Possumhaw: Keeping it simple



Shannon Bardwell



"If you're about to succumb to the latest ad about why your life will be easier as soon as you buy a fry-o-matic, think twice about your hard-earned money going out the door."


­­-- Janet Luhre, author


of "Simple Living Guide"




The sun is peaking in and out from behind the clouds. It's a lovely day, though a wee bit chilly. The roses are putting on a spectacular show. It must be the abundance of rain because I do nothing to encourage them. A red rose together with a purple clematis are in a vase on the breakfast table. We've been "sheltering in place" for six and a half weeks now. Most of my work can be done from home, and the rest is mostly undone. A good bit of time is spent looking out windows at the roses, the birds, three turkeys, a turtle swimming, cats running up trees. I transferred my phone calendar to an old-fashioned paper calendar and realized how pre-corona everyday was scheduled to the hour. And now, there is no schedule. I still make a list of "to-dos" to keep myself on task, but otherwise the day is unstructured. Maybe a bit unnerving at first, but in time I glided into unstructured easily. I still don't know where the time goes. It seems I barely start the day and then it's nightfall. A fair amount of time is spent sending and receiving messages. Hopefully encouraging messages to friends and family. What a great century for such a time as this. Were it decades earlier, my mother would holler, "Don't stay on the phone long. It's long distance."


Sitting in front of my finely-curated clothes closet, I realize I have nowhere to go and haven't for weeks. I still enjoy the order of it -- coordinated by item, color, season and occasion. The floor is perfectly bare for easy cleaning. I still dress every day, as suggested by Jennifer L. Scott, a blogger/author. She recommends, "Always look presentable." Whereas a friend says she enjoys going to online church in her pajamas.


I'm re-reading my favorite books since the public library is closed. I prefer books I can hold in my hand over e-books. Currently it's Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Moving On." A sequel to "Simple Abundance." The chapter on "Women and their Kitchens" is partly about cleaning out the spice rack, cabinet, drawer, whatever you have. In my kitchen, in the very back of a deep cabinet, is a plastic container filled with spices I call "things I will never use."


Though I've decluttered just about everything else, I never thought about spices. Probably because they are in the back of that deep dark cabinet and I don't use them but save them. Here's what I found: cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, celery salt, cumin, red pepper, coriander, dry mustard, dill weed, poppy seeds, poultry seasoning, pure sherry extract, orange extract, pumpkin pie spice, one cat treat, one dog treat, red food coloring, sea salt grinder, marjoram leaves, nutmeg, vanilla extract and musical birthday candles that didn't work. Out with the old, in with the new -- salt (just a little), pepper and the original Mrs. Dash.


Sarah said, "This seemingly pointless exercise provides immediate gratification." It did.




Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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