Sunday, March 29, 2020

Talking to Myself Fifteen

A Champion Black Oak in Pennsylvania

Talking to Myself Fifteen March 29, 2020

Every time I take the dog out
or walk around the house to
the backyard, I see the Champion
Black Oak laid low between 
Chloe’s house and ours. Two
years ago, also March, we hired
Mr. Tyndall to take it down. He
didn’t even write a contract.
He trusted us each to pay him
$900. Then Chloe ordered him 
to stop, get off her land. The 200-
year-old trunk and a few limbs
were all that was left. Her husband
was in ICU. She feared he would
die. I paid Mr. Tyndall the $900 I'd 
saved. Then for two years I worried
it might fall on my house. We’ll never 
know whether it would have, but,
finally, Red was hired, and he and
his helper cut it down. I watched
Red cut around the trunk and lay
it down on top of all the other
tree debris. Before Chloe lived
next door, Robert and Emma 
owned the champion, and Robert
promised he wouldn’t cut it down. 
Then he died, and Emma moved to 
town. I sent Chloe certified letters
which she refused. And talked to
her of our danger. The tree still
stood. Then I learned of a tree-
cutter who charged less than usual,
and Chloe hired Red. She was at
work, but Red came, and with a 
quiet elegance laid our champion 
on the ground. A sad demise, but I
didn’t lose my books and papers.
I watched it fall. Now we live 

with its inglorious remains.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Talking to Myself Fourteen

One of Judy's hens taken by John Ewing a few years ago.

Talking to Myself Fourteen March 22, 2020

Things here are the same, yet not the same.
I still sleep well, eat my healthy diet, draw
the hens to follow me, jugs of feed in my hands, 
out to the coop. While I take down the shutters,
they eat out of the jugs, then try to slip back
into the coop. I keep the rooster in view
because he jumps on me, beak out. Even 
through thick cloth, he draws blood. I take
them handfuls of chickweed while I hurry
out of their coop. The red bud tree is our own
burning bush. The forsythia has finished, and
the hydrangea’s leaves are trying again. Wag
and I have beaten a path to the back gate. I 
hurry her in before the hens escape. I make
the dinner and wash the dishes. I take my
daily walk in the front yard.Tim goes out to 
work, and I stay home. This corona flu bug
lurks for two weeks. We don’t know whether
we’ll get sick. “Stay away from the hospital,”
they tell us. "Call your provider.” It has been
ten days since I diagnosed myself to “shelter
in place.” My doctor works overtime with
sick people Not everyone gets real sick. Stay 
away from the hospital,” they tell us. "Elderly 
are most at risk. Stay home.” The wider
world changes, but this domestic life, not
much. They say it will be over in eight weeks

Let May come soon.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Talking to Myself Thirteen

Talking to Myself Thirteen March 15, 2020

While looking at a photo by Barry Udis in  the Joyful Jewel’s March Email

Colors strike me first, and they persist.
The deep blue of a lake among mountains
also dark blue, but the bright yellow green
of early spring between them, and far
in the distance blue hills. A scene
you could look at forever but seemingly
inaccessible. We can see it, even
recognize it at some level, but we can’t
go there. Access is forbidden. We have
only our eyes to bring it closer, to
imagine what a journey it might be to sit
beside such blue, to have that new green
all around us as if it were Spring’s blood, 
the gods’ ichor. Their blood isn’t red,
like ours, but exactly that penetrating
green that declares creation is first
and foremost–its grasses and trees–
a green you can’t forget.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Talking to Myself Twelve

Blue grosbeak at Dawn at Jordan Lake Dam by Doc Ellen

Talking to Myself Twelve March 8, 2020

Is my body finally accepting these
changes I learned in my physical
therapy lessons? Maybe. Yesterday
my left leg protested even walking.
Today hardly any pain. I’m doing
the exercises that are to be my
homework for the rest of my life. 
Will it make the pain go away? I 
was not a believer. I walked at
the dam with my son. He suggested
it, but it went well. I didn’t get so
tired. Maybe my body has adapted
to these new rules, and I can do them
with more confidence. Today we 
go on daylight savings time, but
it’s dark now. I can’t explain to my
dog that now yesterday’s six is 
today’s seven. True, it’s harder to
change habits when you’re eighty-
two, I’ve made many changes in
my life. I lived years without a cane, 
but it could save my life. I want to
live, not have my aging body start
running and no way to stop it until
I fall. So far, so good. I’m alive now. 

Let’s keep it that way.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Talking to Myself Eleven

                         Phalaenopsis (orchids) in early spring.

Talking to Myself Eleven  March 1, 2020

Titles elude me, and names, sometimes
today’s chores. I write things down so as
to remember them. Most return when I
need them, but not all. After four months
of physical therapy, meant to cure my
body’s impulse to run, I’m not cured. I
worried when Sophie didn’t respond to
my call, turned and ran toward where she
was sleeping, but I didn’t want to run. 
Fortunately, the refrigerator stopped me.
I hit my head but then I could walk
normally. If only it doesn’t happen again. 
I do try to walk heel first like they taught me,
but when I’m scared, I run. I don’t control
what scares me, but I can walk every day
and do the exercises, and use my cane when
I go very far. In this new year, I’ll turn 
eighty-three. I should be in better shape.
I thought I was. They thought I was. Give
myself credit. I’ve learned a lot, and my
body does well most of the time. It’s
another opportunity to show my courage

and do my best. That counts.