The sheep are semi-back into their summer pasture so I am spending more time outdoors trundling up and down the dirt road that leads to the back fields. I'm watching the birds nesting seemingly everywhere around us. I put up an old gourd in one of the maple trees in our front yard and saw a chickadee check it out, almost immediately. She popped in, deemed it livable and hours later was back with a mouthful of nesting material and her suitcase. Each morning I am awakened by a Cardinal's repeated whistle and I end the day with a walk to the bells of the Hermit thrush.
I'm delighted and amazed by the brilliant green leaves that unfurled overnight after the last rainstorm. Every spring I am ridiculously surprised by their sudden appearance. It is as if I had never seen leaves before. It has become a seasonal rite for me to ask Paul if these particular leaves don't look “just a little different?” He always smiles and dutifully answers, “you know, I think they do.”
Spring has arrived, seeming to part the darkened clouds hanging over all of us for the past few months. With it comes renewed hope (and black flies) Businesses are tentatively reopening their doors, owners peek out of their shops, faces festooned with brightly colored masks. Everything is the same, but everything is different.
When I first had to move my entire teaching studio to Skype it was hard; there were as many video glitches as eighth notes. But, slowly, I got used to perching on my stool in the kitchen, toasty warm next to our wood stove and modem. Tea and big pile of music on the cherry counter each day. There was comfort in the sameness. It seemed true that anything could become normal, over time. Periodically, I would look out the window to watch the snow fall and I understood the blessing of being warm and comfortable while working. But the icicles always melt, the ground rises up from under the snow and things thaw.
There began to be talk of restrictions loosening and there is an undercurrent of restlessness. My students have begun to ask me if I've thought about when they might come for a lesson in person again.
Seems people thaw also.
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a person who doesn't scare easily. I tend to laugh when terrified and do it anyway. But there is something in the lack of information about this situation that really does frighten me. I feel at a crossroads and am unsure of which way to turn. One day information seems to indicate that things are improving and I think, “soon.” But two days later numbers are up and our very breath is being compared to a sprinkler system, and I think “never.”
I'm not sure how we got here and I'm not sure where we are going.
What I know for sure, is that, although not listed as such, my job, teaching music, is essential. People need music for their souls. When things are most difficult in their lives, they turn to what they know, what is innate in their very being. The need for this cannot be fully filled virtually. They want to clunk into the studio with cello cases in hand, laugh, cry, clap in rhythm and get chocolate.
How do the birds know when to come back, where to nest, how to fly? While I am watching the numbers, I will also be standing at the top of my hill, listening to the wind, waiting for the answers.