June Reflections 2020

It has been impossible for me to keep up with blogging this month.

I have missed reading your posts and have been so belated with responses to comments. Occasionally I write, but I hesitate to post because I am so behind reciprocating visits and thanking people for sharing their thoughtful, lovely work and comments.

I began the spring with an ambitious plan to improve the quality of the soil and ordered a LARGE truckload of compost from a cattle farmer who raises his herd humanely without antibiotics, growth hormones, or chemical feed. Ten yards of compost, though, is a lot to move, shovel by shovel, wagonload by wagonload, from my backyard driveway down the winding, sloping path to the front yard.

But it’s good, honest work that helps me find moments of peace in these unsettling times. Gardening gives me a chance to reflect about life, traveling though time. Often, it helps me create something that I hope will lift others’ spirits, too.


***

June 3, 2020


Unresolved Woundedness

ah, these trying times
forcing me to go ever deeper
to discover yet more
unresolved woundedness

violence, cruelty, duplicity
triggering old memories
of my socially awkward years
as a child, teen, college student

always curious about nature
and others from different cultures
preferring reading, discovery
and solving complex puzzles

and always uncomfortable
with superficial people
who competed, bullied,
and seemed so easily bored when alone

I honestly preferred being alone
it’s confusing for someone
who reads or feels others’ emotions
never knowing which are actually mine

we see the world through lenses
programmed by our past experiences
expectations and assumptions
influencing what we think we see
our behavior, expressions, posture
affecting how others respond
filtered through their unique lenses
we’re like marionettes pulled by invisible strings
in a reciprocal dance based on assumptions
unable to determine what is really “real”

 

Columbine blooming in an unlikely place

***

June 15, 2020

Mid-June Reflections 2020

August dry has come early
The earth baked and cracked
Close-mown lawns
brown and brittle
Day after day
dawns cold and windy
Trees and gardens struggling,
aching for life-giving rain

It seems a metaphor
for the world these days
of virus fears and
in-your-face denial
of state-sanctioned violence
revealing cultures
that clearly value
property and profit
more than people and
the global ecosphere

So many are struggling
to find reasons and ways
for simply staying alive
during this drought
of compassion and intelligence

***

June 23, 2020

June Reflections – 2020 Visions?

The wisdom of elders
seated on downtown benches
watching the traffic pass by
some measuring the souls
of preoccupied walkers
too busy to smile or say hello
or stop and listen
to what they’ve learned
from years of living life
invisible
on the margins

One of the few photos I have of my downtown neighborhood, taken January 1, 2016


My walks with my dog, Pinto, are often through unexplored territory. No two days are the same as he picks our path through the neighborhood for reasons I cannot discern. This morning, he took us deep into the business district of this part of town, making sure to sniff almost every lamp post and lift his leg to memorialize his passing.

As we neared the light at an intersection, I noticed the elder sitting on a bench smoking his cigarette. His presence brought insights and memories. These days I try to remember to be present and kind. It’s what I can do to counterbalance the alienating fear of others during the era of pandemic social distancing.

I reflect on the term “social distancing.” I remember reading a powerful insight shared by a dear blogging friend a while ago. She noted the difference between “physical distancing” required to slow the spread of COVID-19, and “social distancing.” Social distancing is a prominent characteristic I have often noticed in the U.S. Think about people’s behavior in elevators or on crowded city thoroughfares. People typically don’t make eye-contact or exchange greetings with strangers.

Yet it’s been my experience that elders on downtown benches often do notice others.

“Nice dog,” the elder we encountered said.

“Thank you,” I replied.

Does he bite?,” he asked.

Yes, he may bite,” I replied. “I adopted him seven years ago as a special-needs dog that was abused. He had to learn to defend himself. I used to have to handle him with leather gloves when I first got him. Now, he’s usually gentle with me or people he’s learned to trust.”

“I will never understand how people can abuse dogs.” The elder said. “People can be so cruel.”

“I agree. They can be,” I said. “It’s very sad and troubling.”

“It was good to speak with you. I hope you have a good day,” I said as Pinto and I continued on our way.

***

June 30, 2020

Gardening is one thing I can do during these crazy, isolating times. Neighbors and strangers stop by to visit when I’m working in the yard. They tell me the gardens make a difference to them and others they know. But it’s a lot of work!

Many trees, bushes, and gardens needed to be saved, repaired, or replaced because of damage from heavy winter snow, hungry rabbits, and the passage of time. Keeping plants alive has also been an increasing challenge during our two-month drought during May and June. Fortunately, we finally got rain for the last two evenings (0.19 of an inch of precipitation which brings our total for June to 0.66 of an inch, and 1.60 inches for May and June*).

