“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” –Walt Whitman, quoted in Brainpickings
We used to go away, now we don’t go, we stay where we are, in stasis, mourn what was, embrace what is, forlorn–
but then comes a day, when we go not to stay, but to glory in the glow of autumn, amber light, and honeyed hues
well, wouldn’t you? If given a chance, bears from hibernation spring, if only temporarily– because I fear what winter will bring.
So, we drive over the bridge, as in days before, then masked, and with some hesitation, and trepidation, that gives way to elation—
because we’re seeing something new, a perfect day to stroll through seasonal gardens where flowers still bloom and bees buzz and butterflies flutter, birds chirp, squirrels stutter
in indignation, as we walk through Peirce’s Woods and in the meadow golden-bright to the manmade lake where we reflect in reflected light
on all the beauty we’re fortunate to see a special outing, a few hours to forget hate and plague, and all the vague anxiety
that hovers in the air, for once unaware, we laugh relax, eat, find a retreat–a poetic conceit perhaps, but for a time, we’re OK, and all is fine.
We went to Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA–about an hour away from our house in south Jersey. (You have to buy tickets in advance for a particular day and time.) We haven’t really gone anywhere, except for a few local wineries, where we can sit outdoors and far apart from others. Before we went, we got our flu shots at our local CVS, and that was the first time I had been inside the store since March. I felt a bit of panic. And at Longwood Gardens, it was strange to be among so many people—though mostly at a safe distance and masked. It was so good to see something different, and we picked a perfect autumn day. Of course, the mood was spoiled a bit because of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I turned off NPR for awhile.
I’m linking this to Robin of “Breezes at Dawn”’s Walktober. For those who don’t follow my blog, my usual, almost daily walk, is at Red Bank Battlefield, usually early in the morning. Below see some of the beauty that I experience there. Before the Covid Crisis hit, we went into Philadelphia almost every week, often taking public transportation. I think we last did that in February.
And a PS–Merril’s Movie Club: We watched The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s on Netflix, and it’s enjoyable and timely. Fans of The West Wing, Sorkin even manages to get in a few walk and talks. 😏
“But something next to normal would be okay Yeah, something next to normal That’s the thing I’d like to try Close enough to normal to get by” –“Maybe (Next to Normal)” from Next to Normal (2008) book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt.
The world is upside down, but still the morning sky sings, brings comfort to my soul, wings
away the swirling thoughts from me, a body in motion is not stopped, so free of notions,
and anger, emotions may fly away, but beauty, makes me stop and stay
a body at rest, (breathe) for a while, recharged, hopes expanded, vision enlarged
to see this is but one piece as time flows on, history is past, and will we learn, we’re often asked—
perhaps, or not, the world goes on, the sun still shines the geese still fly in V-shaped lines
and deer graze and gambol whether I’m there to amble by the riverside, the river bides (with me, I see)
though its course may change, it carries still, cargo and dreams, while over it the heron soars—
not mine or yours, it endures sensing how the wind blows, but what does it think, who knows?
Not to oversimply, I wonder what it’s like to fly, but their survival is also fraught
but uncaught, I understand. Yet as the woman sang, something next to normal, would be grand,
as I listen to insanity, the bizarre upheld, I long for those in power to be felled
and for the robot followers to waken to be shaken by the horror they uphold.
It won’t happen, they’ll deny, believe the lies again and again,
but someday, I don’t know when I have to believe, things will change again– and meanwhile,
I’ll walk by the river in hope that nature’s cure will ease my soul to bring me peace, one thing I can control
a tiny piece in this crazy world, where lunacy is the new normal, unfurled like a banner—well, I see those flags waved,
and crowds like those with arms in straight salute the past reborn, without jackboots, at least not yet, but you can’t refute
the similarities. Despots are all the same, and fanatics, too. What’s in a name? They’ve lived through the ages on history’s pages . I hope this time, they are soon confined, I won’t give up hope, nor bind myself to evil,
but listen for a laugh that echoes still in my heart, it always will, speaking of survival–and until
and if we meet again, perhaps the world will be next to normal then.
