Sunday, 2 March: Morning
In the wee hours, after I finally fall asleep, the weather finally comes. Even in my slumber, I’m dimly aware of the semi-frozen rain as it hits the window. I’ve been in the desert long enough now not to take the sound of precipitation for granted, and so spend most of the early morning in a half-sleep, listening first to The Weather and second to the sounds of Mr. Indiana, Anna, and Wesley quietly puttering around. I’m reluctant to awaken, because when I do, that will commence the final hours I spend with them. Duncle will come to pick me up later, and while I’m excited to see him, I still hate leaving.
Sunday, 2 March: Afternoon and Evening
Miraculously, the weather holds, and the Big Snowfall of Doom holds off. Nonetheless, we decide that I should leave Optimus Prime at Mr. Indiana’s place and submit to Duncle chauffeuring me around. Just after one, he shows up, and after a brief good-bye—how painfully sudden our parting, after two leisurely days together—Duncle and I are on our way.
It’s been two years since we’ve seen each other, but immediately, we fall into our usual pattern of casual banter, peppered with caustic jabs, foul language, and the occasional rather deep observation. Duncle is one of my favorite people alive, and it’s completely crazy to me that he’s now ten years older—he seems never to age. Perhaps those who retain a young mindset are like that.
Twenty minutes later, we arrive at his and Jo’s home—they live on North Mount Gilead Road, and really, is there anything more Midwestern-sounding than this? on twelve acres of land, at the edge of a wooded ravine. In the summer time, you can’t see through the forest, as it’s leafy and green, but now at the end of winter, there’s not a green thing or leaf to be seen. Jo—a wiry, energetic older woman who’s in much better shape than I am, agrees to hike with me to the bottom of the ravine, and so we bundle up and set off.
The verdict? Ravines are much easier to look down into than to climb down into.
By the time we come back to the ravine, the snow is beginning to fall more heavily, and it’s therefore a perfect time to retire to the warmth and coziness of the house. Jo, perhaps sensing my ever-lasting fixation on this view, obligingly settles at the dining table so that I can gaze out at the view for the duration of our catching-up, which goes on through the late afternoon and the early evening.
She and Duncle and I simply talk, about everything from books to cholesterol to grief. After that, we have a simple but delicious dinner of cod and asparagus and baked potatoes, and a fragrant apple crumble for dessert.
That night, surrounded by family who know and love me, I sleep better than I have in a long time.
“The ones that know you so well are the ones that can swallow you whole…” –Dar Williams