Old dread

These words, two months ago, have proven to be good guidance, and underline one of the more astounding things about my 2020; that I haven’t been sick at all.  Not with COVID, we’ve been quite cautious with that, but with a cold or a flu.  Between working in schools and having plenty of stress upon occasion, I can’t recall the last winter, to say nothing of a whole year, without at least a little illness.

When it comes to stress I must be doing something right.  Given the volume of stress this year, and the omnipresence, I haven’t had a reasonable alternative.


Our daily routines hadn’t changed that much, back in September, which was a handy benefit, as local COVID cases have escalated drastically.  We had more new ones last week than we had all spring and summer, which has only served to reinforce habits, most of which existed BC (before COVID).  I’ve altered my arrival and depature at school, avoiding people even more than I used to.  We only get takeout, and eat it outside.  We don’t see other people, which again, isn’t that far from things as they were before.  We go on vacation, cook our own food, and sleep outside.   In all of this we are fortunate.  Precious few habits and dreams have been definitively out of reach this fall.

The combination of small people and the cold, long evenings of November have made things more difficult.  Easy refuge at the library or kids museum are not options this winter, and our children’s energy does not fit easily in the house for too many hours at a stretch.  30 pound humans get cold easily, and we just happened to come home last month, after a week in the desert, to two feet of snow and temps below zero.  Since then the snow has melted, fallen again, and melted, and I’ve put serious effort into training the children, and to providing ways to make being out in the dark and the cold appealing.

The snow melting has made that much easier.  Little Cloud is finally runbike obsessed, and several good wrecks on ice patches have yet to dampen his enthusiasm.  He’s also, verbally and conceptually, come to know what hunting means.  Long walks through deadfall are beyond him, but short walks to a nice tree where you can cook sausages and ramen over a fire (top) are great fun.  On that outing I was somehow the only one to step on a cactus.  Being out in the moment isn’t just a vital way to put kid energy to good use, it is an essential distraction from how thoroughly our leaders and neighbors are failing us.  Optimism grows more easily in starlight.

4 responses to “Old dread”

  1. well put. always enjoy your writing.

  2. What time do you want us over for Thanksgiving supper? :)

    My wife isn’t overly tickled (I’m putting it mildly) that the Helena School District is still clinging on to in school teaching in light of the surge in Covid cases here and around the state. They decided to close both high schools so that staffing shortages in the elementary and middle schools can be filled in by high school staff. Of course the shortages are due to multiple staff (and students) who have tested positive or been exposed to someone who has tested positive and are quarantined. She is having real trouble following that logic.

    1. Planning on a big party for summer solstice 2021.

      The school issue is tough. On the one hand schools have somewhat remarkably not been a consistent source of transmission. On the other, who wants to be the exception to that? I’m fortunate in that I don’t see many students in a given week, and can take precautions like going outside often, and having an open window and 2-way fan in my office. Nonetheless, nerve wracking doesn’t quite encapsulate the creeping anxiety associated with that.

      1. “Planning on a big party for summer solstice 2021.”

        count us in!

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