harvest and hope – sharing small bounties

Dear Loves,

It is April 16 2020, about a month into this new reality the world has been thrust into, also about a month into spring. It’s been an early spring this year, after a scant winter, for us. In some ways, I wonder if it would’ve been easier to practice this self-isolation in that more appropriate season, winter, when hibernation and burrowing and curling up are a natural part of life’s cycle, although, at least with the early spring weather we are able to replenished by the hope of spring awakenings, of sun on our faces, of fresh breezes, of sprouts and buds popping, of bird and peeper song.

This is, however, the reality here for me. For others, who are trapped in their apartments in the cities, or inside of their own trauma, in external or internal landscapes devoid of such hope, that is not so, although small wonders exist everywhere if you have eyes to see them. This morning I read a poem about saving an ant in the midst of the helplessness of doing nothing.  But there are also are griefs and sufferings, big and small, stress and fear exacerbating them all, which make it too hard to see.

I have witnessed the way loved ones have less patience in one breath- a ‘shortness’ of breath perhaps -and deeper forgiveness in the next. I have witnessed wide swings from hopeless despair to wild possibility. I have noticed the digging into new projects (literally in some cases, as back yards are being turned into gardens) and I have noticed the laying aside of dreams (and the inability to get out of bed because of that).  I have witnessed falling apart and pulling together. I have heard anger and tears, and once or twice, laughter. I have read accounts of our potential stark new reality that seem to reach out from the page to pull my heart into my gut, and stories of potential reconstructions that fill me with joy.

Perhaps this is the way of undoing.

I haven’t exactly been ‘undoing’, and I accept that as part of the cycle of ‘undoing’ for me. Not right or wrong, just me. I’m trying to pay attention lightly – to both the world outside and the one inside—not to go into full denial or dissociation from reality, but also not to wallow in it. To notice gently, as in, ‘ Oh, I see you. IT’s ok’

On Easter Sunday afternoon, I drove from home to home of my children, dropping off care packages for the grandchildren, offering a small dollop of sourdough starter to the adults. As I packaged it up, I had the thought that this is the exponential growth that we might perhaps carry forth from this time of dire warnings of the exponential growth of a deadly virus. Perhaps this is also a time which will ferment in us a world that might nurture us all, a love that shares even its small bounties.

These last few days, I have been baking that bread. My first attempt was far from perfect, dense but tasty. I am learning as I go, and that is ok too. We all are learning again how to be. I’ve also experimenting with new dinner recipes and trying out new recipes for the dehydrator – coffee cherry smoothies, butternut risotto, scrambled eggs with polenta. Dozens and dozens of meal packs are stacking up in the overflowing chest freezer for that canoe trip that one day will happen. The kitchen at day’s end (and sometimes that is well after dark) is a disaster.

Looking at my kitchen, I understand that sometimes there is nurture that comes from within disaster too. Indeed, a book that is now in the mail for me to receive, is entitled “Paradise from Hell, The Extraordinary Communities that Arise from Disaster’, by Rebecca Solnit, touted as the ‘freshest, deepest, most optimistic accounts of human nature’.  I took a call this week from the Red Cross Volunteer recruiter, following through with that intense stirring in me to be of service somehow. It seems the greatest need in my area is in disaster response. How we respond is important, being there for one another, holding hope when the other cannot.

I have been pulling invasives at home and planning the new garden at my son’s. (hmmm, now that sentence brings me pause. Is that what is happening in our world also? Have Invasive human lifestyles overrun our cultures, over-competing, wreaking havoc with the balanced ecosystem required for our innate human nature to flourish? Can we start over- plant a new garden? ). And I have been pausing each day for an hour of yoga and meditation, in an unexpected new symbiosis of mutual support that has unexpectedly developed in my desire to support my daughter, who offers these classes.

While cutting the butternut (an organic grown one I received from a local farmer) to roast for the risotto), I scooped out the seeds, laid them to dry on a towel in the warmth of the kitchen. These 2, food and seeds for the future, harvest and hope, struck me in that moment as an icon with which to pray, a prayer that is being whispered with my hands.

And now, as rambling and unedited as this morning free flowing jotting down of my thoughts might be, I’m going to leave it in chaos, not clean it up just yet—the garden is calling— trusting that it is a gift, both messy and blessed.

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