Turning Over

As promised at the New Year, there’s been a high pressure system for a while now. Clear skies show off a scattering of stars, and an unobstructed moon. And this means cold.

There’s a thin layer of ice on the asphalt when I have to cross the street. Otherwise I stay on the grass and relish each step. I struggle every morning to pinpoint the synesthesia. It’s like eating comfort food: the whole-body sensation of biting through. Sinking my teeth in. There is something nourishing about it.

About the time we get to the duck pond – and the inexplicable grill nowhere near a park bench or seating pit – the caffeine kicks in and the blood vessels in my fingers constrict, and the pain sets in. The morning cold bites back, I suppose.

Our walk back to the house is always quicker than the walk away. But this morning I did notice a rat in the dark. Near the skateboard park, scrambling into a drain, a rat the size of a computer mouse. Or a deck of cards. Unexpected. So much so Leonard didn’t even notice.

He’s too busy shoving his nose under the icy tufts of loose grass – turning them over to expose the wet soil. The hares living here must have just passed by. He’s excited.

I wonder why I haven’t seen a hare in months. What their routines are now that the ground is nearly frozen. I wonder if the ducks are bored in the dark. Can ducks see in the dark? They quack. This morning I think about the onomatopoeia in that: quaa-aack. Something set them off, causing a small ruckus of wings hitting the water.

True to my new year’s resolution, I’m allowing boredom to kick in on these morning walks.

I came home to google what rats do all winter. How they pass the time. I wonder if their little fingers ache. If they go hungry.

This wasn’t what I wanted to come from my newfound boredom. Rats make strange muses. And google is an all-too convenient diversion.

I write a poem. Not about rats.

We were supposed to be “back at it” yesterday. But the virus is spreading and we’ve gone back to a rotating schedule for digital and classroom teaching. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized the disruption of routine really isn’t much of a disruption. My days stay nearly the same. Even though they say to avoid mass transportation, I have no choice to but put on a mask and catch the train 5 days a week. The disruption is mostly emotional. Which means, the disruption is something I can control.

There are more articles on the news sites about how difficult this is on young people. This morning I have been wondering when we stopped talking about how resilient young people are and began encouraging their feelings of helplessness.

“Unprecedented times”. Every day is unprecedented. Every day is a personal trial for someone. We can deal with it all. And if it hurts – when it hurts – our anticipatory hand-wringing doesn’t make things easier. Perspective does.

Maybe the wisest Norwegian proverb is to not take on sorrows in advance.

The kids are going to be all right. On the whole, we’re all going to be all right.

2 Replies to “Turning Over”

  1. I love reading these posts, Ren.
    I read them in my email, with my coffee.
    It is like I am with you and you always draw my eye/thoughts to such interesting things.

    Thank you.

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