I have a better feeling about tomorrow…

I am living in the country for the first length of time in my life. I wake up most mornings to light lifting the sky out my bedroom window which faces east—a vibrant red line on the dark horizon. Slowly the color fades to orange then yellow and then a pale pink as the sun sneaks up behind the land across the river.

As the sky grows lighter, I stumble out of bed, bundle up and go downstairs, make a quick cup of tea, turn on the fire pit and sit outside with my dogs to watch the world fill with light before the sun itself appears, a throbbing yellow globe through the trees. Some mornings a cloud settles on the horizon, and I see only the effect of the sun—light cast upward, shimmering pink splashes on the clouds above until the sun finally emerges through the clouds and greets the day.

I listen to the geese waking up, honking to each other before they take flight. An American flag blows on a flag pole by the river. On a windy day it flaps wildly and on other days it luffs in the breeze.

For the past year I have been living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where oyster and crab boats quietly troll by on the river in their season. I live in the area near where James Michener wrote his doorstop-size novel Chesapeake. In fact our good friends, two of the few people we have seen regularly during this pandemic year, live in the house where Michener wrote his book.

For the first months here, I listened to Michener’s Chesapeake every day at lunch as I took a break from writing. For ten months, I have eaten the same lunch—tomato soup, rice crackers with melted chips of cheese, hard-boiled egg, grapes and frozen yogurt bar—and the same breakfast—coconut yogurt with blueberries, raspberries and slivered almonds and cup of decaf coffee—and though dinner varies, usually a salad with another hard-boiled egg, maybe tuna, few more rice crackers, another frozen yogurt. I eat the same meals because I don’t like to cook and have little imagination when it comes to food, so without planning, the routine has meant that everything again fits me in my closet. I bike every morning on a stationary bike and swim most afternoons after work is done.

Swimming at dusk and sitting by the fire pit at dawn are the particular times when I listen. I try to hear the harmony in the universe, not the arguing of political opinions nor the statistics of covid nor the rancor nor the violence of citizens intolerant with each other.

I look up at the sky and listen. On more than one occasion, clouds have broken open and a shaft of light has fallen on the water, or a pageant of clouds has swept across the blue with the wind rising, or some days the air is so still I can hear the river flowing. Nature reminds me there is a larger perspective, and if I listen, there are harmonies to hear, inspired thoughts to think. Hearing the harmony comes first and then…

I have a better feeling about tomorrow.

26 Comments

  1. James white on December 14, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Beautifully written. Thanks!

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you, Jim!

  2. Richard Bray on December 14, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Joanne,
    Who knew? Just beautiful descriptions and wise words. I figured you still didn’t cook 🙂
    Yes to a better feel for tomorrow.
    Sending you love and fond memories.
    Richard

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 7:01 pm

      Can’t believe you remember I don’t like to cook though nor much cooking in our PEN office. Love to you snd Susannah!

  3. Maryann Macdonald on December 14, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Joanne, you have best Covid life I have heard of! I’m glad the harmony you experience has inspired positive thoughts.

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 7:06 pm

      Yes, I’ve been fortunate to live in the country and to discover how much I enjoy living in a quieter place at a quieter pace, but I do miss seeing friends, including you. See you again someday in NYC.

  4. Peggy Marks on December 14, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Beautiful, Joanne – both the pictures and your writing!
    I’m struck by having a very similar experience – in a very different environment in Dallas. Since the end of October, 2019, I’ve been living in a 3rd floor apartment while rebuilding my tornado-destroyed home. It has been taking a long, long time due to shut-downs, weeks-delayed permits, changes, etc.
    Late every night I go out on my balcony to look up and listen. The sky is huge and powerful, the sounds are limited (occasional street-racing and airplanes). I just absorb the enormity and usually sleep well. When we were actually shut-down in April and May, I could see many stars, the Space Shuttle, very few airplanes. Now that people are driving & flying again, the stars are very difficult to see – but I know they are there. I’m also feeling better about tomorrow.
    Miss you! – Peggy

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 7:10 pm

      I love your descriptions too and try to imagine the sky and stars in Dallas, which I hope to visit again some day soon. Meanwhile happy holidays and new year to you and yours.

  5. Victor Sahuatoba on December 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Querida Joanne,

    gracias por compartir esa armonía y belleza interna que tan bien proyectas en tu texto literario
    Qué bueno que tengas ese presentimiento de mañana.
    Saludos cordiales desde San Miguel de Allende, México.

    Víctor Sahuatoba, vicepresidente emérito de PEN San Miguel

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Muchas gracias, Victor!

