Life and Mountain Laurel in West Virginia

Whew. It’s been a long-ass six (or seven?) months since my last post. Not like a whole second global pandemic long, but not too far off the mark.

For the last – gosh, I want to say, for 10(!?) months — my lovable and wonderful non-husband, XFE has been dealing with aging family members’ health issues. Since August of last year, XFE would go out to his parents’ house in North Las Vegas and stay for a few weeks, or even a month to help out, while trying to work remotely at the same time. And then when he was here at home, he would try to work at his high-pressure, stressful job while dealing with his parents’ health issues remotely.

It all felt like failure, all the way around and we knew it would not be sustainable at some point.

Over the past two months, his dad’s health issues and the associated responsibilities have ramped up to the point where XFE has had to take a leave of absence from work and move out to North Las Vegas to help care for his dad. We went out in mid-May and XFE stayed behind while I came home.

So, I’m spending the next three months without my own caretaker, my partner, my support system, my best friend/co-cat parent/personal chef/comic relief/entertainment coordinator/activity planner/handyman/chauffeur/remote-control pilot/accountant/weekly shopper/emotional sounding board/gut checker/work advisor/ride-or-die/partner in crime and all-around motivator.

Basically, I am having to go without my everything and all the things.

I feel entirely unmoored while having to pretend that everything is fine. Just fine. Because there’s someone close to us right now who really needs him more than I do. And I’m an independent and self-sufficient adult (allegedly).

As we were preparing for this time apart, we talked about all the things XFE was going to miss while he was away. One of those things is mountain laurel season at the cabin here in West Virginia.

It is truly a gorgeous time of year out here in Lost River. The mornings are still pretty cool (in the 40s) but it warms up to the high 70s by mid-day and it’s just a pleasant, comfortable time to be here.

The trees are all filled in, creating this little green oasis that feels so private and removed from the rest of the world.

There’s also the sound of constantly rustling leaves as deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and who knows what else move through the underbrush completely invisible to the human eye. You hear a rustle and turn your head but can’t see anything. Then you wonder if you really heard anything at all but now you hear another noise and it’s from a different part of the forest, so maybe that’s what you heard the previous time? Who can tell?

The early birds are nesting and having baby birds. We’ve already had round one on one of our drain spouts. Miss Bird was still nesting some eggs when we left. There were at least three little fuzzy-headed baby birds by the time I got back out here. I accidentally scared them all out of the nest the other day after returning from the grocery store. I hope they’re all ok.

More and more mountain laurel are popping every day, going from tight pink buds to fluffy white blooms. The air smells just gorgeous and spring-like, especially as the day warms up. Bees and butterflies are flying around them lazily.

There’s a little bee friend on the middle left.

We’ve got a lot of the mountain laurel on the hill behind the cabin and last year, XFE and I sat on the back porch in the evenings with a cocktail or some wine just listening to the bees and the breeze, taking tons of pictures of the flowers.

This year is very different and I’m sad that he’s missing it. I know there are bigger things to be sad about – in particular, his dad’s health and what’s going to happen next – but I am sad. I just am.

Anyway, XFE has asked me to use this time to get back to blogging, so here I am. I don’t think this is what he had in mind, but it’s at least a new start. Like a mountain laurel bush in the spring.

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