No Little Time

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One morning this week, I was reading to Phillip, and we came across a phrase describing a visit among friends lasting “no little time.” Phillip wondered at the choice of words; why not use a more straightforward expression? I thought perhaps “no little time” was more poetic than, “They remained together a long time.” 

The week went on and the words traveled with me.

As our time in confinement has lengthened, the trail beside our home has become overcrowded with bicyclists, runners, walkers, people pulling babies behind their bikes in wagons, dog-walkers, throngs gathered on the bridge, passing, coming, and going. The weather has been enticing, and I understand spring’s power for beckoning families weary of being indoors to exercise and relax on the trail. It has felt as though no little time has passed since we were told to care for ourselves and others by staying home. Long days of anxiety, of flattened, twisted energy, and of the need for sunlight and fresh air require release.

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The crowding on the trail has been especially heavy during the past two weekends. And none who passed us as we gardened, sat on the deck, walked our own dogs up and down our driveway, or glanced from the window, wore a mask or kept a safe distance from the people around them. The trail, an old railroad track, is maybe 10 ft. wide and bordered by ditches, so there’s nowhere to escape when others are coming at you; certainly, a 6-ft. barrier is impossible to maintain. 

I understand and I do not understand. People need a place outside to move and revel in the scents and views of spring, but during the flourishing of an invasive, infectious virus, why would you so cavalierly choose to put your health and that of anyone else at risk? Why a narrow trail rather than open parkland? Why behave as though the virus is gone simply because you want it to be? We know, empirically, it’s here for no little time.

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At any rate, our own use of the trail ended several weeks ago, and we struggled with that decision and the need to give 5 dogs their daily exercise, looping the yard over and over, encouraging the completion of necessary tasks the dogs are unaccustomed to performing off-trail (i.e., begging them to just poop, already). We decided against trips to the county dogpark months ago; now the trail was also off-limits, and we could be staying in place for another year, at least. We had never added a fence to our yard because of the gardens and orchard we established before we had 5 dogs, and because we enjoyed daily walks on the trail, which was often deserted and offered changing views. 

early spring trail

We called the local fencing company and asked for an estimate to fence in about a quarter-acre. Nothing fancy, a black chain-link fence with gates. Something that would fade into the scenery. Maybe. An employee came to our home. He wore no mask, but we had ours on, and backed up about 15 feet from him while he toured and measured and then announced an estimate that caused us to politely thank him for his time, wish him well, and create another plan. Apparently, the fence we wanted approximated the cost of a new home. And garage. And car.

Phillip went online and ordered some plain field fencing, posts, stakes, wood for gates, and bags of cement. He could pre-pay, set up a time for picking it up, and not have to come into contact with anyone. 

He worked hard, for no little time, over the past two weeks, fencing off an acre and creating a little dogpark for 5 happy pups. I worry about birds of prey harming my smaller dogs, so we stay out with them during these new at-home playtimes, a daily adventure we couldn’t have foreseen a year ago.

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It’s not the fence I would have liked or where I wanted it, but the dogs don’t care and–of course–no one is visiting anytime soon, so it’ll do. The pups love their new park, we’re all safely off the trail and far from the viruses being exchanged along it. 

So, we garden, weed, feed the birds, help them nest, watch the eggs hatch and, within weeks, see the babies fledge. We watch our cats rest, our dogs play, our lives pass. We engage with each other and our 4-leggeds and we allow ourselves time alone. We hold each other when we’re overwhelmed and we rest when we need to, if we can. In many ways, on most days, it feels like the retirement we imagined.

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But it’s not. And won’t be, possibly ever, which is challenging to consider. We’re fenced-in for no little time.

Others are experiencing this time completely differently, many desperately, and it has brought home again how useless and destructive it is to judge…We all got where we are through a million choices, some made before we were born, some made without our participation, or in partnerships that ended after the choices were made; often, events out of human control intervened and altered life courses. I’m grateful for our blessed little life, and I’m sad for the people who are struggling economically and emotionally. I’m worried about those who are choosing to socialize on the trail and now, in taverns, but I’m trying hard not to judge what I perceive as their errors in logic and lack of foresight. I’m hurt that the risks presented to older people like us, and with health and autoimmune issues like mine, aren’t considered as people now flock to stores, public spaces, and doctors’ offices. I’m more concerned than ever about my friends working in area hospitals.

But it does no good on earth to harbor bitterness or feed divisiveness. This is humanity, and a glance at history should corroborate the ranges of behavior predictable by now. It’s enough to be grateful for everything that’s brought me here to Full Moon Cottage, Phillip, the 4-leggeds, my writing, my books, gardens, and other diversions. It is no little time of contentment. Mostly.

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Contrary to what I’ve always thought (apparently without question), authentic kindness, hope, and love are a struggle to gestate and support; they are damn hard to nurture, lift, sustain, and carry from one moment to the next, when you really need them in your life. I’m seeing this so much more clearly during the pandemic, as all the antithetical impulses: greed, fear, anger, and hatred rush to their rising in response to the anxiety. 

