The butternut chronicle: Nov. 3, 1998

Thirty-four degrees at dawn, with small flakes of snow falling into my coffee. Everything’s quiet except for a small flock of chickadees, irrepressible as ever.

The biggest change is that my beautiful aspens have all been stripped bare. I feel bereft.

The birches and cherry trees that still held onto their leaves yesterday have been similarly stripped, but all the others – willow, elms, lilac, oaks – seem unchanged.

Still snowing at 8:00: the same small, widely scattered flakes. And there’s still nothing stirring, aside from the chickadees. With the benefit of full daylight, I realize that the view through the trees up to the top of the ridge is much clearer this morning; more oaks have lost their leaves overnight than I had initially thought.

Thus, in the space of 24 hours, my horizon has been drastically expanded. Though given a choice, I think I’d prefer the sheltering closeness of the dense forest all year ’round, much as I love winter. Maybe I should move some place farther north, with lots of evergreens?

The clouds are thinning; blue patches appear here and there. I can hear a nuthatch yank yanking. But this stiff breeze and my general lack of toughness make it hard for me to stay out on the porch for long. The woodstove beckons.

Two hours later, snowflakes are still in the air, swirling down from fast-moving clouds. The sun shines full in my face for 30 seconds. Sun and snow alternate for the next ten minutes, until the snow finally peters out. Pacing up and down to stay warm, I watch the cloud shadows racing by. On this high porch lined with railings on two sides, I feel a bit like the captain of a slow-moving ship.

At half past noon I’m ambushed by a flurry of sneezes. For the rest of the day, I can’t go for five minutes without blowing my nose. Now I know why I felt so vulnerable to the cold this morning. The virus was already busy trying to control my thoughts: Go inside, where it’s warm, where the germ can spread!

There are analogies and then there are analogies. To say that governments and corporations are like viruses infecting the body politic is to gain a real insight into the way so-called evil replicates itself in this world.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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