We didn’t go anywhere this week, but we had an at home theater night. We ate nachos and watched the Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normalon Saturday night– which appropriately for the theme of the show was World Mental Health Day. It was a production done a few years ago by the Arden Theater in Philadelphia, and because we’re subscribers, we were given a free link to stream a video of the production. It’s a moving story, as a woman grapples with her mental illness and her family also tries to cope, but there are also some laugh out loud moments. Here are the nachos and dinner from the night before, homemade naan and channa masala.
We watched the Netflix show Away. We renamed it, “This is Us in Space.” I was sobbing at episode five. It was enjoyable, in the way of a beach book. 😏 We also started the Netflix series, Haunting of Bly Manor. I liked the first two episodes, though the lead-in seemed a bit contrived. It’s the kind of horror I like, not splatter gore, but subtle. It’s based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw. But if you ever get to see the 1961 film, The Innocents, also based on that story, it’s excellent. It doesn’t seem to be available to stream in the U.S. right now.
Ineffable, the word lingers from my dream almost visible–
how to describe the dream state, a word floats in the air—
almost visible, liminal, the world of in-between.
Ineffable, the world today, inconceivable
that we let it happen— the naked emperor rules, the fools see what they want to see
despite fire, plague the flaming hate and the ceaseless lies
rekindling the blood libel, as the full moon hums fiercely in warning, in horror
we look on, but also, ineffable
the beauty of lunar shimmer and morning glow
of herons and deer and the serenity of the river flowing on
carrying ghosts and memories, in its currents time bends, reflecting and refracting
the past merges with the future, till it, too, is ineffable.
I did wake up today with the work ineffable floating in my head. We didn’t go anywhere this week, but historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American email today reminded me of all the events that have happened within the past week—”It was only last Sunday– seven days ago– that the New York Times released information about Trump’s taxes. Since then, we’ve lived through Tuesday’s debate and the wildfire spread of coronavirus through the inner circle of the White House, along with other stories that would have crippled any other administration but that now pass by with hardly a ripple.” My morning walks and talking to loved ones is keeping me sane.
We ordered Chinese food this weekend and watched two Merril movies: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (on Netflix) and A White White Day, an Icelandic movie available to rent on Amazon Prime and other platforms. I liked both of them more than my husband did, but they are both movies I’m still thinking about. The actor who plays the main character in A White White Day is so compelling, and his granddaughter is very cute. I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is a Charlie Kaufman film, so if you’ve seen his other movies, you know this will not be straightforward. There’s also a connection to Fargo, the TV show, not the movie. Jessie Buckley who plays the young woman in the movie, is in the new season, and her co-star, Jesse Plemons, was in an earlier season, as was David Thewlis, who plays his father. We’ve watched the first two episodes of the new season of Fargo, which is set in 1960 Kansas City, and we both like it so far.
I’m hosting dVerse today, so I’ll be back later. 😏
Sunrise and Clouds, Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ
I dream of eagles
soaring high, circling in the cerulean sky
over the rippling river, rushing
away from life’s ferocious frosts and fevers,
the fripperies, the vain vagaries of the villain
the anxiety, angst, and annoyances of the now.
The forests moan,
the seas seethe,
we mourn mothers, grandmothers—
and wisdom withered, lost forever,
but passed along
are rituals, even as new ones
are created in novel circumstances–
in strange new worlds
we recreate, renovate, and originate—
old and new combine, migrants
citizens of settled worlds. No need
to fly south, or north, east, west—
until the predators come, once again.
Still, the sun rises, rousing us with repeated rhythms,
the familiar and the strange merge in each day,
a deer leaps over a fence in front of you,
You never know who you’ll see during a morning walk.
a flower blooms where there was nothing the day before,
the geese honk, rise in synchronized rhythm,
to settle, sailing further down the river, both seeming endless,
and over them, the eagles soar, sharp-clawed, fierce,
but mated for life, dancing in the air,
the way we can only dream of,
and yet, I’m rooted
like the giant oak, my branches spread wide, sheltering
my dreams and memories
that fall, scattered
like acorns, perhaps carried to new places,
to grow and live again.
