Letter to My Son

Dear Ben,

Midnight and the wind still bends these aged rafters. The house groans and sighs. Willows rap on the windows, and I eye their naked limbs by the pond encased just under the surface. Even the spruce boughs lean and rub against the cedar shakes.

The household, bedded down in thick quilts, sleeps soundly. Alone this evening, I wedge a block of elm into the flames; sparks brighten the darkness. Frets of firelight burnish the old brass pitcher, the pewter pot in the corner. Settling into my chair, I reflect upon the many voices that once continued late here into the night, your old man’s, your granddad’s being the loudest. How your mother would stir the earthen crock of warm molasses, the kneaded bread beside the hearth lending fragrance to our discussion.

Lightning flashes in the window. I get up to draw the shade, check on the grandchildren, catching a glimpse of the clouds billowing and fast-moving across the sky. Shuffling back to my chair I know your mother is right. I need to exercise. Even just walking around the house a few times every day.

I grab some nosh from the larder—an apple, some almonds. No one will ever go hungry here. Stacks of canned peaches, pears, tomatoes, beans, large containers of potatoes, beets, wheels of cheddar, chestnuts. No lazy hands created this plentitude. Against all odds, we live almost completely off the land now. Though the virus rages throughout the world, our life is fairly secure comfortable. I quiver to think of those living in the city, supplies in short supply, even soap and sanitizer. You remember how soft our stuff is on the skin.

Your old man rambles. I miss our conversations, working alongside you milking or just patching the fence. I miss your cooking. We’re doing well, sheltering in place, no need for masks but your sister has made a ton of them anyway. Next week we’ll cut a tree for Christmas. The snow is deep and heavy, but you can write here, get the solitude you need. Immerse yourself in nature. Give it some thought, son. I’ll even make the rum eggnog…



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