Guest Columnist

A long, difficult November passes

Guest Column | Kurt Ullrich

Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.

The other night I was standing at my kitchen sink, washing dishes, water running, small radio tuned to a news channel. As I washed and listened, I heard that Republicans were concerned about the vote of Ida Lupino, an actress who died a quarter of a century ago. I turned the water off. This promised to be great, a whopper of a conspiracy theory from some wing nut.

Then I laughed, turned the water back on, and finished the dishes, knowing that I’m the wing nut, and believing that being a bit hard of hearing is truly delightful. Turns out the Republicans weren’t concerned about Ms. Lupino but were instead concerned about the “Latino” vote. Sometimes reality is just beyond my grasp.

American bald eagles have been floating over newly cut cornfields out here, rising and falling with little effort, letting slight thermals guide their movements until a mouse or vole scampers across the field. Later they will visit a river near here, a river that is much cleaner than it used to be so the eagles can actually see fish under the water. I hope they don’t find the adorable little frog hanging out in the stream in my hollow. Totally adorable, dark green skin, eyes like black marbles, watching me, waiting for me to move on.

I need to get to a grocery store soon. Oyster crackers in my pantry are again beginning to look like food. Unfortunately, the grocery stores closest to me do not require masks and, unsurprisingly, half the customers don’t wear them. I don’t know how to address that population. And out here nobody delivers; consequently, after nine months I still don’t know how to handle the grocery situation.

The years continue to run, mostly unnoticed but November has long been a difficult month for me. Just ahead of Thanksgiving 30 years ago on a cool November day my mother died a painful death in a hospital near here, her body gasping for breath, much like COVID-19 victims I suppose. I adored her, still do, and I closed her eyes as she passed. It’s a memory I wish I didn’t have, but at least I was able to be with her, unlike hundreds of thousands of family members who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 thus far.

So on and on we go. Life gets busy, memories fade and we wait with great expectations for what we perceive to be the next big thing. My little cat Luna spends parts of every day sitting on window ledges, a feline version of me, content to watch deer and turkey walk past the window, beautiful creatures that make no demands of us, and that’s as big as it needs to be, for her and me.

Allow me to close by saying that I hope your Thanksgiving was brilliant. I microwave a mean turkey potpie and it’s usually followed up with a glass or two of Irish whiskey, listening to a jazz station out of London before returning to the night. Doesn’t get any better than that. Be safe.

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Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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