP deal with on the island – one item, Patsy told us, was, “A rowboat has disappeared. Perhaps it ran away to join the navy.”
After lunch Patsy and I went to the grocery store, which turned out to be huge and full of everything anyone could need – I wasn’t sure how much would be available here, but it turns out just about everything. I bought my necessities, including, most importantly, peanut butter, cheese, and coffee; she took me to the liquor store, two of the local thrift stores, and the good deli, and on the way back, to the place that sells pies by the side of the road – you leave the money in a jar – and then to the egg man, ditto.
Chris gave us a tour of his studio outbuilding, a lovely space lined in pine where he can work on his dresses – nine fantastic creations that took him all last year to fashion, and now he has written a play around them that he hopes to get produced.
For someone with OCD, the studio is heaven – rows of shelves storing rows of bottles filled with the craft items he needs. And now, this is a warm silent place I can come when he’s working in the house, and vice versa.
He and I sat again in the hot tub, though without champagne this time; then he watched his favourite TV show Escape to the Country, a British program about urban people looking for country properties – wonder why he likes that one? – and cooked dinner. And finally, the pets slept, and so did we.
This morning he called me over to his worktable window, first to see two white-tailed deer in the woods just outside his fence, and then the large pileated woodpecker with the bright red topknot who dines at his feeder. He has set up bird feeders with suet right outside his office window so he can watch the birds all day – juncoes and towhees, thrushes, many sizes of woodpecker.
I feel the city falling away from my shoulders, chased away by the smell of woodsmoke and wet trees, the profound silence, the feeling of being far away from the pressure, speed, and terrifying madness of our current world. And yet everyone and everything is nearby, I FaceTimed with my daughter last night and again this morning, am still dealing with the conference, with students and editing clients, tenants, the house – but from a place of intense stillness in fir- and smoke-scented air.
For which I am very grateful.