This pandemic hiatus is like waking from a particularly nasty nightmare into (always slippery) reality. As with other functional introverts, for me emergence is a perplexing adjustment. Has it been the way you thought it would be, or are you as confused as I am about who we’ve become and what we’re emerging into?

Broken Top

Last weekend I hiked a trail at 7,600 feet near Broken Top, the sky clear blue overhead despite the pyrocumulus cloud rising from wildfire on the not-so-distant horizon, a reminder that this paradise, too, is provisional. Today in my garden each blooming lavender plant is a humming, waist-high galaxy of bees. I walk among them, in awe of these pollinators who carry our lives on their bodies, and they ignore me. The pandemic has brought home to me the absolute physicality of our connection to every life form on Earth, this truism now lodged beneath my skin. No ideology or religion can diminish our collective vulnerability and our individual responsibility.

I’ve occupied hundreds of pandemic seclusion hours writing and re-writing the sequel to Nowever, my 2019 novel, nominally YA, but for all ages. (Remember 2019 when we still did in-person readings and book-signings? We will do it again.) Here’ a preliminary sketch of the five strangely gifted friends (including the cats) you’ll meet in Cold Mirage in the coming year.

Meanwhile, please honor your pace of post-pandemic emergence, as well as that of others. We aren’t going back to “normal” as we’ve known it.