The good news is that half of the compost pile has been carefully placed. The bad news? It’s much warmer now. Shoveling and hauling compost is even more work than it was in May and early June.

Gardens may not touch others’ hearts, but they do help me remember what’s most important in my life. I’m deeply grateful to be blessed with a little piece of land and the ability to kneel and touch the earth – to plant food and flowers that will perhaps feed me, my family, and some of my neighbors in the long winter to come. Of course, birds and squirrels demand their share even though fences make it more difficult for rabbits to claim what remains.

The greatest gift of this time, though, has been the opportunity to think deeply, to see more clearly without the distraction of having to relate to others. I’ve had a chance to explore the powerful outrage I feel that has deepened and intensified over the years about the wetiko spirit of this country, the mindless need for ever more power and stuff that has continued to destroy lives and the earth across centuries.

Reflection has led me to the equally deep certainty that this world does not need more anger if we are ever to heal the hubris and ignorance that keeps us from living in peace with each other and in harmony with the earth. All I can do is work on my own thoughts, words, and actions to transmute the power of those raging emotions into compassion, patience, and integrity no matter what others do, moment to moment. To look deeply enough to find the strength to hold center.

Kneeling on the earth with my hands caressing the soil has helped me find and hold center during these trying times. Yes, it’s hard work. It’s a job that carries no guarantees of success or permanence. So many forces are outside of my control. But shovel by shovel, seed by seed, I am grateful for the chance to do something that helps create a healthier world in my little space. It’s the legacy I can leave for the generations to follow, and the gift I can offer to virtual friends I may never meet face-to-face.

* Notes

Information about precipitation came from Weather Underground

The article, “Seeing Wetiko: On capitalism, mind viruses, and antidotes for a world in transition” by Alnoor Ladha and Martin Kirk, was published in 2016 in the Spring/Summer issue of Kosmos.

July Afterthoughts (July 9, 2020)

a brief visit with my grandson, July 3, 2020

Still finding it difficult to abandon silence and solitude,

preferring the company of plants, birds, and dragonflies

that remind me what it means to simply be present

to hold center

with compassion, patience, and integrity

 

25 thoughts on “June Reflections 2020

Add yours

  1. “I honestly preferred being alone.”
    Yep.
    And I still do now,
    especially, after all these years.
    So many people,
    worth my efforts over time,
    but so many more,
    unreliable.
    This we can rely on.
    You and I.
    Plants, birds, wild animals,
    baby children everywhere.
    You and I both know,
    these are what we can actually rely on.
    The coyote packs,
    are howling as I write this.
    Do you think they disagree?
    I think they do.
    Love to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful reflections. Ten yards of compost is quite the pile to move, probably with a wheelbarrow… If it’s got to be spread in gardens, 8 yards a day is about my limit, going full bore! You must have quite a lot of garden to need that much compost!
    It is my understanding that the anger and the hate innate to this world of man must run its course until the suffering engendered by these evils destroys the very last living homo sapiens. Then and only then will it become possible to build something entirely new for this world without a return to the past. Forward, only forward can the awakened move.
    It is possible to enjoy what’s left of this natural world in the context of man’s civilization but we should try to remember that we are living in the last scene of a very badly acted and drawn out play; that very soon we will see “The End” fill the screen and no credits will be run. That is my vision.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments, Sha’Tara.

      I lost count of the yards of topsoil and compost I have shoveled and hauled since I moved here 9 years ago. I learned about 20 years ago, though, that it’s much easier for me to pull heavy loads in a garden wagon. I could never push and balance a 3-wheeled wheelbarrow and negotiate curves, inclines, and open gates. Still, it’s heavy, sweaty work. A cubic yard of dirt weighs about 2,200 pounds (almost 1,000 kilograms).

      In terms of the future, as a mother, grandmother, friend, and educator of promising youth, I need to believe that change for the better is possible. Even though I can only muster the will and energy to take on small, insignificant tasks to care, it’s something that helps me through times like these.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too, believe it or not, believe that positive change is possible… not only possible, but will happen. The difference in approach is that I “know” that no positive change of global reach can happen under current social and economic conditions. Man has gone beyond the bounds of common sense as regards his environment and must pay the price now. This civilization is non-sustainable. Those who have the power and riches only want more and there will be no sharing. With endemic poverty will come increased sickness, violence and death. Inevitable. But after the “cleansing” which is going to be terrible for the generations who will experience it, there will come an awakening; a new way of thinking; a new approach to everything. It will not be a return to any of the old ways, however attractive they may seem now, it will be a spectacular movement forward in which everything will be new and none of it will have roots in the old. We will simply mutate into a new species. That’s the vision.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thoughtful and heartfelt post… Thanks so much for inspiring and sharing Carol. As a people we have so much in common. We all need to be encouraged to march on and encourage others even when our walk through life is a struggle. Blessings, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you. So moved by reading your poems. They underlined in your carefully chosen words what I’m seeing around me. While I take heart from the expanded movement for racial justice, I see how friends of color are experiencing symptoms of PTSD as they remember and relive so many experiences of racialized aggression. As we talk about change – the future – we open all those wounds of the past. Only real, profound change can answer for the touching of those unresolved wounds. I’m glad you can also touch the earth and cultivate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so grateful to hear from you, Diane! You have been in my thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing your observations, reflections, and kind words.

