Being Sick and ‘Hinking

Earlier in the week, the Mallowman and I still felt like c@#p. We had tested positive for Covid; our symptoms were relatively mild, but the key here is relative—we had had the full complement of vaccines and boosters and still pretty darned miserable. Additionally, as soon as we tested positive, we followed up with our doctors and were put on the antiviral that helps mitigate the effects and hopefully, avoid the most serious complications of this dratted bug. Covid is not to be messed with. I find myself looking for ways to ‘raise the red flag,’ with those around me; in fact, am trying to do so but am also pretty sure it’s a fool’s errand. Our communal capacity to look hard realities in the face for any length of time leaves much to be desired; “we are so over this pandemic.” It is my sense that we simply do not have the civic will to make even small sacrifices to be “care-ful” of those who are most vulnerable around us. I fear it will be a hard winter in that regard.

With apologies, I now step down from my soapbox.

Neither of us was at our best and the world hadn’t stopped for us. Right before we got sick, we rigged up a way to move our new baby girls out of a space grown too small for them in the garage and into the new chicken coop. They were safe from the big mamas who share the space with them, they were warm, and they were growing like weeds (they are now almost 8 weeks old; all their feathers are out).

It was past time for the little ones to start getting out into the open spaces where they will live life. Lying in bed, after several movie marathons, I’d been ‘hinking,’ like my girl Maria likes to say, and had a plan to get the babies out in the chicken yard protected from the big hens. We could expect those big mamas to be really mean to them if we threw them all in together. It is one of the comic curses of our marriage that Sherod and I have a hard time communicating around a project like this. I tried to explain and draw a picture in the air of what I was thinking. Sherod snort-laughed and began to wave his arms in exaggerated imitation of me. Of course, I couldn’t keep a straight face so I threw up my arms and walked away. “Fine,” I thought, “I will take care of it myself.” With all that time not doing a whole lot, I kept thinking and thinking, convinced I could find a solution.

And then I did. I remembered I had a puppy playpen I’d gotten for this transitional stage but had turned out to be too small. The first time the pen package was delivered by Amazon, it came without the dowels necessary to assemble it; all I got was the panels. I ordered a new one and had not yet returned the one that was incomplete. Combined, the panels would give me the pass-through I needed. I found some pieces that would work just fine as dowels and had one more ‘chicken run, like the one inside the coop, delivered by Amazon. This morning, I woke up feeling better, though I had a headache I chose to ignore. All the pieces were here so I assembled my chicken yard solution all by my little lonesome self and lo and behold, it is working like a dream. There was sweet pleasure bringing Sherod out to look. It is neither fancy nor real sturdy, but it will do.

Since it’s wintertime and the weather is nippy, I’ve set it up so the little ones can run into the coop and warm up under the heat lamp and heaters whenever they need to. The babies are ecstatic, zooming around, giving themselves dust baths, discovering the big wide world they have been born into.

Me? I probably should have paid a little more attention to the headache and how tired I felt when I woke up. Last week, when I tested positive, I talked to my doctor about when I could return to work. Especially because there are folks in my parish getting on in years, and the RSV/Flu stuff is hitting so hard, she said, “give it a couple of days after you test negative.” I’ve been assuming that by today I’d be negative and free to resume life on Sunday. Not happening. The headache and tiredness come from the fact I am still testing positive. Take it easy. Hurry up and wait some more. Be patient. I am fortunate that, while it is taking way too long to get over Covid, my symptoms could be so much worse. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. But at least I can sit out in the sun and watch my babies play…

Winter Where I Live

It gets grey, rainy, breezy, windy. Even when it isn’t that cold, the humidity is relentless and the days raw; my knuckles ache. The unctuous red mud. That mud that is everywhere when you live in the country. That Alabama red clay is its worst self when the rains come.

All that is true and so is this: The besotting beauty, when the rain has passed and the ground fog, quietly, ever so quietly, slips in and wraps itself around my heart. I love this place.