Notes from Maine – 2

I’m finding it very difficult to get back to my normal schedule. It should be easy. Before, all I ever did was sit at home at write books. There’s nothing stopping me from doing that right now. I’m supposed to stay at home—check, I’m not supposed to interact with other people—check, what’s the problem? I’ve lived by those rules for years and years.

By the way, if one more ladybug lands in my coffee, I’m going to burn this house to the ground. I don’t mind a bug or two, but ladybugs emit some kind of rancid chemical when they fall into hot liquid. It’s undrinkable, and I don’t have that much coffee to spare. We got about eight inches of snow the other night (Happy Spring!), so I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that the ladybugs should go back to where they normally hibernate and they should pack it in for at least another month.

Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to work on a book right now anyway. It seems I’m having trouble sticking to one topic. There was something I wanted to tell you though. What was it?

I know—I wanted to tell you that I figured it out. 

“Figured out what?” you might be wondering.

The sound from my basement. I mentioned it last time. I thought I heard the sound of someone walking through my living room, but it almost sounded like the noise was coming from the underside of the floor. It’s a simple explanation. Lately, I’ve been trying to shore up the kitchen floor in this old farmhouse. The kitchen is from 1820, and the wide pine planks are not suitable for the tile I want to put down. Installing new posts in the basement has firmed up the bounce, but it also transferred a bunch of that movement back into the beams. The living room floor is now the only thing that can flex, so it does. Finn’s big and I’m big, and when we walk through the kitchen together, the living room floor creaks.

There’s a new mystery though, and I’m not the one who is hearing it. The last couple of nights, just after sunset, Finn has started barking at the door to the driveway. He doesn’t bark all that much normally. Whatever he heard got him really worked up. The hair was standing up all down his back and he was growling low in his throat in between barks. It was pretty creepy. I turned on the outside light the first time and didn’t see anything out there. The second time, I actually let him out to see if he would give me a clearer idea of what he was barking at.

I had to go out the other day to get feed for the horse, so I stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Have you been lately? It was mostly back to normal. Produce has been restocked and I saw a few canned vegetables too. Still no flour. People better start putting thousands bread pictures on social media soon, or I want detailed explanation of what they’re doing with all that flour. Also, there was a bunch of unsalted butter, but not one single stick of salted butter. Is the salt in butter a magic cure that we should all know about? 

I hope everyone is doing well out there. I got a bunch of kind messages on Saturday and I hope you are taking care of yourselves and your families. It’s a strange mixture of feelings—like I should be doing something, but there’s nothing that can be done. My father is in the hospital right now. He’s not sick with COVID or anything, his hip just picked a lousy time to give out on him. After a couple of falls and no strength left in his leg, he decided he had to go in. My brother lives right next to him, so he drove him. We’re not allowed to visit. He’s in the right place if something happens I guess, but obviously it’s a high-risk place to be. 

Forgive me for jumping around, but I can’t stop thinking about that sound from the cellar. One time my friend and I came here for lunch when we used to work together. We both saw her—a woman standing on the staircase. I stopped and pointed.

“Did you see that?” 

“The lady? Wearing a dress?” he asked. The way he said it, like he wasn’t surprised at all, put me at ease a little but it also convinced me that we had seen the same thing. She had just been there for a split second, like a mirage from a flash of sunlight. I ended up writing about her in MIGRATORS.

“Couldn’t have been anything,” I said. “The dogs would have barked.” 

I had two big dogs at the time and they weren’t shy about barking.

“Maybe they see her all the time,” he said. 

That idea ran a chill down my back. That was the last odd thing that happened in this house as far as I know, and it was more than fifteen years ago. I mean, it was the last odd thing until just recently and the noises from the cellar. I can’t help thinking they’re connected.

Please stay safe and healthy.

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