I explored a new park, it is fun to discover all the wild space this town has to offer. It is one of those places everyone loves to hate. The endless cloudy skies (absent this summer) short days of endless snow and seeming perpetual darkness that make up six months of the year are tiring, exhausting, for me depressing. This is why I took up snowshoeing though, and though I only get to enjoy it on weekends because the darkness keeps me from doing it during the week. I thought at first that the park was a wide field with a worn dog path along the edges, until we ducked under some trees and emerged onto a wooded path.
The pirate is tinkering with flint knapping, two sets of eyes scanning the ground for Onondaga Chert, we tease each other like two kids, sword fighting with reeds and whipping each other with them as they break, brittle, on our shoulders and thighs. I emerge first onto the long swath of engineered flatness of the Onondaga Creek. I look upstream, then down, and a dark brown and sleek muskrat scampers across the path. He emerges and immediately goes to the goldenrod and wild aster and picks me a bouquet, which later I drop on the ground as I see skinny microscopic bugs crawling on my arm, but it doesn’t change the endearing quality of the gesture. I tell him how my grandmother used to tell me that a boy who brings flowers to his mother, or grandmother, will make a good husband some day. My memory of it in the wooden cupboard kitchen of the ranch house, the smell of cigarette smoke and lavender, and the scrap of the red vinyl and chrome chairs across the tiled linoleum. The taste of root beer, and gouda cheese, shrimp cocktail and Bugles swirling in my mind as we bang rocks together, sniffing them for the tell tale smell of the rock we are looking for. We find a couple that obviously have some of the chert in it, but mottled through it, it breaks brittle in our hands and not tearing off as it should to make a stone knife.
Later I read my book in the sun as he burns junk mail in a barrel, and plants fall lettuce in the garden. After an hour I go inside and make second batch of hot pepper jelly and pickled jalapeno peppers. He BBQs chicken legs as I make salad with raspberries and walnuts and mashed potatoes with chunks of sauteed mushrooms and garlic.
Later as he lay on my bed, my head on his bare chest, laughing about something, I cannot recall what I feel blessed despite the struggle of adjustment. The cats hiss at each other as his low cat wrestles with my little Sadie girl for dominance. His boy fights fiercely for a role he will not win. As she, still happy from her brief excursion outdoors, rewards us with a long cuddling purr. Pirate kisses me good night as he goes to his bed. A gift of space that I am so grateful for, my promise to never have to share a bed full time with another again, made to myself after the asshole left me. The endless nights of good rest the best thing that happened in my life in those long seconds, upon minutes, upon days upon weeks, upon months after he left.