Monday, October 3, 2011


Fall is here. Every time I go outside, I can smell wood smoke - wood stoves are common in upstate NY. I have been so busy trying to get through the last three months, that except for fleeting, intense moments of grief, I haven't faced the loss of our home (or even less so, my wrecked car) in any meaningful, helpful way. But this smell of fall makes me hurt somewhere deep inside, in the same way I hurt for my children when they express their feelings of loss so much more articulately than I have so far. My husband has been at our house, cleaning it out In preparation for putting it on the market, and it is horrible for him. I don't honestly know how he does it. I have only been there two or three times since the fire and I could hardly stand it. Now is the time of year when Tom would be hauling wood from a friend's orchard, splitting it, firing up the chainsaw. The kids would be hauling the split wood in wheelbarrows to one of three areas, and we would be moving the old rocker glider into the laundry room corner as a study space in front of the fire. Emma and I spent last year trying to be the first person to claim this spot each day, piling our books, snacks, and matching slippers next to it, and snuggling up with our laptop and a warm blanket. Whomever lost would sit on the hassock, hunched over their work, but still happy to soak up the warmth and companionship. We talked a lot of philosophy in front of that stove last year. We never used our clothes dryer, because my husband strung line throughout the room and the stove dried everything faster than electric with the added benefit of the damp clothes and towels adding moisture to the dry air of winter. The wood stove was central in our lives. It was a symbol of less reliance on technology, kept us mindful of the work that goes into staying warm, kept us closer physically in the cold weather, provided exercise for everyone, and reduced our heating payments to nothing. It was time consuming, messy, sometimes inconvenient. But the choice to heat with wood, to live in the country, to create and maintain a huge vegetable garden, to can apples and pears from our trees, to dry our clothes with the sun and the wood stove - these are choices that are taken away from us. Yes, I miss my bed. I miss seeing the deer in our field each morning. I miss walking my dog and practicing tonglen as I consider each neighbor's house I walk by. My children's losses break my heart. They miss their swing set that Tom built by hand. They miss picking apples and getting fresh eggs from our two chickens each day(not so much cleaning out the coop!).t. They miss our next door neighbors Mark and Rose(me too). There is no closure. No way to fix this loss, for any of us. We are transported to a new life where you turn on the heat and there is no work to it. To a life where it is against association rules to hang clothes out. To a life where I buy eggs at a Wegman's where I can't find the peanut butter aisle. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful we are alive, and for insurance and for the net of love and community that has held us throughout. But the smell of fall - it makes me homesick in a way I haven't been ready to face just yet. It feels lime a long time until we will "be home" again.

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