You never know what people are really thinking.
I was sitting on the front porch peacefully shelling corn into a huge speckled canning pot when it came to my attention that someone thought I was a devil worshipper.
Let me back up. I woke feeling horrible. Headache, clogged ears, lots of coughing. It was probably due to spending the day before helping a friend unpack at her new house. We had a lovely time talking as we worked. As always, I was impressed by the way she manages to combine deep intelligence with common sense. Unfortunately, workers were there too, sanding and varnishing.. The dust and fumes didn’t bother her but I could barely breathe. With all my sneezing and coughing she probably thought that I was a giant walking germ.
That’s what led to spending most of today, by necessity, away from the swivel chair and computer where I make my paltry living as a freelance writer and editor. My eyes just couldn’t focus on the screen. Instead I tended to quiet tasks that didn’t burden my swimming head. I cut tomatoes for the dehydrator. I washed the dirt off our harvest of new potatoes. I picked and shelled some of our pink beans. Unlike hours spent in front of the computer, where time seems to flash by, the day moved in a lovely slow motion.
By afternoon I’d moved to the porch. I brought out bones we get free from the local butcher, so the dogs sat happily gnawing. The sky was blue. It was quiet and meditative. I sat with a large bucket filled with the parching corn we’d grown. The kernel colors range from pale orange to deep purple. Some are swirled with red and white. They pull from the dry cob with a satisfying klunk into the pot.
I sat there thinking how meditative it was to have my hands engaged and my mind free. We rarely notice the pleasure found in simple work. Until a few generations ago humanity had no electronic distractions. No music playing in the background, no TV or radio, no smartphones or computers. We had a lot more time for contemplation. I’m as guilty as everyone else of cluttering up my head with all these distractions but I found myself enjoying my unexpected sick day.
The mail carrier arrived. Our mail box is on the other side of the street. If he’s got a package for us he pulls in the driveway and honks. I run out in my sock feet, no matter the weather, and we exchange a few pleasantries while he hands over our postal loot. He’s always cheerful. Today he didn’t really look at me. Instead he asked, “What does that moon mean?”
“Oh, that’s been there a few years, did you just notice it?”
“What’s it there for?”
“It’s a mosaic,” I said, feeling strangely silly. There was a long pause.
I could have, I suppose, explained. When my mother died she left behind many beautiful things. Some of her plates and cups were chipped but I couldn’t bear to throw them away. So my husband and son cut a huge half moon for me out of scrap metal and I adhered them to the surface, along with blue glass (her favorite color). I’m not sure why I asked them to cut a moon shape but I remember thinking how my mother and father used to dance after supper when a song they liked came on the radio. She’d take off her apron and they’d swoop back and forth on the linoleum to tunes like Moon River. It has stood in our front flower bed, seven feet tall, ever since.
“My daughter says the moon is a sign of devil worshippers,” he informed me. Then he zipped out of the driveway.
I sat back down with my unshelled corn and my headache, deciding I might as well laugh about the joys of rural living. You never do know what people are thinking.
By the way, it turned out to be an excellent day despite the whole sick thing. That evening a burst of rain brought us something we’ve never seen. A rainbow with the beginning and end visible, starting in our yard and ending in our neighbor’s yard. I’m so lucky my daughter ran out to photograph it. At least she was thinking of light, beauty, and things that sparkle only briefly.