  6. Elizabeth Starcevic on December 14, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Joanne, Much envy about your routine that includes swimming. I miss that so much. The photos are glorious. This evening we had red clouds in the sky for the second night. They seem so strange.
    Hard boiled eggs are also a part of my diet. That and avocados. Endless chicken.
    I write this waiting for the final results from the electoral college. It will take a long time to heal the destruction done in this post election period. Who will trust what?
    But – as you send us beautiful photos that enter our souls –optimism and better feelings and the solstice -are all welcome.
    Thank you very much as always. Elizabeth

    • Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 7:16 pm

      What do they say—red clouds at night sailor’s delight! The elector results are now in, and I hope too healing can come. Warm wishes for an inspired new year.

  7. Doran Doss on December 14, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    I lived on the Bohemia River ( Cecil County) for 5 years and watched the tide, all 1 inch of it roll across the river. The Eastern shore was a wonderful home. So glad you are able to enjoy your time there. It’s a long way from London and LA, both in time and space. Continue to enjoy it.

  8. Joanne on December 14, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Yes, the Eastern Shore is very different from LA, NYC and London—all cities I love, but I am glad to be living in a quieter place with a quieter pace right now. Warm wishes.🌺

  9. Malcolm O'Hagan on December 15, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    Looks like you’ve been faring pretty well. Thanks for sharing.

    Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas.

  10. Joanne on December 15, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Warm wishes to you snd your family for happy holidays and mew year,🌺
    Joanne

  11. Deena Patriarca on December 16, 2020 at 12:30 am

    Lovely thoughts, beautifully expressed!! Thanks for sharing….especially the vision of the firepit👍👌 And yes, there does seem to be a little brighter light at the end of the tunnel!

    • Joanne on December 20, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Thank you, Deena and warm wishes for the holiday!🌺

  12. Marilyn Hamlin Palasky on December 16, 2020 at 1:50 am

    I love the image of you and the dogs kvelling in the sunrise by the fire pits. How many years has your writing inspired me…the structure of your solitary endeavor? It’s easy to stay your friend. Secure. Yes, Harmonious. I’ve have shredded 20 plastic milk cartons of files from 1992–to 2013 (seven years legal) collections from when my life changed with divorce.
    BTW I highly recommend the meditation of choosing what to shred. No jokes. Never shred old jokes, but evaluations aren’t bad to shred–I know how that turned out–and its all generally for the good. Shred snarky. Keep all drawings, notes and cards from the child. Priceless. For me, it’s even shredding old psychoanalytic patients–I’ve only done one, so far and it was…fraught. So, I’ve decided that was “the first round of shredding” and I will definitely go back through the remaining 5 cartons with saved “treasure” and “Let Go”…it makes for good resolving dreams and day reveries…like the ones you and Peter are in…and the boys I only know as babies.(another way you inspired me) Merry Christmas, dear friends.

    • Joanne on December 20, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing and your advice for letting go. Best wishes for a happy holiday snd lighter New year!🦋

  13. Lynda Webster on December 17, 2020 at 10:49 pm

    I, too, have been hiding away in the country since March of 2020–my morning coffee is spent looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains near Washington, VA. Like you, I often awaken to the cacophony of Canada geese leaving our small lake for their day of grazing nearby fields.

    I left an interesting but insanely busy life behind in Washington, DC. While I miss my friends and a few of the activities, I share in your love of nature–bird songs, bird cackles, bird arguments, crickets of various pitches, coyotes in the distance.

    The biggest lesson is how well we can live on so much less….. who really needs 42 pairs of shoes, umpteen pairs of black pants and a closet full of shirts and dresses? Who really needs six sets of china? I love the simplicity of my two pairs of jeans, a fleece and a few sweaters. Few choices and clothing I truly feel comfortable wearing. I’ve hidden the high heels..’.might bury them someday.

    Loved your article Joanne –I could really relate!

  14. Joanne on December 20, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    I love your description of your country life now too, the paring down and simpler pace. Hope to see you in person some time in the year ahead. Meanwhile warm wishes to you and Bill!📚🌷

  15. Chris Slaughter on December 21, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    Hi Joanne,
    This entire post really resonated with me. Your effort “to feel the harmony in the universe” has such a needed effect of untangling thoughts. And I am taking your coaching to heart to remember that “if I listen, there are harmonies to hear, inspired thoughts to think.” Listening, really listening, makes so much difference these days.
    Best to you and your family.

  16. Joanne on December 21, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you, Chris. Warm wishes to you and Linda and family. Let us hope we can see each other in person some time in the new year. In the meantime, I’m peering into the sky tonight wondering if I’ll see Jupiter and Saturn align…speaking of large thoughts & other realms to consider. Happy holidays!🌺

  17. GRETCHEN HENRY on December 26, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    I am afraid I am “late in leaving a comment” – even in this covid environment. Joanne, so beautifully written. It brought me some “calm” to this crazy world. Thank you. Hope your family is staying healthy and safe.

  18. Joanne on December 26, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you, Gretchen. Hoping we all find a more uplifting and inspiring new year. Warm wishes.

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