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Joaqu’n Torres-Garc’a: Artists’ Ball: Pierrot and Figures Standing (1921)
" … grace seems so very far beyond knowing."

By our calculations, we're within a month of departing, that point where we actually begin HeadingHomeward rather than simply preparing for the passage. The actual Heading part of the endeavor will have shrunk into pinpoint significance by the time I finish this series, so much anticipating and so very little heading. We've slipped into the ShortTiming part of the program now. Long lead times, once the prominent feature, have shriveled into remarkably narrow ones. Everything seems to need to be done tomorrow, though something tends to delay everything in turn. I could be packing, but packing produces boxes which need storing. The clutter has metastasized into unseen annoyance which leaves me feeling itchy. The staging specialist, scheduled to show up at noon today, will doubtless further complicate the effort, probably insisting that even more schlepping seems indicated before we show the place to prospective buyers. The outside painters finished their work in under two days, a blinding speed when compared with my velocity. I'm moving at the approximate speed of a stunned horse.

ShortTiming sparks some superpowers, though. In sight of an end, many mysteries have resolved themselves.
I fancy that I can finally see my future. I seem to also be really seeing my present for the first time since we first moved in. Then, I knew nothing beyond any visible horizon. I felt suspended within a place lacking context. I drove blindly, not knowing where any freeway exit might take me. Everything seemed alien and therefore noteworthy. Now, I know where most roads go and so I can transport myself ahead as well as behind. I have some history here, certainly not compared to any native, but I've been around most blocks at least once, a few even more than twice. I feel no regret at leaving. We knew when we arrived that this stop would be more or a less a holding pattern in our longer project of HeadingHomeward. I seem to be seeing this place for the first time again as we bundle up for our exit. I take notice with a sense that each glance might well be my last one here, as casual background seems certain to fade into leached out memory. We will not be returning.

I carry a begrudging mastery, finally. Most of our tenancy has featured me wandering essentially aimlessly, ultimately finding few destinations worth chasing, externalities overwhelming. I came to know my familiars and felt no impetus to explore much further. Every excursion seemed more hassle than freedom, and with the last year's lockdown, I usually chose to just stay home. And home here has mostly felt terribly lonely. The Muse has thrived virtually, seemingly in constant conversation for ten and more hours every work day. My assignment has been to stay as quiet as possible, to not run the damned dishwasher while she's in conference below and to not gobble up bandwidth while she's working. I have successfully sequestered here, even before the lockdown, once I probed and recognized this place's limits. I run errands, then head home. I might run myself through a car wash for entertainment. Trails, snowy from October until May and rattlesnake-y between, failed to attract me. My bike couldn't cope with the hilly terrain, its single gear better suited to parking in the garage.

I finally started researching resources to rid me of my two chokecherry trees, both once lovely and now nearly dead from fireblight and elk honing their antlers. They were my companions. I dutifully pruned and nurtured them, but they lived here on borrowed time. The elevation had always been a tad to high for them to thrive and hail storms stripped them of blossoms each Spring, robbing them of fruit in all but one year. Still, their shade cast fine shadows and protected the front of the place from the fiercest afternoon summer sun. They've had a good enough run, I guess, like us. I can't quite countenance passing on this place with blighted trees, though for me, this won't seem half the place without them. They have been friends.

ShortTiming brings culminations, high points aching for destruction. I accept all I was not able to accomplish here. The soil too thin and rocky for genteel cultivation, I came to more deeply appreciate the wisdom of native plants and wild grasses. I finally aspired to tend a deer meadow rather than a proper garden. I told the painters not to touch the deck or its railing. I have not forgotten my painstaking scraping and painting and it did not need any refreshing. The Muse has been after me to pack up the pots and the potting station. The garage seems overstuffed with genuine odds and ends demanding some organization. ShortTiming seems filled with demanding beginnings intended to create a graceful ending during a time when grace seems so very far beyond knowing.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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