The students in the high school where I taught are taking classes remotely. It seems like most people are doing things remotely these days, attending poetry readings, visiting with family, working. Some businesses have already announced permanent changes. They are closing, or intend to allow employees to continue working at a distance if they prefer. After confessing I had purchased a work of art I really cannot afford, I almost made my first sale accidentally and remotely just the other day. That was heartening.
Accepting that beauty matters is an act of faith and hope. The expectation that a moment’s grace, a moment of noticing, a few seconds of admiration and appreciation are worth something. Maybe they are worth nearly everything.
My bedroom window is open to the dawn chorus: birdsong in the early morning light. It is not yet 5:30am and I am thinking about that nearby robin and waiting for the first song sparrow to chime in. The light pours over the coast range, but we are a long ways from sunrise. And today will be a bright day, at least bright enough for our walk. Last night the rain came so heavy that it woke me up. And now the birds celebrate the coming day.
A poet friend always puts up photos of her cat with her publications, and flowers—she always includes photos of her flowers.
I planted nine SunGold tomato seeds, three each in three little recycled pots, and placed them in my one south-facing window. We grew several varieties last year and this one was our favorite. My little seedings tip their heads toward the window and are working on their first set of true leaves. In another week or so I will prick them out and repot them into big planters to put in the “cat room”, which is an enclosed porch. Though I had never grown vegetables from seed before, I have others sprouting in pots already, but these tomatoes received privileged treatment. I almost know what I’m doing.
We look forward to Gardener’s World each Friday, our treat to watch Monty Don working in his garden, even when it’s pouring outside and we are not working outdoors in our own. Monty takes us through his gardens (there are many gardens on his 2-3 acres) and he visits gardens all over the UK, mostly from last years, but also from gardeners like us who are planting their windowsills and yards and sending in videos, but Monty is filming all by himself. He and his immediate family are sheltering in place, and so are the other contributors. They are all watching their gardens grow.
Plants just go right on despite everything—there they are, just like everything is normal. Flowers coming on all over the place. My third round of irises has opened, the daphne and daffodils are done, but the little rose is open. There will be more rugosa roses and more irises, and those magenta flowers I can not seem to remember the name of—they are coming up all over, having self-seeded in the front yard. I planned to make a bit of a terrace where there is now only a lot of sand.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what comes. I’ve been thinking about the beautiful gifts that simply arrive, if only I take time to notice. Violets and snow-in-summer and those magenta-flowering plants have volunteered generously where the deck used to be. When (if) I ever get around to rearranging the stones we have gathered and the ones Gary gave me for our anniversary last year, I will not even transplant them, but just pull the grasses and place the stones around the violets.
. . . from Heather Cox Richardson’s post last night, a few words from former president Barak Obama who spoke to the high school graduates of 2020 in an event called Graduate Together:
Obama noted that the pandemic had “fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” “Turns out that they don’t have all the answers. A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions.”
He called for today’s youth to honor “honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others.”
He rejected the aggressive individualism that has defined America since the Reagan years. “[I]t doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick…. [O]ur society and democracy only works when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.”
He placed America’s strength in community. “No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it’s easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times; if we’re going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job, and afford college; if we’re going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then we’re going to have to do it together. So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path.”
Her daily news posts are short and to the point. The news isn’t often good these days, but she does provide stories worth reading. You can find her Letters from an American here: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-16-2020?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cta
White storks have hatched chicks in England for the first time in hundreds of years.
. . . and I find the lipsycing of politicians talking and the pandemic are a hoot.