      These times do reopen unresolved wounds. It’s something my students helped me understand last semester as each of them struggled in their own ways with a legacy of wounding because of their unique positionality – class, ancestry, religion, gender, and/or abilities.

      Sending my best wishes to you. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol, it’s always a joy to hear from you 🙂 You’ve been very busy, indeed! Maintaining a garden is a work of love. I’ve also found that it’s a wonderful opportunity for reflection on life–plants do have so much to teach us–and for lifting the spirits of our neighbors and others who enter our space. Stay safe, well, and strong ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hearing from you is always a gift to me, as well, Rosaliene. I was actually thinking about you when I was working my my garden yesterday, about the time you comment came in. I appreciate your thoughtful, lovely comments, and your important, thought-provoking posts. Sending my best wishes to you, dear friend. 💜

      Like

  6. No compost other than what we’ve turned but our raised beds are likewise a bower for reflection. 24/7 every day for months is a lot of time to spend together but after 57 years Jane and I can find solace in pandemic isolation. Your reflections are a delight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ron, it’s always a gift to hear from you! Thank you for your thoughtful comments and kind words.

      The soil here, either clay of hard depleted compacted dirt, still needs so much work to rebuild. I have lost count of the number of yards of top soil and compost I have added over each of the past 8 years. Even after I finish moving the pile I have now, there will still be a lot of work left to do next year! Hopefully, I will still be able to do the hard work.

      Thank you for sharing such lovely reflections about the comfort of companionship that you and Jane have continued to provide for each other as you work together to make the world a kinder place. It’s heartwarming and inspiring.

      Sending my best wishes to you both. 💜

      Like

  7. Hello Carol,
    I am pleasantly surprise to see there are more folks who don’t mind “being alone” than I’d imagined… Thank you so much for sharing this latest post. You do bless us in many ways with your words and images. Please do continue to stay safe and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your always thoughtful, lovely comments, Takami. What you see and capture in your photos while being alone is a gift to all.

      I am deeply grateful and send my best wishes to you, too. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful post! Lovely photo of you and your Grandson. Adding compost to a garden is the best thing a person can do. 10 Yards, that’s a lot of shovel fulls. How close does your Grandson live? You may have to pay him (kid’s nowadays 🙂 ), but he’ll get more than the money out of it. Wishing you well. Thanks for looking at my blog when you can – if it’s a toss up, write more often. Your posts are always an inspiration. Take care. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Bob. I laughed when I saw the photo my daughter took of my grandson and me. I look like a tiny ancient elf. 😂

      I know my grandson would help (even for free although I know he could use extra $), and my daughter has offered, too. I appreciate their thoughtfulness, but they have a different approach to the task. I need to take time to get everything ready, moving bricks, pavers, and weeding first, and then spreading the compost just so… They work fast and would create new piles in the front yard that I would need to move again anyway. These days, though, I don’t feel the need to work in the noon-day sun. But I do need to be out early in the morning to water gardens again.

      I love your photos and reflections. Please wish Lisa a belated happy birthday for me. Sending my best wishes to you both and to your lovely family as well. 💜

      Like

  9. This is such a beautiful and heartwarming post. I went through myriads of little emotions as if journeying the month of June along with you again. Isolation can be soul crushing and lonely sometimes. That small conversation with the stranger about Pinto is what probably touched me the most. I’m so glad I came across this blog. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please accept my sincere apology for my very belated reply to your eloquent and deeply touching comments, Shruba. Thank you! I am grateful for your kindness and the opportunity to discover your lovely blog. I look forward to reading more of your thoughtful and thought-provoking reflections. Sending my best wishes to you. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please don’t apologize, I do this myself all the time and I completely understand! Thanks for checking out my blog, hope you enjoy going through it whenever you are free. I’ll be following you so I get updates whenever you post something new too. Stay safe! ❤🥰

        Liked by 1 person

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