After writing for a week alone in my old shack,
I guide the car through Ortonville around midnight.
The policeman talks intently in his swivel chair.
The light from above shines on his bald head.
Soon the car picks up speed again beside the quarries.
The moonspot on the steel tracks moves so fast!
Thirty or so Black Angus hold down their earth
Among silvery grasses blown back and forth in the wind.
My family is still away; no one is home.
How sweet it is to come back to an empty house—
The windows dark, no lamps lit, trees still,
The barn serious and mature in the moonlight.
~Robert Bly, “Living a Week Alone” from Like the New Moon, I Will Live My Life.
Being introverted, I would expect to enjoy time alone. But I don’t. A conversation with myself is uninspiring, leading me back into the inner circle of my thoughts when I would much rather explore the unknown of another’s view of the world. Alone, I feel exceptionally unexceptional and extraordinarily ordinary. Quite simply, without others around me, I’m empty.
At night, when I drive up to our farm and see both house and barn glowing with lights and life rather than still and dark, it is a warm blessing to return home. Someone left the lights on for me.
I’ll leave the lights on for you as well.
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The trees are coming into their winter bareness,
the only green is the lichen on their branches.
Against the hemlocks, the rain is falling in dim, straight lines…
This is the time of year when all the houses have come out of the woods, edging closer to the roads as if for company.
~Verlyn Klinkenborg “The Rain It Raineth”
The deciduous trees in our part of the country have all been stripped bare, having come through rain and gusty winds in the last week. It forces typically leaf-hidden homes out of camouflage and I’m once again startled at the actual proximity of our neighbors. It isn’t as obvious in the summer given the tree buffer everyone has carefully planted. Now we’re reminded once again we are not alone and actually never have been.
Even the mountains that surround us from the northwest to the southeast seem closer when the trees are bare and new snow has settled on their steep shoulders.
We think we have autonomy all wrapped up but it takes the storms of autumn to remind us we are unwrapped and vulnerable, stark naked, in desperate need of company when darkness comes early, the snow flies and the lights are flickering.
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