Waiting to Fall Apart

The days tick by. Snow melts, then it snows again. The sun comes and goes. The list of what’s important shrinks, a vanishing horizon of the shit we thought mattered. There is birdsong in the mornings. I don’t know what kind. We walk and walk some more. Rinse and repeat. High up on Silver Road I run into Dan on his four wheeler, and we talk across the width of the dirt road, twice the recommended six feet. No one’s buying logs, he says. Gas is a buck-fifty at Willey’s, he says. He speeds off. I amble on.

Back home, I split wood for fires that won’t burn for seven months or more. The boys are down in the orchard shooting clays, their guns booming over and over again. I hear their laughter between shots. I imagine how some years from now, they’ll look back on this time. And how will they regard it? How will any of us? It’s one of those questions with no answer, so I let it slide and set another round of wood on the block. It’s ash, and it splits so easy it’s almost as if it were waiting to fall apart.

23 thoughts on “Waiting to Fall Apart”

  1. I think your boys will say the old man had his head to the ground and prepared us well for both hard times and good times.

  2. Ben…..Loads of questions without answers during this unprecedented time in the lives of all of us. I’m stranded on the west coast, my return flight to my home in China cancelled, subsequent flights cancelled too. How long will this last? How long will I be reliant on the roof of a friend? Will I somehow get the virus? If I do, will it kill me? I’m well into the age group vulnerable to it.

    The other side of this coin has brought the lowest gas prices in I don’t know how long. But there is really no place to go since we can’t congregate with anyone. And if I had my choice right now I’d rather be splitting wood preparing for a better future. Need some free help?

    Please stay safe.

  3. It is a bit frightening to realize that this may become a new normal and thus “these times” may not be so distinguishable henceforth.

  4. Hi cuz, I am now living in a taste of your homeschooling world as remote learning has taken over our country. Having to connect with my students through technology and helping my children do their school work is not ideal, however it is the next best thing at this point in time. It makes me wonder how much we take being able to teach and learn in person for granted. Distance learning is a solution, but I am hoping it’s only a temporary moment in our life. I know your boys will look back at this and know their Dad did everything to keep his family informed and safe. Be well Ben.

    1. Scott! So nice to hear from you. Thanks for everything you’re doing to keep your students engaged… I bet it’s not easy. Love to all.

  5. Beautiful post, Ben. That last line gave me chills. Sending you positive energy and hope for your continued good health.

  6. We nearly have the numbers to call this a family reunion, so hi all with the particular H in their name. Silver linings. LIke Jan Small, or Jans Mall, the last line gave me chills too.

    1. Bruce! Hewitt #4 in one comment thread. A record, I daresay. Thanks for the kind words. Give my best to Carol.

  7. Just like New England weather, our entire human existence has abruptly and unexpectedly taken a turn. This time however, the turn is surreal and not just regional but global. Suddenly we (life’s most “brilliant species) have become subservient to a submicroscopic virus! Leave it to you Ben, to see clearly the good in all of this. Our established routines, beliefs, and priorities have suddenly become irrelevant “shit.” Precious beauty and meaning that have always surrounded us are now perceived AND appreciated. Life shall be lived in an orbit of infinitely greater gratitude. Thank you Ben!

    1. Outstanding post, Kent. And Ben deserves every single bit of praise he has ever gotten or will get. Ben Hewitt gives me a place of refuge.

    2. Oh my god, another one!! Where oh where is the Swami? His absence is more conspicuous by the day. (Thanks, Kent!)

  8. “The list of what’s important shrinks, a vanishing horizon of the shit we thought mattered.” Oh, so true. Reminds me of the wonderful Frightened Rabbit’s song, “Things.”

    Well here’s the evidence of human existence
    A splitting binbag next to two damp boxes
    And I cannot find a name for them
    They hardly show that I have lived

    And the dust, it settles on these things
    Displays my age again
    Like a new skin made from old skin
    That had barely been lived in

    I didn’t need these things
    I didn’t need them, oh
    Pointless artifacts from
    A mediocre past
    So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh
    Down to the bone and burned the rest

    I didn’t need these things
    I didn’t need them, oh
    Took them all to bits
    Turned them outside in
    And I left them on the floor
    And ran for dear life through the door, oh

    . . .

  9. You mentioned the birdsong, which I’ve noticed the last few mornings as well. It’s always so striking how the creatures around us are indifferent to the human crises unfolding. I think of it most often during power outages, but obviously now as well.

    1. When I stepped outside this morning, I noticed that the kestrel was back for the season, skimming over the wet covering of new snow, looking for rodents. It made me feel about as hopeful as anything has in the last three weeks.

  10. Thanks for continuing to write here.I enjoy the vision your words create for me.It is good to have a bit of normalcy while reading your words.

  11. So glad to be back reading Ben Hewitt, you sure do write some great shit. Hope the school closings will create a bunch of Finns and Ryes….

  12. Lots of shit is ‘waiting to fall’ apart if you ask me….it’s like tender meat on the bone, falling the hell off!

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