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Suzanne Kusserow: Small Joys from an Old Woman In Quarantine

It is chilly, even with the sun at high noon. I hobble along to keep warm, through the flattened grasses and the skeletons of Milkweed. I will try to remember the summer meadows. The dogs snooze in the newness of a wan sun, unaware that they are now labelled as vectors.

It is hard for us, with our history of invincibility to imagine power in nothingness.  How daunting that an invisible virus can so completely immobilize with disbelief and fear.  Perhaps that is why the smallest of joys can be soothing. I have lived long enough at 88 to know isolation, to accept it and find its pockets of beauty through my window. Fatalism becomes a form of serenity.

Aside from the birds at my window, all of my visitors are now in voices. Voices become life; caring is floated on a whisper, a phone ringing. 

A chickadee has a very business-like flight, with only a few swoops…straight from the feeder with one sunflower seed in its bill, landing on a bare branch to bang away at the husk. I wonder at the amount of energy that is used up in preparing the meal. But I guess the rich oil is worth it.

A Jay sings his strident, one-note call, shifting from Pine to Balsam, doesn’t seem to come to the openness of the Red Maple. I have cut off a few twigs of it to prop up in warm water to try and speed up its metamorphosis. I should know it won’t work quite yet; nature has its own schedule. I need to find Pussy Willows down by the pond.

I scratch my arm, reaching  underneath my ragged ‘hiking’ sweater. A tiny scab rips off. I expect the usual oozing that an anti-coagulant produces. But No, it stays pink and dry…a testimony to the body’s ability to heal itself.  We need that now.

         My son-in-law wanders in his garden following the paths of snow-melt. The tulips are up early: small spikes of folded leaves, the color of dried blood. 

         I hear a chittering of birds as a flock of Finches flit overhead. People have said they have seen Robins, but none here. The grandfather of Corvids flies overhead, his song starting with a gurgle and ending in a burp…completely unmelodious. One guard Crow settles in the tallest Black Cherry; the three others fly low to see if they can roust a chickadee from my feeder.

         I move my rickety lawn chair to a sheltered spot. The lawn is littered with the detritus of two dogs not willing, in freezing weather, to venture farther than the back door. It is dangerous to watch the sun and your feet at the same time.

         The sun finds a small cloud to hide behind and the wind turns chilly. It is winter again.

          Snow. The eaves drip, the Balsam turn into Christmas again.  I can see the small hill behind our old house; we dragged stones down to outline our garden. The kids ran barefoot all summer and washed their lithe bodies in the summer rains.

Copyright 2020 Suzanne Kusserow

Willem Jan Kusserow-Lair

11 comments on “Suzanne Kusserow: Small Joys from an Old Woman In Quarantine

  1. Jennifer Cover Payne
    February 14, 2021

    Dear Sue,
    A voice from the past here. We met over 40 years ago in a summer writing class at UVM.. I introduced you to Bill Lewis at a dessert in my little apartment. You brought your famous apple pie. Magic happened.
    You married Bill and built a spectacular house with glorious green Mountain views. Wardell and I visited you there.

    I married Wardell. Payne who taught in the Sociology Dept. We moved to Washington, DC, parented two wonderful children and are grandparents of a beautiful little girl. We have been married 42 rapidly moving years in June.

    The universe put. In my head. I looked you up and found your fabulous reflections of our new world. Would love to stay in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jalerner11
    March 28, 2020

    Sue, It was such a treat during these scary shut-in times to take this quiet walk with you behind your home. Thank you for spreading your wisdom on this slice of your life. xoxo Jessica (Adrie’s friend from Amherst)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Isabelle Pilo
    March 27, 2020

    I really enjoyed reading your poem, it painted a beautiful picture in my mind. Miss you and I hope I can come see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chet Scerra
    March 27, 2020

    Now that we’re all immobilized by the “viral apocalypse”, it’s a refreshing boost out of the doldrums to read such wonderfully descriptive words. It’s obvious that Kusserow’s finely honed mindfulness and observational skills allow her to appreciate the finer points of existence that go unnoticed by most. Her ability to put such mindful observations to paper is a treat for us all. As a result I’m going to get dressed and go for a walk.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Meg Newhouse
    March 26, 2020

    Dear Suzanne, I now see where Adrie’s writing ability comes from. This is balm for my soul. Thank you for calling my attention to the details of Gaia’s creations and sharing your wisdom. Meg

    Liked by 1 person

  6. KIm Gutschow
    March 26, 2020

    What a gorgeous poem Sue, loved all the bird images, and the contrast between dog poop below and sun above, reminds me of the Tao and Heaven and Earth metaphors. Robin tried much earlier this winter to bring in some oak branches, plant them in water but they did not stir for two months, they have a deeper wisdom it seems and are not fooled by being inside our kitchen window. wish we humans could learn that kind of knowing…
    xxx hugs,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kate Baldwin
    March 26, 2020

    “It is hard for us, with our history of invincibility to imagine power in nothingness.” This is so powerful, thank you for sharing your powers of observation, reflection, and absorption.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jose Alcantara
    March 26, 2020

    “Fatalism becomes a form of serenity.” Wise counsel, though your writing seems rich with much much more than fatalism.

    Thank you, Jose.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cynthia Seybolt
    March 26, 2020

    Really lovely, Sue. It reminds me that this enforced quiet time can be viewed as a gift – a time to observe, reflect, and be grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 26, 2020

    Thank you for this beauty and perspective. Stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

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