Trapped in a Tropical Paradise - Part 5

By Eleanor Motley Richardson | Jul 09, 2020

A gaggle of prosperous middle-aged women passed the time in expensive chairs on the beach, while I sunned on a towel nearby. My curiosity was aroused when one of them said, "I've tried everything for stress – alcohol, valium, massage – but I finally found the solution." Her companions and I held our collective breath: "A Good Novel."

I smiled then, but still remember her advice 20 years later. Often when we go back to Maine in the spring, we get a lot of cold rain. It pours off the gutters on the barn, and there is a musty smell in the downstairs closet. One year we had 23 days of rain in May, 17 of them consecutive. Remembering the woman on the beach, I went searching for a good English novel. Rain is very much a part of English life, while American novels usually take place in warm sunshine. It's comforting to visit the world of Agatha Christie or Virginia Woolf, where rain is normal.

On the recommendation of a friend, I ordered Outlander by Diana Gabaldon on my Kindle to help me through COVID-19. I understand some people have been watching the TV series. It's had the intended salutary effect, and I have been reading avidly for several weeks. But my Kindle tells me I'm only 33% through. This book must have a million pages. It's great fun shuttling back and forth between the 18th and 20th centuries. And there's plenty of cold rain in the Scottish highlands.

When I look up from the book, I'm surprised to see waving palm trees outside my closed, air-conditioned windows and landscapers hastening down our street toward Port Royal, the high rent district. Outside it is 95 degrees and the ocean is 92 degrees. A good book will take you to an entirely different place in your mind.

It's almost impossible to live in the moment. When my children were small I'd look at their glossy heads and say, "Remember this, be here, speak your love, for this time will pass all too quickly." But soon my mind would be off in the future, what to cook for dinner, or the past, remembering my grandmother giving me the lovely piece of furniture in a corner of my living room. Now those children are 48 and 53.

You can focus on quarantine or isolation. But it's hard to feel trapped for very long. Soon the mind flies off to other places and times. Yesterday, my husband was brewing French Roast which smelled delicious and I was doing a crossword. Number 34 Down was "donut," and I was at Willow Kitchen on Route One, really seriously there. We used to stop on the way home from scary doctor's appointments to cheer ourselves up with coffee and an old fashioned molasses donut.

We are with you in Rockland more often than you know.

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