by Mimi Hedl
Now that I’ve finished holiday duties, I can retreat into my little world, where the greatest satisfaction comes from little things. Like a vest I wear every day and a zipper that refused to cooperate. I’d washed the vest in the Maytag washer, and the zipper must’ve suffered some abuse when it went through the wringer. For a few days, I slipped the vest over my head, as I couldn’t unzip it. Once, I finally, after Herculean efforts, zipped it up. With free time, not dedicated to any special chore, I decided to figure out this zipper. We deal with these frustrations/challenges, countless times a day, especially if children and partners are involved, probably pets too. My solution came from oil. I applied a thin stream of sewing machine oil to the entire zipper, and then slid the zipper tab up and down, up and down, until it zipped like a well-oiled machine. That simply made my day.
I don’t work with a microscope, looking for ways to interfere with a virus trying to invade our bodies, I don’t drive a school bus for our children, and I don’t stand in an assembly line preparing chickens for supermarkets. I live a quiet life on an 80-acre piece of Ozark land where I gather twigs in the winter and steer off poison ivy in the growing season, not quite sure of what my role should be, but grateful to live in a country where I can follow my own path and celebrate, with loud shouts, my small victories.
I’d set a goal of cutting 20 canes of what I call our native bamboo. But it’s not a true bamboo, rather a giant cane that looks like miniature bamboo. The canes grow tall, like 10’, but not fat, so the head gardener can cut them with her hand-held pruners. If we don’t cut them, in one short year, the grove becomes so dense I can’t crawl inside to hide from her, the head gardener. Often she’ll do the cutting, but this year, with a mild late autumn, I’ve enjoyed the task.
So far I’ve cut 240 canes. They don’t quite fit in the shed I’ve designated for them, so I began to cut the tippy tops off, skinny but bushy. Since the grandsons won’t be here, I’ve decided to build a fort with these tops on the low limbs of the bald cypress, right next to the cane grove. I’ll pretend, something we’ve all become pros at during this time of our durance vile, they’re with me, by making this fort and sitting inside it. I can easily conjure the conversations, the requests for a sheet, more cookies, and couldn’t I smooth it out a little… In no time I’m laughing and carrying on like the goofy old lady I’ve become, convinced those boys are right here with me.
How about this new attraction on the front deck? I finally found the right material to string the spools on, the white wire from a three-wire electrical cord. A chickadee discovered it today and perched on one of the spools for a few seconds. I giggled with delight.
Several years ago my friend Kit sent me this quote from Mr. Longfellow: “The holiest of holidays are kept by ourselves in silence and apart; the secret anniversaries of the heart.” She knows I spend most holidays like this, and kindly sent me this well-worn quote to validate my solitude. Now, we all celebrate with this sentiment.
“The Hit Man”, on a Jefferson City radio station, just played Gladys Knight and the Pips performing “Let there be peace on earth”. The next line is, “and let it begin with me”. Amen and hallelujah.