THAT NOVEMBER, long after the killing frost, a yellowjacket stung me while I was cutting firewood. Next day, at the spring, I found a ripe blackberry, and red ones still ripening, months later than blackberries could ever be picked in Virginia. In early December I was standing in the garden amid dry cornstalks, dill heads, and the dead tomato plants still hung up in their cages, when a blue-green dragonfly cruised by at an altitude of about eight feet, serene as midsummer.
All the while, I tended Jamie as she continued to recuperate. I became expert at convincing TV producers and would-be publishers it was pointless to call, she would never consent to tell the story of her journey in the whale, except as I’ve related it here. They could believe it, or not. They would have to deal with how she was seen swimming away from the beach at Haifa when she went under, and the next week washed up at Hatteras, asking for a phone. The message she carried from Gaza, her detailed accounts of the miracle at Alexandria, and the end of the war, and the beginning of peace, these were all that mattered, she said.
The way things had turned out, I could easily forgive her taking the CNN assignment, even though she’d kept it from me she was on the trail of the network news-fixing scandal. She knew they might never let her come home. Just as well I never knew.
Almost every day during that December, I was able to bring her another piece of news that seemed somehow to have grown from her journey and its revelations. The spontaneous healing of the ozone layer was the biggest of these, of course, until the morning of the 21st. That day, around the world, people woke to find their village, town, or city had regrown around them while they slept. Buildings were no longer manmade, but organic structures of translucent shimmering minerals, as it seemed a new kind of partnership between humankind and the elements had begun.
On New Year’s Eve, she was able to walk outside for the first time. We held hands and watched the aurora borealis display that visited every continent that night and remained visible even in daylight.
After that, we still slept, because we had to, but always at the risk of missing something wonderful.