fermata: where we hold and rest

It’s not for lack of material that I haven’t been writing here. In one afternoon, an entire jar of pickles shattered on the dining room floor, a shower was out of commission with a clogged drain, and I broke four dishes simultaneously during a skirmish in my ongoing war against fruit flies. Boom. Go big or go home.

It’s days like this that drain us, though, and for the last few weeks I’ve sat at the computer almost every night, but nothing came out right — too dry and stale, too flat and foggy. The hurricane is exhausting.

fermata: where we hold and rest (Copperlight Wood)

So my steady routine of night owl productivity is on hold until our little bed-buddy is a steadier sleeper. He stays a few hours in his crib and then wakes up needing to nurse and moves in with us. A queen size bed easily fits two adults and a cat or two, but the addition of an 8-week-old’s wingspan can also be accommodated as long as one parent doesn’t mind sleeping with part of their body hanging off the edge of the mattress.


I really don’t mind. These are the tiny days, when a clean dishtowel serves as a blanket. But the house feels small, too, and the view from the couch rarely changes.

…to get away from the disturbances and influence of men, planned or unplanned, and to find a place where one is open to influence only from the sky, the wind, the clouds coming up from the valley or closing in from the mountain peaks, the sparkle of snow in the sun, the marvel of light filtering through trees, or the sound of a waterfall splashing on rocks, or birds singing before sunrise, or the crickets’ special song at twilight – this is to give one the possibility for some original thinking, for getting a few fresh ideas, for feeling inspired to some form of creativity.

– Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

We went where we always go. I never get tired of this place.



There were paragliders. I had to look that up because I didn’t know the difference between hang gliding and parasailing – one is a motorized contraption, the other involves being towed by a boat tauntingly out of shark’s reach; neither are what we saw at Hatcher Pass.



But I didn’t know that then. They reminded me of something else, something familiar that I hadn’t seen in a long while.


They are fermatas, Love, He said.

A fermata is the symbol in music that tells you to hold, to pause. He knew I wouldn’t have to look that up.

This is the time to rest and linger – don’t rush through these days, looking more at your to-do list than you look at your kids’ eyes.




These tiny days, taking turns holding Finnegan, taking turns cleaning messes, taking turns making meals. The days are fast and slow, intermittent lulls in a windstorm, and we are depending on each other to keep the storm outside – we have to constantly push it back out after it wheedles its way in, via bickering, misbehavior, old wounds, fresh grievances. We sweep out bitterness as persistently and repeatedly as we do to dirt and leaves in the fall, a continual process of keeping hearts and house clean. The storm is kept out only with extreme diligence.

I shall always be grateful to that storm in Cornwall that drove us inward on ourselves. The quality of light being almost the same at ten in the morning as it was at ten at night, we lost all count of time. The soporific swaying of the wagon, the utter stillness of the moor broken intermittently by sounds of wind and rain, the glimpses of a shifting, shadowed landscape gave us the feeling of having embarked upon a long voyage.

– Joan Bodger, How the Heather Looks

I’ve been thinking on this for weeks as I sit in dullness, trying to produce something here that just wouldn’t come. It won’t be pushed, no matter how behind I feel.

We need productive time away. We need productive time together. We need time to not produce anything at all – this may be the most productive time of all, giving us the perspective and simplicity we need to handle the chaos as it comes.

I asked Vince about it. “Do you know what a fermata is?”

“No. Is it Greek pastry? Mediterranean pasta?” These are the answers he gives while cooking dinner.

“No, it’s a pause in music.”  But it’s more. This is the place to hold, Love – and you need to hold for longer than you normally would. The song will pick up again soon enough.

It is a restless baby, squirming and overtired, who finally lays his head on your shoulder. It is a restless mama, overtired and fussy, letting go of the dishes and deadlines, just to listen to her Father.

He rests, I rest. This is the place to hold and linger.



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