We’ve been as busy as the butterflies and bees in the gardens at Full Moon Cottage these past few weeks. The flow and succession of blooms has begun in earnest, and we’ve had small rains this season, so watering and weeding and cutting back have added to the rhythms of caring for the 4-leggeds that circumscribe our daily dawn-to-dusk routines. The food garden has been offering up lettuces and radishes and promising much more; the earth creates such hope this time of year.
The pups love watching Phillip water the garden through their fenced-in “park,” and, in addition to offering him their learned advice, they enjoy racing up and down the length of the fence to bark at anyone traveling the bike trail. A cacophony of joy, for me.
The camera and my own focus have zoomed in and out on the world, the gardens, us, and my heart. When the world’s unrest becomes too much, I turn from its incessant noise and focus on the gardens. When the weeding and cutting back become too much, I focus on one plant, or bee, or spider.
When the arguments in my head get too loud, I listen to music, or read, or meditate. And I am blessed and grateful to be involved in several creative projects with other artists, and these punctuate my days with lovely gifts of inspiration and a kind of tribal sharing of symbol, metaphor, rhythm, color, and music. When those fail, we use words.
And so we live and move and have our being under the overarching facts of quarantine, loss, anger, discord, and justified social unrest; we are little ants moving about in a dangerous, beautiful, and unpredictable world. As dusk settles into darkness, we watch the fireflies in the gardens and try to articulate our responses to matters we cannot affect and feelings that are sometimes at odds with our beliefs.
We do not have the experience or will to meet the violence in words and behavior that seem to be increasing in our national discourse. An hour with a news program can set our hearts racing and create the need for a shower, so much filth is flung around these days, and most of it by the one designated to lead us forward and together.
I participated in an online retreat for a day last weekend offered by Susan Lambert and friends, and was surprised by how refreshing and renewing it was. I value one or two-week retreats at my favorite places every year, and I didn’t think a day’s worth, at home and online, would be nearly as valuable to my spirit as it was. Delicious spirit food and highly recommended, along with all the glorious arts being offered freely through so many online outlets. Re-balancing is more vital for my spirit than ever.
I celebrated my birthday this week, too. The retreat was a gift to myself, but it paled in comparison to the party Phillip and the 4-leggeds surprised me with on my birthday, first thing in the morning. Sweet wrapped gifts and cards, a lovely breakfast, and smooches galore: what could be better? I didn’t even miss celebrating at the winery and restaurant we like to visit for special occasions, and the day was so filled with Zooming, and chatting, and messaging, e-cards, and speaking with loved ones, that I was quite happy to jump into bed with Phillip and a book fairly early that night…it felt like I’d experienced a very full day of socializing, and I had, in the curious way that socializing is done while we’re in quarantine.
And we still are. In quarantine.
For a person who has approached every task of her life with the desire to make it as “creative” as possible, I’ve always had great respect for math, science, and logic, and the creativity inherent to those disciplines as well. And so, I am amazed at the number of intelligent people who have decided to leave home, travel, gather in crowds, throw all health recommendations to the wind, and live as though we are not in the midst of a pandemic. I know I’m at higher risk for contracting and becoming very ill with the virus, but even if I weren’t, I’d still be at home, if I could be. Science, math, and logic seem to make the risks in socializing obvious; why are so many people ignoring this?
Science, math, and logic make clear there’s nothing political about a virus, why confuse the issue utterly by making it appear so? I look at the madness of a crowded political rally and I truly do not know where I am or what the hell happened to my country…but perhaps it was more of a who that happened. Or a conglomeration of who’s that saw the moment and seized it for the personal gain they could grab. They seem cursed with such bottomless greed that they’re willing to endlessly and in great volume shill lies like over-excited carnival barkers, promoting a rally to “celebrate America’s reopening” in a state where the Coronavirus case count is rising.
What is the intellectual challenge here that has been overlooked and unaddressed? What has been omitted in our schools’ curricula that has allowed so many to graduate without the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion? What has caused this Great Regression?
I’m reminded of the famous Carl Rose cartoon that appeared in The New Yorker in December, 1928, and was captioned by E.B. White. A little girl is rejecting her mother’s attempt to convince the girl that the vegetable on her plate is broccoli. The girl replies, “I say it’s spinach and I say to hell with it.” It’s a struggle to hang on to the facts some days. I find myself saying, “Wait. What?” Phillip and I look at each other during a news break and discuss whether we’re being way too cautious, fearful perhaps, and maybe weirdly reclusive about our decision to stay home and avoid contact with asymptomatic, or infected-and-not-yet-aware people.
And then I sit and re-read a faded letter my great-uncle wrote to my grandmother. She was a young girl at home with her parents and he, her favorite and beloved brother, was a young man-about town, working and partying, meeting friends at this home and that, going dancing, teasing his sweet little sister about all the jokes, and the romance, and the jolly fun life offered as you stepped into it fully. It was the autumn of 1918. And within a week, he was dead. And, of course, she grieved this loss all her life, the merry adored brother, all strength and promise and hope, and never known beyond his youth.
This is a different time, and a different virus, and one that most dramatically targets a different segment of the population, but it seems the desire to cloak the truth, suppress it, dress it up in a pleasing costume, ignore it, or pretend it’s broccoli, is just as human now as it was then, and at a cost far greater than was necessary to pay.
Tomorrow is our longest day, the summer solstice. We like to celebrate with a bonfire, but it looks like we’ll finally be receiving the rain we’ve longed for and will be inside, waiting for fireflies, remaining in quarantine, honoring the truths told by science, math, and logic, rather than the lies offered to convince us otherwise.
Please, be well and safe. And a very Happy Father’s Day to all men who love and serve as role models for children, or who love and care for the earth, for 4-leggeds, for anything that needs love and nurturing to more joyfully and freely offer its gifts to our world.