Tagmoon

Night

The thing about depression is that it is rarely a good topic for discussion. It is so relentlessly grinding, and so relentlessly dull to anyone other than the sufferer.

If you are lucky, there are windows. They open from time to time, just long enough for a splash of sunlight on your face, a reminder that there is fresh air waiting to be breathed, fox tracks still to be followed. You learn to collect moments like these and store them in a box labeled Hope.

This weekend I walked down to the beaver pond as night was falling. The beavers that live there spend much of their time damming up the culvert that passes beneath the road. The town works crew spends far less of their time ripping the dam out to keep the water off the road. The pond is in three tiers though. The furthest back is on protected land, the gift of a modern-day hermit who used to live in a small structure there.

I went to the far end of the back pond and sat by the water. I could hear the stream faintly there, but nothing else beyond the traffic from the road, the barking of dogs. After ten minutes or so, a flock of ducks were spooked up out of the water. I could neither hear nor see what drove them up. The coyotes that live in these woods are perfectly capable of watching me from mere feet away without me ever knowing. I take comfort in that, in the resilience of life here, whether I see it or not.

On the way back, I’m thinking about trees. It is that moment in nightfall when the trees are perfect against the almost dark. If I were a painter, I think I might spend my entire life trying to capture it. Especially this time of year, when there are no leaves to hide the lines. Somewhere our flock of turkeys are sleeping, but they are as hidden to me as the coyotes now.

The moon is up, a silver crescent. The air is cold, and I’m thinking about how my small daughter spent the previous night sleeping in a sleeping bag under the stars with a group of girls and women. She fell asleep with that moon above her, and woke in the morning to frost on her bag, and right then there is nothing I want more than to take the same sleeping bag and find an open field and spend a night there like I haven’t for far too many years.

Around the corner is my house, with the light from the windows streaming onto the lawn. My children are chasing each other out there–my daughter, who is learning to challenge her fear of the dark, and my son, who is growing into the kind of man who looks at his mother and tells her that she should always write whatever makes her happy, because that is the only reason to write. Inside, my husband is washing the dishes. I watch them all for a minute from the dark. They do not see me.

It is enough.

The waiting

The moon is beautiful tonight. It hangs just beyond the trees in the backyard, and I can watch it through the windows by my desk. Around the full moon everything changes here. The cats run back and forth through the house late at night, and the children sleep fitfully, and I…well, I dream of puppies.

But that’s another story entirely.

I’ve had two days now of no writing. It shows. I’m unable to relax when I don’t write. I pace, mentally, if not physically. My mind is with my characters, and I make them pace as well. We all languish, trapped in the equivalent of a break room in my head, a space with dingy walls, smelling of stale smoke and sweat, everyone sniping at one another.

There’s also this thing about writing novels, about the way they build and build until suddenly they have incredible forward momentum. To pause in the midst feels a bit like asking an avalanche to wait politely while you finish cooking dinner. Only in this case, you’re the only one disturbed by the avalanche. No one else understands why you’re jumpy and upset.

It will wait. It must wait. Tonight the moonlight will reflect off the snow and light the bedroom, and the cats will yowl and tussle, and the kids will talk in their sleep, and I will dream, not of puppies, but of a rocky coast and the cold ocean water and a girl swimming out into the dark.

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