As far as art-related content goes, I haven't been able to work on the comic in the last month, but this is where I paused last. Things are still extremely busy with my job and the mornings, evenings, and weekends have become precious time to be away from a desk and keep myself centered, which means less energy for drawing.
But that has been good in some ways. A couple weeks ago, Chris and I went out rollerblading on the rail trail across the street. I was in a grumpy mood that Saturday because I just couldn't summon the energy to draw or write, or really do anything but sulk after a long week. Chris kept trying to get me to go out for a walk saying that it would make me feel better, and I wasn't having it. But the next day I woke up determined to have a more productive day, so I got up early, did some cleaning, and opened the windows to flood the apartment with spring air.
I was just sitting down in my armchair to try and figure out if I had the brain power to work on the comic after a full day of rest, when Chris popped in and again asked if I wanted to go out for a walk. At first I said no and he encouraged me to go ahead and work since it looked like I had just gotten in the zone. But then I called him back to suggest we go rollerblading, and maybe that would give me some time to think about what I wanted to work on.
I thought it was a little peculiar because Chris decided to bring a backpack, and the rail trail is only 2 miles long. I teased him a bit but when he suggested that we could walk to the start of the trail in our shoes and then change them out, rather than stumble our way across the road on rollerblades, I eased up.
It was a great day to be outside. Sunshine, fluffy clouds, buds on the trees, wild flowers everywhere. We took a couple breaks here and there, and at one point ran into a mother and her daughter coming back from a hike; the girl was clearly distraught and apparently an unexpected snake sighting brought their romp to a rapid and tearful close. The girl cautioned us to not venture near the apparently terrifying snake, as we sat lazily in our rollerblades by the paved rail trail.
Chris was making noises about going to a meadow across the street from the other end of the trail, which we had explored a few weeks earlier on foot. At the time, we had walked all the way there on a fairly warm day and collapsed in the meadow to drink some ice water from a thermos and stare up at the clouds. The clearing is more like a grassy path that stretches on in a straight line until it meets a slight incline and decline and drops out of sight. It follows the straight path of the now disassembled railroad, which supposedly bore WWII soldiers off to war. The town likely tends to it a few times a year to keep on top of any overgrowth from the woods on either side.
When we got to the end of the rail trail, I suggested we just plop down in the grass next to a parking lot without crossing over to the meadow, because the municipal airport was nearby and we might be able to watch a plane or two take off. But upon seeing that there wasn't really a comfortable spot and there were a fair number of people in the lot either coming or going, we decided to cross and take another break in the clearing.
Once we got to the other side, Chris spotted a wild turkey off in the distance, and for some reason I was compelled to walk towards it – or rather, waddle towards it, which is what one does when traveling across grass while still wearing rollerblades. We waddled for a minute or two with me leading the way, and then the turkey itself waddled away into the swampy forest and out of sight. We kept trudging forward without much of a goal in mind aside from seeing if perhaps there was a turkey feather remaining to collect and bring home. But at a certain point I got a little tired and stopped to look back at how far we had gone. It was quiet and sunny and very peaceful.
Chris had been following a little ways behind me with his backpack still on. He took a couple steps closer, and before I knew it he had said, "So I've been meaning to ask you... will you marry me?" and held up a gray box before me with a ring. The true purpose of the backpack at last revealed :)
It's been a wild year, especially with Chris getting (what we presume was) covid, battling with it on and off for over a year, moving to a new place, dealing with scleroderma, caring for our guinea pig throughout multiple medical emergencies, and all of the stress that has come from work and the unending pandemic over the last year. Chris said that our partnership during the most critical parts of his illness was really what did it for him, and it just wasn't until this spring that everything fell into place to propose.
To add to my amazement, Chris worked with a friend and former coworker of mine named Jamie Whelan, owner of Dogwood Jewelers. Jamie is extremely talented as you can see in this detail shot (provided by her), and in fact in collaboration with Chris, she designed the ring to complement my grandmother's sapphire and diamond ring, which I've worn without removing it since the day before she died. My grandfather had given it to her many years ago, and it has our shared birthstone (I was born on her birthday). The symmetry of these two rings, one tying me to my roots, and one tying Chris and I closer together for our future, is pretty much the most romantic thing I could ever imagine. I don't know that I've stopped smiling since it happened.
There have been some other things going on at the same time: Chris and I both got our first vaccine shots and we should both be fully vaccinated by mid-June. Chris's older brother is expecting his first child next month and my older brother is expecting his second in September (another sapphire birthday). Work has meant 10-hour days most of the time for me, and Chris has spent a lot of time commuting to and from the Cape for his work. Our guinea pig Ivy was diagnosed with a malignant tumor that we've yet to decide how to respond to, pending some additional test results. As with most of the last year, it's been a mixed bag. But wanted to use this post to share the good for now.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based in Mansfield, MA.