Much of what we do is meaningless time-filler. When that has been torn away, where are you left?
|Unfinished last painting.|
We have certainly run into a pathogen, although I doubt it’s COVID-19. I’m secretly relieved that it ran through me before we start our engines and make a course for Rio Gallegos in the morning. Woe to them who are in its throes en route.
Yesterday, Cristina informed me that I was confined to my room until I was six hours without a fever. This wasn’t her edict; it was that of the village doctor. I could go outside for fresh air, but not into any common areas. My mind turned inevitably to a comment Jane Chapin made to me earlier this week about the shrinking nature of our confinement. I really should be ashamed of myself.
The Diary of Anne Frank was required reading in my youth. She and her family lived for two years in their cramped attic, and their release was immeasurably worse. My room is perfectly lovely, and I’d managed to snaffle The Spectator on my phone before Cristina noticed me.
|Bushwhacking with Jane Chapin. The undergrowth is thick in the valleys.|
I went outdoors and sat on a bench in the sun. Eventually, Jane found me, and we went bushwhacking. Mercifully, we have only a few hundred acres to roam in, or we might have managed to get lost. We tromped around in the undergrowth until we found a small stream with a view.
We set up to paint. My gut had been acting perfectly foul all morning, and it was there that the floodgates opened. I am missing part of my colon—that critical part that tells the average person that the @#$! Is about to hit the fan. I wandered off into the brush and cleaned up as well as I could, then returned and folded up my paint kit. It was a beautiful day; so what if I was covered in merde? I lay on my back in the warm sunlight, chatting with Jane as she painted.
|Lying on my back in the sun, talking to Jane while she painted.|
I’ve had less effective colonoscopy preps.
As I write this, Jane is checking us into our flight from Rio Gallegos tomorrow. We will leave here at 4 AM, driving hours in the dark, keeping a close watch for the guanaco, vicuña, or huemules who might like to ornament our cars’ front grilles. Ours is the last flight from Rio Gallegos to Buenos Aires and we do not—as of yet—have a plan to get from Buenos Aires to America. But I trust in my God as my protector. He hasn’t let me down yet.
|Iron-ore laden creek.|
Meanwhile, the mountains are shrouded in fog today, as if they are sad that we are leaving. Every morning of this trip, Natalia Andreeva has sat by the window and watched the pink light flicker up onto Glaciar Electrico. “Beautiful!” she breathes. Stripped of all the impositions of our world—of socializing, parenting, working—she remained centered on this one joy of all creation.
|Reader Robin M. asked me how we move our wet paintings. The wettest go into these PanelPak carriers.|
The Age of Coronavirus has been one of great costs. There is opportunity here, as well. Much of what we do is meaningless time-filler. Some of it is downright corrosive. When all that is torn away, what are you left with? Do you like yourself well enough to be content in your own company? Can you organize your day, your week, your life, without someone else telling you what to do? If not, think of this as a wakeup call. Nobody owns your happiness but you.
|Those that are drier are interleaved with waxed paper that I cut to size before leaving home. I then make a bundle of them, reusing the stretch film I brought. You can also use plastic bumpers or slivers of wine cork to separate the paintings.|
This is my last post before we hare out of here. We leave tomorrow at 4 AM. I may be writing from Rio Gallegos, or it may be a week before I find a wi-fi signal I can poach. Until then, take care and remember to wash your hands.