It started with the rock. Actually, it started for me with the rock. For you, the story would start elsewhere, I’m sure. I came across the rock, now your rock, in the backyard shortly after my husband and I moved into the house. I was struck by the granite’s natural beauty, its graceful belt of pale stripes. I moved the rock from its cradle of broken bricks and overgrown grass to a spot on the corner of the deck. There I could see it from the window in the kitchen door, and from there I would soon see you, too.
At first, the novelty of seeing you drew me to the window. Then I began to meditate on our similarities, not the fact that I’m a small mammal, too—not chipmunk-small, but human-small—or that I’m omnivorous. Instead, my thoughts turned to how we are both solitary creatures who construct intricate tunnels.
Back in mid-March when the civilized world was forced to shelter in place, I developed a heightened awareness of my tendency to burrow, as well as my need to emerge. Teaching from my burrow, rather than in the classroom, confined me to a solitary labyrinth that I tunneled through by writing. The writing—the blog posts that I composed for my students and the comments that I posted for them— distracted me from the uncertainty that came with COVID-19. Writing had a calming effect. Yet at the same time, all that tunneling within a tunnel meant too much solitude.
Moving to a new burrow and returning to the classroom—the actual, not the virtual, classroom—has roused me. But I am not up to speed. The back-to-back trials of navigating remote instruction and packing my life into boxes led to a state akin to your annual torpor. I am still crawling out, even as the tunneling act of writing continues to help me make sense of it.
Now, as I continue to forage for the right words, I pause in my writing and picture you back on your perch, contemplating life. The stripes in the granite reflect the ones that border your curved back.
I don’t know whether you visited the rock before I moved it, or whether you simply like the corner where you found it. I only know that seeing you stake your claim has brightened the quiet moments when this human has watched you from the window.
Thank you for welcoming me home.
8 thoughts on “Burrowed Time”
what a sweet piece. Reminds me of a couple chipmunks who visit my deck for little treats. Big squirrel goes for bread hunks, actually will most eat anything. Life in the land of the virus.
Thanks, Lenore. I glad to read that you, too, share your backyard with chipmunks!
Thank you, Josh. Your blog is now linked to the class page.
Thank you, Miayah. Your blog is now linked to the class page.
Mamadou, I have linked your blog to the class page, but it appears that you haven’t launched it yet.