Halloween dawned, or tried to, with the famous Blue Moon likely to be hidden behind some clouds. This year I spent it a long way away from where I was last year at this time, having moved myself Lock Stock and Barrel to another part of America.
For me, the fall, beginning with the first sweet winds of September, is a time to take a look at the entire year. Before the leaves turn their exuberant colors, I ask: What did I promise? Did I do it? What remains for this year?
Covid has been costly. Friends, family, work acquaintances have all been touched, some of them lost.
I began 2020 with a plan. I’d sell my house in spring and move. By January I’d finally decided on Oregon.
I set out for a five-week trip to Africa, as is my habit every year to go adventuring. From February to early March I was ignorant of what was brewing in the world.
When I came back, I barely had time to say Holy Cow before we went into lockdown. No time to buy toilet paper – by that time the shelves were bare.
I took mask-wearing seriously. As my gym closed and went bankrupt, as my options for exercise were reduced, I did my best to stay active. Meanwhile, I finalized the plan to put my house on the market.
In the middle of this I drove to Eugene, OR, and set up shop in the local hostel. Spent umpteen hours looking at houses, wearing masks and booties.
Ultimately, I decided on this house which looks out over the huge firs and holly trees, the fog wafting through the branches.
I drove back to Denver and was finally able to find a buyer for the beloved house where I’d birthed my wilder.
Irrespective of Covid, things still happen. I had put on quarantine weight from sitting (join the club) and was itching to get back to hiking.
Life had another plan.
Three days before I signed the house paperwork, I was hospitalized with kidney stones and a serious infection. I spent six days recovering from the surgery at a friend’s house in Denver. I was sent home the day before the closing. As I backed out of my driveway for the final time, the new owners waved at me joyfully from the shade of what was now their aspen grove.
My car was jammed with the last of my earthly belongings. I’d already packed, shipped, and stored all the rest in May. On 7/29, I drove out before dawn towards the Rockies, no longer a resident of Colorado.
After 50 years in that state, at the age of 67, I was on my way. I was taking care of myself.
Twelve hours later, just outside Twin Falls, Idaho, another kidney stone hit me hard. My sudden reaction to that pain sent me airborne. My car flipped and landed in the opposing lanes.
Thankfully, nobody else got hurt. As to me, I carved a small canoe in my forehead, slammed a shoulder, fractured a finger… and that was all.
My car was a pancake. Yet remarkably, I was fine – comparatively.
I arrived in Eugene to a home devoid of furniture. I slept on the floor for three weeks. No friends, relatives, or neighbors to help with the endless chores of moving and set up. As a work crew installed hardwood, outside my picture windows the skies filled with thick ash.
Horrific wildfires only a few miles away devastated the very forests I’d moved here to hike. My phone blared all night with Level Three (GO NOW GO NOW GO NOW) evacuation notices for new neighbors right up the street.
It took weeks for the skies to clear, and even more time for the town to get back on its feet. Each and every one of us has been taking care of ourselves, the best way we know how.
I’ve spent weeks discovering the shops and hidey holes. A stable with a competent trainer. Busted a toe on the furniture. Day after day, Covid or no Covid, life goes on.
While I had to cancel a return trip to Mongolia this year, the fall season has filled my world with the joys of carving out a place where I have long wished to live.
As we enter the final months of 2020, there is much to be grateful for. There have been losses. There is still turmoil. There is much work to be done and a lot that needs taking care of.
In the northern hemisphere, it’s the time of harvest. No matter what has happened this year, there is something for us to give thanks for. There are people and events which have delivered grace to our doorsteps.
I missed the goblins. But despite all that has happened this year, my goblet is full. For my oldest friends have always taught me to choose to see what is good, even as we must also deal with what may be difficult. And that is, after all, what harvest time is all about.
What gifts have you gained this year from the challenges you’ve faced? Were you able to achieve any of the goals you set forth for 2020? What insight can you offer those who continue to struggle? Please share it in the comments below and join the conversation!