My wife and I are quarantined. One man’s prison is another’s paradise as they say. The forthcoming ramblings emerge because, at present, I cannot. So, when faced with much time and little to do, one needs places to squeeze the cheese and blurt out some thoughts: quaranthings.
We are in southern Alberta in late Spring (or, in the indigenous language of territorial Calgarians, fourth winter). In our two-week quarantine digs it is achingly quiet. And yes, it is snowing. For the third day in a row. In late May. Welcome to southern Alberta in late Spring, or almost any time of year really.
Remove all the insistently effusive city noise and birdsong rises to the aural surface like moonlight bouncing on evening water. Except, it is morning, and their songs jostle the air around in delightful patterns of grey-green notes which tickle ears and strengthen resolve.
Not to belabour the point but, these are songs I never stop long enough to hear. Listening to them, even deciphering or pretending to interpret them, seems so much easier when, in utter silence they so prominently emerge to present themselves.
Sometimes we like to imagine heaven as a great candlelit cathedral drowning in the broad sounds of thrumming choirs. Yet, something tells me we might be surprised to discover how often Jesus – who loves sparrows, lilies, mustard seeds, lepers, and counting hairs – shushes everything so he can hear the birds in the morning, the crickets at night (apparently, heaven is in Nebraska).
I’m not alone in bibliophilia. In fact, buying, hoarding, studying, defacing, loving, and buying more, books has been my sport of choice for many years. My expertise has landed me in good company with others similarly afflicted. Book nerds: we find each other. That knowing look of glassy-eyed wonder and swollen noses from walking into posts is recognizable to anyone.
This is only Day 5 of 14 and I’m almost finished book 2. To the readers in the crowd that would normally be good news, congratulations and queries abounding. However, it is book 2 of the 3 books in total I managed to squeeze into my bag before leaving to come here. Ah yes, now the anxiety level rises in the pit of every bibliophile’s stomach. All that time left and nothing to read? Indeed. Pray for me. Maybe the third book will somehow last for over a week.
Of course, my overly-clever wife looks sideways at me, flashing her Kindle. Something about the Internet and endless downloadables. Okay, as an old school kinda guy I admit my issue is self-inflicted.
Frankly, it’s a gift to have unapologetic time for reading. Not just any reading, too. Guilty pleasure reading. Books with no apparent benefit to either career or self-betterment. Books perfectly designed to help lure me away from the temptation of perpetual improvement – the curse of the self-obsessed.
What’s not to love about lavishing to the point of languishing in a hot, soapy bath? Showers are quaintly utilitarian by comparison. It’s the I’m-too-busy-just-git-r-done way to wash. To the bathtub guild, speed and even clean aren’t the issue. It’s the spirituality of it all – hot water on clammy skin, add time, epsom salts, and of course, a book, and we are transformed into wrinkled, wobbly Jello-saints with whom decent conversation might actually be possible.
I’m aware of the hoggy water usage and the ever-so-slightly poshness of time spent in the tub. However, if you’ve ever sat with me after a long run in unnecessarily absorbent clothing and you’d certainly insist that a simple shower might not do the trick. Actually, once your eyes stopped watering you’d pour it yourself on my behalf. Trust me, I get it and I’m grateful for your involvement in my self-care.
My love affair with the bathtub started young. Even as a boy I could happily wile away hours at a time in hot-become-tepid water. They were so important to me that I would fight for first dibs on our limited hot water. That way, I could apologize to whomever followed rather than whine like a banshee over the misfortune of insufficient hot water for my tubbish mysticism.
Thank you, Bobby Darin, for the precision of your own watery observations. “Splish splash, I was takin’ a bath, long about a Saturday night…”
You are reading this on a platform cleverly called a “blog.” It is a “web log,” or better, a long and chaotic rambling of insufficiently edited TMI from someone you’ve never met nor intend to ever meet who takes too long to say nothing of any real consequence. Therefore, dear friend, if you’ve made it this far, you’re my hero.
I’ve been putting far-too-personal journal entries on the World Wide Web now for about twelve years. I am one of about six hundred million others all vying for your Internet attention. And well over half a million new websites are added every single day. Talk about your rush hour traffic. L.A. or Mexico City at 5:00pm have nothing on that!
Still, here we are. I write because it’s so much cheaper than therapy and generally more effective than the mood-altering substances which ruled my life for too many years to recall. And, I have the gift of time, a certain level of presence of mind, and you dear souls with which to share a few words of mental reconnaissance. We can see ourselves in each other and be the better for having shared our stories together.
That’s about it for now. I congratulate you for meandering with me over the space of a few words, cast aimlessly about with no other purpose but to perambulate in quarantine.
“These are a few of my new quaranthings…”