This is my response to the Weekly Writing Challenge Collecting Detail from the Daily Post.
Today, I finally got around to tackling more of my Christmas shopping. I am now off work for the Christmas break, and my kids are all busy doing other things today, so I have the day TO MYSELF. Once upon a time, when the kids were small, I used to only be able to dream about this. I used to fantasize about how I would spend an hour by myself, let alone six or seven. This past summer, my entire household unexpectedly left town on me for two days and nights, and I had too much time to myself–I actually felt lonely. (You can read about that here.) Today, though, knowing that they will all be back for the regular bustle of suppertime and evening activities, I felt myself able to relax. It’s drizzly outside today, and while I drove from our home outside of town, to downtown, to the shopping centre at the edge of town, the shrouding mist was like a calming blanket over everything. Headlights emerged slowly out of the heavy gray air, and traffic seemed to move in slow motion. My mind responded in kind: now I have two whole weeks off, the work-related stress seems to have fallen away, and I can focus on the time ahead with my family.
My last stop before leaving town was at the music store. It goes without saying that this is one of my favourite places. Everyone in the house now plays an instrument, and although we range from proficient to beginner, we’ve actually started to manage to play together like we might be a real family band someday. We have a pianist/keyboardist, two guitarists, a fiddler, a drummer and even a bass player. Five out of six of us are comfortable with singing, too, so maybe this will really happen, provided we can all get along long enough to practice regularly together. You know how it sometimes goes, with family. But I digress. At the music store, I was picking up a few music-related Christmas presents, of course, and a few necessities. My mic cable died an unexplained death earlier this week, and I needed to replace a patch cord. While I was shopping, a couple of seasoned musicians were laughing with the store owner about the “old days”, before anti-smoking laws, when they used to play at a local tavern with a hopping music scene. “At 9 o’clock when you started, you could see the doors to the washrooms across the bar, but by 11 o’clock you couldn’t anymore.” (I can just imagine what their gear would have smelled like, too.) I used to love playing at the local Legion with the band I belonged to for a number of years. That was one of the gigs I missed the most, after leaving. The room was full of mostly older patrons, including many long-married couples who would have had a story or two to tell about getting through the tough times. I loved watching them move around the dance floor, wondering and imagining what those stories might be. I grew to recognize a lot of them, and occasionally still talk to some of them when I see them around town. I don’t really have time for that kind of gigging right now, but it was fun while it lasted.
On the way home, the misty drizzle continued, and I found myself driving more slowly than usual, but not because of road conditions. The roads were surprisingly good. Instead, I found myself marvelling at the trees as they drew themselves out of the haze. Some trees were strong, sturdy and imposing; others were delicate and even lacy. Trees never reveal themselves to us like this in the summertime. Seeing them in the winter, without their protective cover, their structure is simply beautiful. As I drew close to my driveway, there was one particular tree that I knew I would not see emerge from the mist. So many ash trees have died in our area, due to an invasive pest, that some of our landmark trees have simply disappeared from the landscape. Our property is no different.
The veil of haze and mist became the uniting theme as I collected detail today, but it doesn’t end there. I know that in spite of my plans, my goals, and my efforts, there is a fog obscuring the future. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but I don’t really wish for that fog to clear. Whether there are more good times than bad ahead, or more difficulties than triumphs, I don’t know, and I don’t really want to know right now. I’m going to leave it in God’s hands, and do my best to make it through this day, this week, this month. I will trust that somehow, I’ll make it through whatever comes at me.