Wanting nothing

When the furnace failed in the middle of a very cold winter, I built a fire in the fireplace, cooked a chicken in the oven, left the oven door open once it was cooked, ran a hot bath and steeped in it until the sweat ran down my face, then climbed beneath several blankets to sleep. I left the water running so the pipes wouldn’t freeze and went for a long walk in the metropark across from my home the following day, kept my parka on when I returned, ate leftover chicken for dinner, took another hot bath and slept soundly for the second night. I built another fire and tended it the following day, took a walk, ate the rest of the chicken, took another bath, and went to sleep.  The following Monday, I called the repairman.

“Why did you wait so long to call me?” he asked.

“It failed while I was at work on Friday. By the time I got home it was 8 p.m. I couldn’t spoil your weekend.”

“It’s just me,” I  added.

“Don’t wait, again,” he said. His face betrayed his kindness.

I lived in that house for 10 years. It was my sanctuary.

As the furnace aged, so did I. I worried about the cost to replace it, and how I’d manage when it did.

It all worked out. When my came home from school, her happiness to be home reassured me keeping the home fires burning meant something to her, as well as to me.

I watched the northern lights from my front porch, watched deer chase each other from my kitchen window, and was greeted by snow-covered fawns peering through my bedroom window on snowy winter mornings. It was home.

Someone else lives there, now.

This wasn’t meant to be an elegy, but perhaps it is. I’m sure a family of geese still nests near the pond, the pink and white waterlilies still bloom, the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, waxwings and sparrows still visit.







About Jane Wilson

Jane Wilson graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, was a trial attorney for 25 years and has served on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy on numerous occasions. She was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Cleveland State University for several years and served as an Interim Associate Professor of Law in the clinical program at Case Law School. In 2009, she returned to the small southwestern Michigan community where she was raised, and wrote a novel.
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7 Responses to Wanting nothing

  1. evanatiello says:

    I very much identified with the “waiting until Monday” to make the call to the repairman. It’s partly a personal challenge. Partly the after-hours rate that they will surely charge. Partly the naivete to think maybe the furnace will straighten itself out by Monday! I still remember the story you wrote years ago about taking care of newborn chickadees. I loved that story. And the photos. Was that on Redroom, maybe? I wish I could go back and read that again.

  2. Jane Wilson says:

    I didn’t write about taking care of newborn chickadees, but, like you, I wish I could read that.

    • evanatiello says:

      What?! Ok, I may be officially losing my mind, but, didn’t you return to your hometown after being away for a while, and an old friend who kept small farm animals (am I making this up?) was going to be away and asked if you would keep watch over the newborn chicks? ducks? pigs? No. They were chicks! Right?

  3. Was that the same place with the ice on the walls? I love your sense of place. It surpasses memory, inviting us into an intimate intersection between who you were and who you are.

  4. Jane Wilson says:

    It was not. It was a beautiful home, on 2 1/2 acres, across from a metro park. I was forced to sell after I lost my job, and was concerned I couldn’t afford to maintain it.

  5. sammee44 says:

    Home is wherever your heart and spirit is–that’s the essence of your home. And, family will always congregate wherever you are. As for the repairman, I know exactly where you’re at—especially on a weekend. For us, it was a long holiday weekend.. . .

    • Jane Wilson says:

      The repairman would have come if I’d called, but I didn’t want to ruin his weekend. I was fortunate to have a fireplace. For the first three months we had no stove. For two years we had no washer or dryer and I slept on the floor. Kea went to boarding school years later, and still thanks me for the opportunity.

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