Our power to love is invited to grow while we live isolated, in confinement, unemployed by any outside distraction. I feel compelled to meet the worry and anger and befriend them, to extend kindness to myself and my dear one, when a tossed laundry basket or salty curse would be more satisfying. 

So often these days, every living thing seems overwhelmingly tender and fragile to me. I can feel angry at the stupidity of those joining crowds and rejecting personal and community protection, but more often, I cry that people are so anxious they’re willing to deny reality. I hear them laughing together on the trail and wonder if they’re robbing themselves of laughing together in a few weeks, or months. Next summer. Ever.

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We are spiritual creatures inhabiting these bodies, having, for a time, a physical experience, as Pierre Teilhard said. We are of the eternal, but here and confined, fenced-in, for a little time, if only to realize no time is little at all; every moment is precious. However it comes wrapped, it’s gift, and needs to be filled with as much kindness, hope, and love as we can cram into it.

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© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.

29 thoughts on “No Little Time

  1. One of the gifts this weird time has bestowed on me is your blog. Thank you for that!

    1. How kind of you to visit and share such a happy comment, Suzy. Thank you so much, and please, during this weird time, stay safe and well. Gentle peace and joy to your heart and spirit.

  2. As a nature lover, I truly enjoyed your post today, especially when you began with a photo of an oriole, the bird we most look forward to returning to our yard each spring. There’s something comforting when they finally appear, like a confirmation that all is well in the world, even as we go through these difficult times.

    Each morning I have breakfast on our patio. The sound of the birds and the water trickling in our fountain soothes my soul and prepares me for another day.

    Nature is a true healer. Be well. ❤️

    1. Couldn’t have said it better, Judy! I’m always excited to see the spring birds, too; they renew a kind of promise for me and center my spirit. Thank you for your kindness in visiting and sharing. I love that you have your breakfast on the patio and begin the day so peacefully, in nature. Joy to your spirit, Judy; stay safe and well.

  3. Kitty, You have again expressed some of what I am feeling so much better than I ever could. Here in Australia it is Autumn and the trees and vines in our garden are brilliant. I feel safe here in my home and garden. I am probably more anxious and often angry when I see people gathering too close on beaches and in shopping centres now that some of the restrictions are lifting than I was at the beginning of this madness. Thank you for reminding me not to judge, and that I can choose how to respond. Wishing you and yours peace and hope and love.

    1. Oh, Katherine; it’s hard and tricky, isn’t it? I mean we do need to asses/judge what’s right and wrong behavior, but I guess we both mean it’s healthier not to judge the person or his motives, without accepting that there are so many unknowns in our lives that lead to our actions. When we truly know “better,” we act with more wisdom, but I certainly haven’t forgotten my own life’s follies or the faults I can still manage to locate and indulge. I do know that all of my life I’ve been held in the prayers and kind thoughts of others, and that so many people aren’t and have never been; it helps me to remember that, and hold their safety and the possibilities for their insight and change in my own heart. (And this often only occurs to me after I feel and hear the anger their behavior creates…live/learn.)

      I love autumn, and imagine you surrounded by its glory: Sending so much peace to you, Katherine, my kindred spirit! Stay safe and well.

    1. Dear Christiane, this is so lovely to read and deeply appreciated. Thank you for visiting and for your kindness. I hope you are safe and well. Gentle peace and joy to your heart.

    1. Thank you, Pilar! It is so kind of you to write and to share. Blessings on your week’s end; stay safe and well. Gentle peace.

  4. I love the photos of your animals and the beautiful birds 😊
    Such a thoughtful piece; you’re right though – people are anxious to resume ‘normal’ living. They can only experience life through their own thinking so what they’re doing looks ok to them. Keep safe x

    1. I love the way you put it, Muriel; we so want others to experience life through our own way of thinking. 🙂 It helps me to reflect on the generosity I offer others, and myself. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos…all these lovely life companions are comforting and so full of lessons. Stay safe and well, Muriel. Gentle peace.

  5. Dearest Kitty – your writings have been such a blessing during this strangest of times. My Patrick and I are happily retired in our little Dragonfly Cottage out in the country near Austin, Texas. My emotions at time seem to be riding on a roller coaster. Contentment turns to disbelief to acceptance. Uh oh! Here comes anger at how stupid people can be followed by gratefulness that none of them are my cherished friends, one of whom turned me on to you. Ah…peace comes again. ❤️

  6. How kind of you to write, Jesse. I’m glad my writing can be part of your journey and offer you a peaceful rest stop as it proceeds. It is a chaotic time and the anxiety normal to life is excessive, so I agree that shifts of feeling are more profound and their velocity is dramatic. I think it’s wonderful you can name your feelings and recognize their transitory power. I wish you and your Patrick greater waves of peace and contentment, and that you stay safe and well at Dragonfly Cottage while the virus continues to offer her lessons. May we all be wise in our choices. Gentle peace to you both.

