Sunday, July 23, 2017

An Island of Sanity and Love



My figs back in August 1911. Not quite so plentiful now, but they're coming along after hard freeze set-backs a few years ago.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 21 July 23, 2017

I want to root myself here, create an island of sanity and love around me, draw my children, grandchildren, and friends here to see me, and contribute as I can to my community. 
From my goals stated in 1996-2012

It will be nineteen years in December
that I have lived in this small house in
Moncure, with a garden, an orchard, and
a small flock of hens. I’d already then 
been given many gifts: by a banker, who 
outwitted the mortgage rules; by friends
who helped paint and weed-eat and
move a big pile of bricks, which became
my flower garden. Even before I moved
in, I joined the fight to stop a low-level
nuclear dump. We did stop it. Then we
stopped three attempts to site a landfill
and ended ten years of bad air pollution.
I worked to elect more careful county
commissioners, then to keep out fracking,
and since 2014, coal ash. This time
they pushed in before we could stop
them. It took a judge to halt that, but
they’re holding off our justice again. 
I hold steady, but more problems have
surfaced: my water heater quit; my 
heart began racing; now it’s high
heat warnings keeping me inside
while the weeds flourish. Yet people
turn up to help me: Mike, to challenge
the water heater’s diagnosis; Harold
to mow; Merle, bringing tomatoes
when my bushes stopped producing
shortly after they began. Then two
men from my electric coop, got
the water heater back on track. Many
helpers when I needed them. Everyone
has annoying problems, but I’m older;
so is my water heater and my farm.
Despite unruly weeds and heat, 
the figs, grapes, and apples are plentiful. 
Some rain would help, and cooler weather.
All this help puzzles me, though I’m very
grateful. Then it hits me. I wanted to
create an island of sanity and love. Looks
like I did, despite the weeds, my aging
body and what belongs to me. The big
world does grow more difficult, but in my 
world there definitely is sanity and love.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

You can't have enough courage


Full summer, flowers and brownies, 2010.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 20  July 16, 2017

Even if the brakes are being put on
slowly, we know the end of our lives
will come. We can’t be blithe as
once; yet we can live as normally
and joyfully as possible. The doctors
are not worried. Their tests reassure
them that my heart jumping around 
and out of its steady rhythm for an 
hour can be lived with. For me it is
an unmistakable sign to pay attention:
walk, yes; work, write, dig. See to 
the hens, mow and weed-eat; lead
my village in the fight to stop a 
coal ash dump, but rest and eat
well, stay alert, respect the signs
as you accumulate years. You 
can’t have enough courage or of
the vision that shows you your way, 
a step at a time. You’re still here,
aren’t you? Still thriving, loving
those who let you, filling each
day with work completed? Your
conscience is clear; you see all
too well into the hearts of others

whether they imagine yours or not.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

If Need Be, You Win Again and Again


Zinnias on my kitchen table in August 2011, after Hurricane Irene.

Those Eternally Linked Lives 19  July 9, 2017

Evil men are doing harm,
but we will stop them, one at a time.
When you have justice on your side,
sooner or later you win, and if need
be, you win again and again. 
–Those Eternally Linked Lives 11

I knew, when I wished to live
a long time, that, as I approached
a hundred years, living would
become more difficult. Even as
my body ages well, it is more
vulnerable, needs more care,
its regular exercise, healthy diet,
and for its sleep budget to be
balanced. I have my commitments
I can’t say no to, for myself and
my writings, for my children and
friends, and for my community
here in Moncure. It has always
been a balancing act–never moreso
than now. I hold my own, but it
takes more ingenuity to outwit 
my gradual aging and the deadly
poisons let loose in our twenty-first
century world, out to kill us and
destroy our hope. The answer is 
simple and obvious: in our deep
souls we know we can’t be seriously
harmed if we refuse despair. Insights
will arrive. Courage will appear
against the odds. The grain of the
universe doesn’t go away. Furthermore
other people gather around us, one 
at a time. If we ask, we receive, and
not infrequently, we receive the help
we need before we ask.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hope Over Fear


