McKinley is asleep beside me, having weaseled his way into my bed earlier while I was still downstairs talking with Rae, my second oldest, who will be eighteen next month. The wind is supposed to get wicked tonight–it certainly was last night–but for now all I hear is his gentle breathing.
Tomorrow we are throwing a New Year’s Eve/Sean’s Going Away party. Sean is my brother. We bought a half keg tonight and there’s a little pre-party going on next door. My house is pretty tidy already for the party–a first–and that has everything to do with my newfound appreciation for near-constant cleaning. This is, of course, necessary when all the kids are loitering about for the holidays. Present, wrapping, recycling, and plastic packaging all must be dealt with, in layers. I think it took three solid afternoons of Christmas cleaning to get everything sorted away, plus trips to the [In]Convenience Center for the mountain of cardboard I meticulously collected and broke down in preparation for recycling. Folks that live in urban areas with curbside recycling have it made. Folks that live in rural areas with no inclination to recycle also have it made. At least we have a truck.
Anyway, the party is tomorrow and mostly I am sad about the prospect of Sean moving away. He’s lived next door since we bought the place this past February, and I’ve just really enjoyed having my baby brother so near. But I know he has to move, for this rural existence is difficult for a single man who does not wish to lead a solitary life, if you know what I mean. The fact that our county is dry only compounds the problem for him. So he’s moving to the colorful city of Asheville, leaping, really, into the unknown, and his leap has been compromised by a recent car wreck which left him uninjured, and the van which he hit unscathed, but which pretty much demolished his Honda Prelude. So he’s got no job set up yet in his new town, but he’s had to buy a new vehicle. Sometimes leaping can twist the ankle.
Now the wind is whipping up, and the wind gennies outside are howling.
Renee woke up this morning next to me, having been the first last night to find a way to weasel into my bed (notice a pattern here?). She opened up her luscious brown eyes and asked me what people ate in the country. Same as everyone else, I answered, but she shook her head and clarified her question, gathering her thoughts from her dream, I think. “No,” she said, “do people eat cactus in the country?”
“You mean the desert?”
“Yes, yes, the desert…do people eat cactus in the desert?”
“Yes, I think they do,” I told her, remembering a meal I had once in an Tex-Mex restaurant that had cactus as an ingredient.
This answer was very satisfying to her. She nodded and snuzzled up to me while the bright winter Sun spilled into the room, rousing us.
There’s much on my mind tonight, but the wind is gathering down the valley, and I can hear it approaching, a wind train that shakes the house when it comes. The gentle easy breathing of McKinley seems like a refuge from this wind, and so I will bury myself in the covers and turn off the light. Soon my husband will come home from the pre-party next door. He will lift his son into his arms and carry him to his proper bed, tucking him in with warm covers. I will wake in the morning with my husband on one side, and a weasel on the other. I will be warm and crowded and thankful, for a good morning, a good life, and a good year.