  7. So beautiful and wise, Kitty. Thanks for sharing your words and photos. Can’t wait to visit again— 12ft apart w masks! 😙

  8. Thank you, dear one; I appreciate that so much…and we’re all looking forward to a visit from you and Penny! Please take care and be safe…I am so proud to know you, and thank you for your important work in the world Shirley. xoxo Love you.

  9. Oh, I nodded all the way through this! Couldn’t agree more, you put my juvenile thoughts into a wonderfully coherent post! You have yourselves a dogpark!!! I wish I had that much space to fence up! Our grounds are only a third of an acre. You have everything you need to keep safe with your pups….I’m happy about that! I often think, but for fate, I could have been born in a slum in India….jeez, no money, no food, no self isolating, I feel very privileged as do you, I count my blessings daily. Loved this and all of you. Love and hugs. Good to know you are now safer. xxxx

    1. You are so right, Snowbird; we’re born with unchosen destinies and then alter or accommodate them with all our choices…it’s a wonder how blessed we are at this point in our lives. Yet, these are hard times for all of us, too. Comfort at home isn’t a substitute for holding a grandchild, and I know others struggle much more without society than I do. I’m thankful for the technology that keeps us in touch and able to share our thoughts and feelings. 🙂 Love you, Be safe and well,

  10. We too live close to a trail that used to be a railroad track…and I am witnessing and bewildered by all of the same things you are seeing. The cavalier attitude of people is shocking. I had to use the trail the other day and maybe only 10% of the people on it were wearing any sort of face cover at all. I love your writing and am so happy to have come across your blog! ❤️

    1. Thank you so much for taking time to stop and to share, Joanna. I’m sorry you’re seeing some of these dangerous choices being made as well and hope these people will not pay too dramatically for them, or–certainly–endanger the lives of the vulnerable, and of our caregivers. This is a huge invitation to selflessness, sacrifice, and a deeper generosity of spirit…I hope we can meet it with love. Thank you again for your kindness; be safe and well, Joanna. Gentle peace.

  11. Everything you wrote in the post resonated with me. These are challenging times for the entire world and everything we thought has been turned upside down. I consider myself an optimist but over the last few months I have felt those feeling wane. I was hopeful that this pandemic would cause some good, and at this point it seems to soon to tell but there has been so much ugliness, greed and other negative things. I get frustrated when I have to be out and there are the most vulnerable with no masks, I wonder do they not have access to them, or money, or they simply do not know. As they say, “walk a mile in my shoes” and you never know what goes on behind closed doors. The one thing that has bothered me for a few years and bothers me even more now is the amount of food waste in this country. I hope that this pandemic is a call to action for many, myself included to help figure out ways to get food to people in need instead of it ending up in landfills.

    1. Thank you so very much for writing and sharing your concerns.

      I think feeling anxious and concerned are normal responses to such a time, but I try not to engage too much or often with the barrage of “news” focusing on the greed and ugliness. These behaviors have always been with us and are exhausting. There are so very many people helping and serving; I’d rather notice and support them. Why give my power and attention to the odious? It’s sad that our media find highlighting these wretched few a desirable way to make money.

      I share your concern for the unemployed and suffering, and agree these are the people we need to find ways to help, so we can all emerge from this time in health and a sense of security…we can–and must–do so much better. Sometimes I think the real virus that’s overtaken us is indolence. People want change, but resist working for it.

      Here is to humankind’s willingness to act in favor of each other and the earth, while we may.

      Gentle peace to you; be well and safe!

  12. Thank you for this. It does help. I also have an autoimmune disease and medication that forces me now to become even more reclusive than before.
    Could I quote a small section of this blog post on my blog?

    1. I am so sorry you also have to struggle with autoimmune disease, Sabine. I pray we’ll be safe and held in each other’s hearts during this time. Yes, please use what you need, but kindly cite my authorship and a link to the blog; that would be greatly appreciated.

      Stay well and safe, Sabine, and gentle peace.

  13. As a woman who ran her own dog rescue for many years, and whose clients are all in the animal sheltering/rescue fields or animal lovers, I particularly related to this post. My immune system is also challenged, and I watch people “out there” acting as if this virus were nothing, that they are somehow immune themselves. It’s disturbing and frightening. Thank you, Kitty, for the beautiful and heartfelt words you write, for offering a perspective that many of us share and can say, “Yes, exactly!”. And of course, for the photos. Hey, that fence looks pretty good to me! Take care & stay safe. Jeanne

  14. Thank you, Jeanne! And thanks for the love and care and beauty you have offered, and continue to share with, the world. All of our 4-leggeds, dogs and cats, are rescued, and, of course, a few were my fosters that never got past my arms, although I did help quite a few other pups find their families, too…And, yes. all the rescues need support and supplies more than ever.

    The fence/”dogpark” is working out just fine. Thank you! The trail continues to be busy, but the state’s case numbers have fallen…a bit. We’ll see what the protests may have done to people’s health. I am most grateful and hopeful regarding the necessary awakening the protests have caused, but I fear the results from such a lack of social distancing and PPE.

    Onward.

    Be safe and well, and gentle peace.

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