This photo of my figs from August 2011, after Hurricane Irene

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 18 July 2, 2017

"Every single day, we need to choose hope over fear, and diversity over division.
Fear has never fed a family nor created a single job.
And those who exploit it will never solve the problems that have created such anxiety."
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
in address to UN --From Louise Penny’s July 1, 2017 NL

From childhood you were sheltered
and nourished by a grace mysterious
and never named, but it opened 
doors most people never see or 
if they do, fear to open. –Those Eternally Linked Lives 6

In all this growth of green–vines, grasses,
fig leaves and tiny figs, the tall swaying
tulip tree, the grass I need to cut, the iris
and daylilies holding their own against
bamboo grass–where is the grace that will
hold me steady on my own course, the one
I chose, not going against the universe’s
grain, but having to tolerate fear in others
for me and hatred when I succeed; even awe
when I defy the doctors’ wisdom. How 
can I be still young, my flesh still firm; my 
heart holding its own. Banishing fear has 
become a habit. Every time I outwit other
people’s worries, I stand taller in my own
view. All it takes is courage, helping those
who let me, and taking in gratefully those
loving hands that give me a reason 
to stay alive.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hang On For A Rough Ride


Those Eternally Linked Lives 17 June 25, 2017

The tallest tree–the tulip–shimmers in
a world of green. Vines climb the fences.
My flower garden weeds are three feet
high, the annuals higher. Daylilies had
to fight off bamboo grass. The figs have
so many leaves I can’t see the dead 
branches, and I know those infant knobs
are swelling. A day finally dawned without
rain. Soon I can mow, and tackle the
high weeds. The hens took it all in stride.
Muddy, bedraggled feathers were clean
and white again when the new day arrived.
Even in human beings life renews itself.
Sleep heals; dreams restore our cells and 
our souls. We are new again every day.
One look out the window, and we know
what we have to do. This life is not for
the faint of heart. We let go only what
we must; hang on for a rough ride, remount
our courage and listen to our hearts. It’s 
the only way to stay whole and keep our 
true Selves in tact until we die and see 
that Death is still some distance off.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Light Always Finds Me Sooner or Later

Early spring, 2011, thyme in bloom, and oregano behind it.

***
Those Eternally Linked Lives 16  June 18, 2017

It rains, and green surges. Again I can’t
keep up. I engage with deeply rooted
weeds and mud. The work I need to do
is everywhere visible. The orchid is casting
its blooms. Ten months until they come
again. Human effort feels so small against
that tide of growth. Simple sun and rain
send green hurtling forward. Sweetgum
stars obscure my view out the window.
Yet the self-heal blooms; the daylilies
make each day new. Later too much heat
will slow things down. Wet soil helps
me yank out the worst weeds. The hens
are happy, making their straw into new
nests, the wet earth sending more bugs
to the surface. Sometimes it’s hard
when so much is up to me. Yet I flourish,
walk, eat, and sleep well; thread my way
through difficulties; ask help; do my
part as the days allow. When I can’t
see very far ahead, I hold on. I’ve
been in so many dark places before.
Light always finds me sooner or later
if I keep myself from despair.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Such Intangible Communion


At Judy's book party, but notice the Finnish hand-crafted bird.

****
Those Eternally Linked Lives 15  June 11, 2017

We each had a hand-crafted Finnish bird–
mid-flight. Snow goose or swan? You bought
two. One for me in my village; one for your
apartment in town, which I saw when we 
drove home from your village. You had been
cruel and angry, only a little less as we
traveled. That day the bird told me everything
I needed to know. It still does now that I
live in another house, another village. Sometimes
what’s tangible reinforces what we can’t
touch or know with absolute uncertainty.
Belief is all we have and then that knowledge
that makes proof irrelevant–some direct
seeing that passes all the roadblocks and
doubts. Of course there are skeptics and
sometimes we’re assailed by doubts, too.
But the bird persists. One look reminds
us. You’re not there in your town or village 
any more, but this bird here has its 
continuing message as it moves in the
fan’s wind: “I’m still here. I’m inside you.
Heart to heart is what matters.” For us
that part was easy. The hard part was
opening such a truth to other people
when they can’t imagine 
such intangible communion.