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The Big Expanse

January into February is one long expanse. On this cooped up (or is it cozied in?) Saturday, I hear the ice graze the windows. I think back to the many days already spent sledding. And I see out the back the snowman holding steady. I think of my four year old son declaring to his teacher that there would be six more weeks of winter.

Here is the crossover to winter’s second half. And she is teaching — with not only the usual freezing temperatures to invite hibernation, but the new rasp of pandemic. And next month, one year into this virus, I will not be able to say that there is a month in the year in which I do not know this peculiar isolation.

My friend and I swap pictures of the decadent delights coming from our kitchens. She has a beautiful King Cake in the works as Mardi Gras approaches. And here, my husband has bent to my daughter’ pleas for a yule log, complete with merengue mushrooms. I pop popcorn so that we can hunker in together. And I somehow hope I can convince my children to watch neither Robin Hood nor Swiss Family Robinson. “Let’s watch something we haven’t seen,” I say, desiring some new stimulation into some world we haven’t yet imagined.

And the new little pup, Silky, is curled into a ball, content with the quietude while the children scramble in the basement. He’s been with us a month and is still coming to know our rhythms. Occasionally I find a special surprise in an unwelcome corner and he continues to nip at the kids’ little ankles. He’ll be our ongoing reminder of long stretches at home. The stretch before my own bedtime is spent trying to tire him out. I run around the island like a banshee and toss the ball down the corridor endlessly. And we are rewarded in the morning with an extra hour of sleep. He keeps me in the moment.

And he makes this long season less lonely. I catch my daughter petting him, talking to him with such tenderness. She gets her recorder out, makes three toots, and is convinced that she has trained him to sit. I see my son gingerly approach as Silky wakes from a nap and he lets the puppy lick his fingers. This second half of winter–it has its blessings. Subtle sometimes. Welcome.

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Rev. Claire Matheny View All

Pastor | Kittamaqundi Community Church | Columbia, Maryland

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