It’s been a strange week or so—or perhaps a strange few months. Last week began with the anniversary of my mom’s birth. Everything is so unsettled. We never gave her a real memorial, but I did bake a chocolate cake (her favorite), and we had a virtual dinner with our daughters with a meal I thought she would have liked, lasagna, garlic bread, and good bottle of wine I’d been saving.
We had days that went from sun to storms, sometimes within a few minutes. Then yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful, and my mood was much better, too. We went to Hillcreek Farm, where they opened a wine garden—reservations required to limit the number of people, and the servers were masked, as were we when we left the table.
I can’t get the spacing right, and I can’t spend any more time on this today. Sorry!
Auburn Roads Vineyards Wine Garden at Hillcreek Farm
and the silvery shimmer of the moon,
pale blue and green,
and when I wish upon the ghost glow
of a thousand stars
I feel the dust of dreams
within and without,
as feathers fly from the sky
to land at my feet in trails of white light
silent, at rest,
bits of something larger, still soaring.
A late edition of my Monday musings. I think Jane and I challenged each other to use the Love set of tiles from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. The Oracle and I once again collaborated, with more inspiration from my morning walks.
I’ve been baking with summer fruit, but I do indeed have a chocolate stash.
My husband built this M&M dispenser. I won’t fill it, but I will eat them. 😏
French Blueberry Cake
Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Radioactive (Amazon Prime, 2020), a new movie about Marie Curie. I wanted this to be wonderful, but it wasn’t. It was OK, but she was such a brilliant woman, and this, sadly, is not a movie that shines. We also watched Straight Up(Netflix), a sort of rom com where a young man who may be gay, but isn’t sure, finds his soul mate is a woman. It was enjoyable, but not great.
So we went back to darker stuff: we started watching Bordertown, a Finnish series on Netflix. So far, it’s very good. I like “Scandi-noir,” and shows that explore family life as well as the crimes.
Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River
Monday Morning Musings:
“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”
–James Baldwin, “Nothing is Fixed,” quoted on Brainpickings, where you can also listen to his words set to music.
A constant, the sun rises and sets
to the left of my window in summer, to the right in winter
ever shifting, as we rotate and spin, never fixed
the light changes, shining through clouds and trees
reflected on rivers and sea
and prismed in a sprinkler’s passage, never fixed
Sprinkler rainbow and puddle reflection
the birds fly, the flowers bloom, fall, drop their sees, and grow again
the snapping turtle’s slow crawl, the gracile deer’s leap into the shadows
they pause, then move, live, then die, never fixed
Maybe a snapping turtle? I saw him on the side of the road by the river during a morning walk.
as the moon moves through her phases,
do you hear her fiercely humming?
Reminding us in silvered streams, never fixed,
our stories. We choose to sit or fight
against the dying of the light
to witness gleaming through the cracks, never fixed,
forever light comes from stars extinguished
we see it, or we don’t.
My shadow reflecting–light and shadows
This has been a difficult week for the world, though it is also been inspiring in some ways.
Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Just Mercy, which is streaming free (in the U.S) during the month of June. I was afraid it would be a sort of feel good Hollywood movie, but both my husband and I thought it was a good movie with excellent acting. There are additional facts and statistics at the end. We also watched Uncut Gems, which was good in a different way. It’s available on Netflix now.
I’ve written about the musical Ragtime before. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and it seems particularly relevant during this presidency, and right now, the song, “Make Them Hear You” resonates. Here is Ricky the Cat listening to it. (And yes, I may have made him a little bed by my computer.)
Summery steam rises in air that’s sticky and thick,
and the sky darkens, the clouds turn black,
as the stormy wind enters, blows pages from their stack,
I close the window when the rain comes—plothering, not pitter-pat,
there’s thunder and lightning, and gusts that sway the trees about–
then the power goes out—
the temperature falls and rises again, the rain clouds part,
and through them, the sun casts a glow
across the sky–look, a double rainbow.
Rainbow at Pitman Golf Club, Pitman, NJ June 2020
For Sarah’s rain prompt on dVerse. Earlier this morning, my husband saw this rainbow at the golf course where he’s working. Later, we got a severe thunderstorm, and our power went out, but it’s been restored. So, I reversed the order for the poem.