One of my neighbors on our Buy Nothing Group was looking for white roses to propagate from cuttings. We have a wonderful display of tiny pink Cecile Bruners when they are in bloom. But they are pink, not white. I offered those, but told her she would have to bring her own clippers and take whatever she wanted. Another neighbor offered roses too, and eventually she was able to collect quite a few cuttings. Normally I would have taken the cuttings for her and left them on our porch, but my husband and I have been under the Covid seige for the last two weeks, and I haven't ventured out. It's one of the weirdest viruses I have ever experienced, and I do not recommend it. Yes, we are boosted and reboosted, and have done all the usual things to protect ourselves. But before Thanksgiving we had been going out and about, and well, I guess that's what happens when you rejoin the world no matter how careful you try to be.
Right now it feels to me like time is as fragile as the fall leaves I arrange in the little tin can labeled 365 that sits on my desk. The leaves were only tiny buds in June. Now If I handle them too roughly they crumble. I've had them here for a week and I love the way they are beginning to curl and the way the colors change as they make their inevitable journey to stardust. That's where our journey ends too. Stardust.
As I recall, before the Great Pandemic of 2020, I used to be able to focus on a task. I was capable of doing the laundry, shopping for food, leading my Writing Group and planning writing exercises, cooking, and generally staying with a task until it was completed. But I have been overcome by an insidious fog which traps me in an anxiety loop with occasional bursts of determination that fizzle out in minutes. I now own more pairs of shoes than I ever have had in my life. Walking shoes, orthopedic shoes, slippers, sandals, athletic shoes. Since the pandemic hit I have purchased more shoes than I could ever wear out.
What is it about autumn? We know leaves will be falling, branches will be bare, but we savor and celebrate the process. Change is precious in this season, something we normally want to avoid. We welcome it in the fall. The autumn moon shines brighter in our collective memories, and the earlier sunsets can streak the sky with darker colors. The weather is unpredictable, some days start out under gray skies and then the sun breaks through late in the day and we shed our sweaters and jackets.
The air is heavy. I can feel it in my chest, that little sear of pain with each inhale. “Haze” my father called it. “It will burn off soon.” Burn it does, at least in my lungs. But it's 1952. I’m a kid and my energy level exceeds the need for a lung full of clean air. Los Angeles smog is just accepted as inevitable, and until the wind blows it off to sea or the rain brings the pollution down, we live with it.
We live in California, on the western edge of the United States. The continent buckles and bulges where it meets the sea, and we have earthquakes that tend to remind us of that tendency. Things expand and contract on the edges.
The scenery is spectacular. I have traveled to Europe and when we reached the mediterranean regions in Italy or France, I often thought I was home again in California.
We live in the San Fernando Valley, and we must traverse the canyons, one way or another, to get to the sea. Today we made the journey to Malibu where the surf is often 'up' as they say. Today the ocean was calm, the waves gentle on the shore where we sat enjoying the view and the food.
Yesterday was a holiday here in the USA. Everybody knows that on July 4th we remember that this was the day we won independence. And this year we are keenly reminded that we never had it, not really. We are no longer subject to Kings or Queens of England, but we are held hostage by extremists who still want to curtail personal freedom, especially for people of color, especially for women. How has it come to be that after 249 years some of us are still trying to break free? Eighty-one years of living and I still have more questions than answers. The only sure thing is that we must keep pushing forward towards liberty for all. Even when we are pushed back, we must keep pushing forward. It's hard, often unrewarding, work.
But sometimes we need to celebrate what we do have. And we do have so much. Without times to appreciate the freedom we have, we cannot find the strength to keep working toward the ultimate goal.
My subconscious operates like one of those “Magic 8-Balls”. Just as I am humming along, thinking the day is going pretty well, something or someone will trigger a long forgotten memory. I won’t have asked ANY questions, but there it will be, that memory of an event or a person like it had been sitting at the bottom of whatever oily liquid it floats in, just waiting for something to shake it up so it can reveal its ugly answer to whatever question it perceives I have asked.
It’s not like I’m at war with it, or anything. I frequently order up dreams of one kind or another. But that doesn’t always pay off, either. Say I want a calm dream of meeting a friend in a quiet garden or by the sea. The response I get could very well be a dystopian dream or one of being expected to go on stage not knowing my lines.
Sometimes mothers simply cannot give us what we need. It's good to remember that their children have a hard time on Mother's Day.
"Her extremes cornered him...immobilized him, until he was forced into action to protect her. It would mean another hospital stay...another attempt at medication....The toll it took on [their daughter] Jenny had been huge. Neither one of them were available to her after she was about ten. She had to learn to fend for herself. ...There were so many sleepless nights, so many spoiled holidays, so many times when the house had been in chaos. No wonder [Jenny] left home when she was so young."
More about Jenny's story in THE CUCKOO.
DO YOU SUPPOSE?
Do you suppose, that 2000 years ago, when sandaled feet, dusty and dirty with the labors and travel of the day, were bathed by family or friends, it felt any different than it does today?
Was the water less or more refreshing than we are used to?
Was the soap or oil used to help in the cleansing any less effective?
Were cuts or bruises on those feet from an unexpected encounter with thorns or rocks or sticks any less sore?
Were the cloths used to dry those tired feet less effective than what we have today?
After a long day of play or helping with daily tasks were children any less wiggly, or giggly, or whiny?