He lay on his back on the sofa like he always did, looking out the window. Birds flocked around the orange berries, limbs flopped over, leaning down. A hearty rain. The grass needing cut. With the pandemic they had gone from a place of shock to a long period of hope followed by what now seemed like a new way of life. And there was an odd detachment in that, a deep sorrow. To recognize he had so little control over things, to resign himself to that.
He had to go outside for a change of pace. He put on his work gloves and got the box for the firewood. The birds were going bananas over the Oregon grapes, the orange berries on the laurel, even burrowing their beaks into the echinacea long past its bloom.
He swung the ax and split the logs, smiled at his wife through the window. The rain made a drumming sound against the gutters, a pleasant hiss on the lawn. Everything was greening up again and the leaves on the maple turning yellow. He had gotten a pitchfork to turn the compost and sometimes did that just for something to do. Looking into that rich soil reminded him of the fact that things break down but become something new. That was the brand of hope he subscribed to, it’s what he saw in the birds pecking at dead things to wrest out seeds and start new growth somewhere else. You couldn’t go on dwelling on things. We were all going to the same place and might as well enjoy our time here while we could. Global pandemics be damned. Congress too.
He put the ax back by the tree and dropped the wood by the stove. They’d have a good fire tonight. And tomorrow was Friday. A new month even. Nothing would change much but you could fool yourself into thinking it would. Maybe that was the new form of optimism, the new hope.
He went back to the sofa and his book.