Just a little disappointed this morning. I thought I heard an owl, but it was most likely a mourning dove. Silly expectations. It’s absurd that I would consider the owl’s call romantically haunting and the mourning dove’s annoying. I’m carrying all kinds of biases, and an unearned admiration for the rare.

There was a truck parked on the walking path in the park this morning. That was rare. And annoying. But I am loving these clear sky morning walks. I’m trying to remember what the physical therapist has said about keeping my spine in the center of my body and let my shoulders fall into place. I’m trying to trust that my bones know their places. To give up the illusion of control.

Like the undulations of worms and the pulsing of stars
My body is a suspension bridge
spanning manifestation and potential
Foundations move
in slow arcs reaching
backward for the new
Always singing through the tension

The moon begins a new phase tonight. What staggered, tripping beginnings this year. Stumbling into – or out of – I suppose. Kicking off the mud and the snow and wiping my boots on the rug. Finally a good night’s sleep! How that can feel like shaking snow off a coat and hanging it on the rack – ready to roll up my sleeves.

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.

Heading toward a quarter moon. The light is slipping away. I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed the moon as often as I have these past weeks. I suppose in part because we run under the cover of trees so often on the dark mornings. And I suppose because conversation is distracting.

Leaving my phone in the house while I walk Leonard now first thing each day, the quiet can be intense. Especially these days with the clear skies.

Shaking up the routine is a good thing. Leonard sniffs more intensely along the edges of the bushes. I think the hedgehogs are likely still moving around. Yesterday we ran into a cat whose eyes I saw coming from a good distance. Shiny, metallic full-moons in the light of my headlamp. I suppose she was stalking us, and only veered off at the last minute when Leonard’s bark told her that he was onto her.

I remember being surprised that I wasn’t startled. I’m normally scared of the dark. In an odd way, it was disappointing. No adrenaline rush.

Last night I had a nightmare. Graphic, bloody, and… awful. The details still sit in my memory, but I am no longer moved by nightmares like before. I no longer wake in a sweat or have trouble shaking a feeling of premonition. I know this has something to do with age. I know there’s research on this aspect of aging. And I know that in so many ways I should be (and am) grateful not to have to endure nightmares as I once did.

But in an odd way, it’s disappointing. Maybe I’m afraid that life might lose its intensity?

I’ve always had the most wonderful, colorful dreams when I’ve been depressed. An almost inverse correlation between the vividness of those dreams and the dullness of my days. I’ve always believed this fact reveals a deep optimism – despite what I think I think.

So maybe there is a logic – or at least a rationale – in believing that since my dreams are getting duller my days must be getting better? No need to compensate my heart for the fear of emptiness?

Last year I had an intention to create a more spacious day-to-day. And while it has felt like a year of torsion and grinding, maybe things are finally settling. Or revealing.

When I was a kid my grandfather took an archaeology course at the local college. He took me out a couple of times on his “dig”, and taught me how to use the screen to sift through the desert earth to reveal the tiny bone fragments. Years later I married an archaeologist and once again tagged along on digs. It was astounding to watch the professor spot remnants of a fire pit even before the surface gravel had been wiped clear. I suppose it is about learning to discern the relevant details from the noise. At the time, I remember, I was skeptical. I figured he was seeing what he wanted to see. Working backwards to construct the past. But believing it with all of his mind and heart.

Maybe that is what we all do? Construct the past by sifting through rubble. Casting bits of imagination to connect what doesn’t connect naturally? Like dinosaurs in the museum. We’re pretty sure the thigh bone connected to the hip bone.

Or wing.

Maybe what I’m experiencing now is connected to discerning the relevant from the irrelevant. The useful from the useless. Maybe even in my sleep, I can spot what it is important to take away from the dream – and that not being the cold sweat.

The takeaway from last night’s dream was that we can lose so much and still be alive. Our grandfather’s die. Our marriages splinter. We get used to the pain of living and we keep on.

We learn to spot the veins of gold in the wounded walls of dark mine shafts, and we learn they are common enough not to need to get ourselves worked up over them.

The past year has been unexpectedly difficult. And then, maybe not. I’m still sifting through the rubble. Still discovering.