1996: Kathleen gets her learner’s license. I pay someone to plant daffodils in the yard–yes, pay. I have free time again–seven days this year, six in February and one in May. And I write on our new computer. I start a story about a woman who wants time to herself, and then I make reservations for three nights at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. It’s my first spa trip, and tears roll down my cheeks–all these people taking care of me. Back at home, I start going through a box of my grandmother’s recipes. She made the best pimento cheese. I decide I will put together a cookbook. One Sunday, the boys are in and out of the garage all morning. Around two, with Cal on the golf course, I get the two trash cans ready for Bobby and Jack to take up to the street. When I pull them out, behind one is a gigantic, curled-up snake. I freeze. I’ve never seen a snake before except behind glass. Usually I’m good in a crisis, but I’m stumped. 911? The screen door opens, and I scream at whoever it is to stay in the house. I’m still in the garage because I want to know where the snake is at all times. Bobby slips me the phone, and on the third call, I find a neighbor at home, and he (I hate that I have to call a man for help) comes with a gun and his wife–each with an opposing function. The wife cannot save this snake–it’s a six-foot water moccasin. (Our back yard goes down to a creek.) The neighbor shoots the snake–a lot of firsts for me–and a few days later, I take him a case of beer. The Summer Olympics take place in Atlanta, and we go to handball. Softball is actually here in Columbus, and we go to one of those games too. In August Charles and Diana are officially divorced. At my father’s urging, I start doing strength training. In October I go back to Canyon Ranch to do a hiking week. Cal picks me up, and we drive to Vermont to wonder at the fall leaves, taking a side trip to visit my old French camp on Lake Champlain, which is now a state park. Enya sings Anywhere Is… Kathleen illustrates Lilli’s Cookbook, and I have it printed as a surprise for everyone at Christmas.

21 days to 60


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver