Saturday, April 4, 2020, around 8am. There are now over one-million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in more than 200 countries. Media outlets teeter-totter from doom and gloom to hope and compassion. The neighbors are getting restless, the pool has been cleaned twice this week (including once yesterday by the singing pool guy) and Nana and I are keeping cozy, watching judges and westerns and savoring homemade bread and sugar-free apple crumble. Then there’s the nature. The squirrels are venturing closer to my door. And during this morning’s walk, I eschewed my usual podcast or music in favor of the symphony of birdsong, walking nearly the entire length of my street without being passed by one car. Remarkable.
I’ve always thought of myself as a city girl, but there may be something special to quiet country living after all. Nana and I were reminiscing about the birdhouses in my great-grandparents’ (her parents) yard. How the birds would come, make their nests inside and birth new little birdies. My great-grandfather was pretty handy including building multiple birdhouses, their own house, cedar robes and the swing now propped up on book-filled milk cartons in front of my window.
I used to love going out to their house. Mawmaw would always have some sort of dessert, candy, crackers and Shasta ready for the taking. We’d sit on the porch, and the adults would drink coffee. Sometimes I’d have some too with tons of milk and sugar. And we’d snap peas and beans and shuck corn. It’s all coming back to me now. I do love the quiet. But maybe, after everyone realizes how delicious silence is, cities and larger towns could learn to be a little quieter? I loved the location of my apartment in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood for its quiet, almost quaint French feel, but within a block of an exceptional coffee shop, arthouse movie theatre and bustling Broadway.
That’s probably more my kind of country living although instead of an apartment, a cozy bungalow with a garden. And a puppy. And maybe instead of I-5 down the hill, it could be the beach/ocean. I used to walk down the hill at sunset with a small thermos of tea or wine, sit on the stoop and write or watch the sun go down over the Space Needle, sometimes closing my eyes and pretending the whoosh of traffic was really the sound of waves.
And when I lived in the Ballard neighborhood, I’d take the bus up to NW 85th St., walk down the steep wooded path to Golden Gardens and soak in Shilshole Bay, the marina and the Olympic Mountains. It was nice to have that mix of walkable city and nature.
Today, Seattle is far from me, as are the beach, mountains and city life. I have been in a small city in Louisiana for over six years. But this morning, listening to the various bird calls, feeling the breeze on my face and watching the squirrels race around the tree, while sipping tea from Paris from my grandfather’s old fold-out chair in my small apartment complex overlooking the pool, knowing that I get to hug my grandmother once I go back inside, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I guess that’s where all this writing this morning has led me. Embrace the present moment, bake or nuke yourself something tasty, hug your loved ones if you can and be thankful for every place you’ve been, for everything you have and for the birds’ beautiful songs. Bon appétit.