It is the longest day of the year, the first official day of summer on the modern calendar. In a couple of hours, my three friends will join me in a summer solstice celebration. We will have a bonfire behind my house, share some readings, reminisce, and enjoy each other’s company as we have for many summer solstices. We all agree that the most memorable summer solstice was during our trip to Ireland in 2017 when visited Ballyvaughan small town in county Claire on the W. coast of Ireland. There we gathered with the locals in their church with a rousing celebration of songs and readings, a memory that still resounds within me to this day.
The Summer Solstice is when the earth is tilted closest to the sun during its orbit, Midsummer, as it is referred to in the northern climes, the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream when magical things can happen..
I was looking for a reading for tonight when I wrote this poem.
November 2016 when our current “Toddler in Chief” was elected president was a dark time for the United States. We have continued our plunge into more darkness since then. The only good thing that came out of it for me was that I started writing- copiusly. This blog was born soon after in January of 2017. I knew nothing about blogging but just started to blog because I had to. Some 412 followers later I went back to some of those original posts when I had no readers, let alone any followers.
These two poems still apply now, when George Floyd, a black citizen was brutally murdered by a police officer for no reason this last week. The resulting protests and violence is a symbol of our country having enough- of racism, inequality, Covid 19, and the policies of our 45th president. Out of the ashes comes new beginnings. Let’s hope it’s soon.
Today I bought myself a 12 oz package of coffee from our local coffee roaster in town, Caravan coffee. They have hands down the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted but I rarely indulge as I need to stick on a budget. But today after my weekly Tuesday grocery trip bedecked in mask and gloves, instead of going home I turned my car around and headed toward the coffee roasters. I needed a psychological boost, if even a small one, during this craziness that Covid 19 has brought upon us.
I parked the car, headed into the tiny lobby, and selected my blend suggested by the barista. She asked me if I wanted the courtesy cup of coffee that goes with any coffee purchase and I accepted, of course. My purchase total was $16 for the 12 oz. package of coffee, roughly double what I usually spend in the grocery store, but today no matter. There was no inner gasp or eye blink. This was an “I am so worth this and you have been doing such a great job you go girl” moment.
Seated back in my car I sipped my organic, single-origin, recently roasted & fresh from the grinder cup of coffee. I paused, closed my eyes as the rich steaming, liquid infused my tongue with a complexity of flavors that did cartwheels in my head all the way home. If I were a dog I’d have been in a full tail wag..
There is 12 oz. more of this black magic now stored in my cupboard. It’s not a cure for the coronavirus but for $16 it’s a fabulous cure for the Covid blues. Sometimes you just need to reward yourself during tough times. Go do it. You’re worth it.
This is a departure from my usual content. I just posted this on my other blog, One Sweet Earth but I thought it might be of interest to my readers here with an added poem…
I have always been fascinated with the unseen world of nature that exists beneath our feet or is too small for our eyes to see. Some years back on a forest field trip for my 6th-grade science students, the guide pointed out small mounds covered with small bits of debris on the muddy parts of the forest floor. I’d seen these before, never giving them much thought. “Those are earthworm middens,” she said. HUH? How did in all my years of natural science and ecology did I miss this one?
The guide informed us that earthworm middens are the entrances of earthworm burrows. The reason they are built up like little volcanos is they pile their casings (poo) outside and alternately store bits of organic material at the entrance to later come up and feed upon. In January I came upon in one in the yard with a magnolia leaf sticking straight up from the entrance like a rock from Stonehenge. It appeared that this leaf was too large, tough for this worm to manage.
This is a rehash of a post from 2018 with some new modifications for the times…
It shouldn’t be that difficult. Most people open their eyes, pop out of bed, and voila!- on with their day. For me, making the transition from Dreamtime to wakefulness is a sacred ritual. This can sometimes take up to an hour. Even when I was working full-time I always allowed some time for this. Now with COVID 19 & sheltering in place, there seem to be no people to be held accountable to, nor yoga or pool schedule to meet and no medical appointments. Now I am left up to my own motivation. It’s gotten to be more difficult not to be tempted to sleep in.
First step- avoid reading or listening to the news. I fail to see the point of starting the day feeling depressed. It’s curated to produce nightmares. (Plus, there is a dearth of good news to be had even though I know it exists.) My phone is in silent mode or better yet turned off.
Place my 15-year-old dog, Bandit on the bed. He makes me smile. Then have to free the “wild hamsters” that populate my head and if I don’t get rid of them my day seems chaotic. Essential to that process is to brew a cup of tea, heat up my “hottie” for my tight back, and do a quick meditation.
I spend a few minutes in my planner thinking about my goals for the day or week. I have been finding that scheduling joy into my day can really help to keep the lonely demons away. Anything from reading a good book, walking the dog, gardening, phoning a friend, or watching a movie IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Then onto my journal where I may write anything that’s been lurking in my mind, a poem. Finally, I add a funny daily doodle in my planner for fun.
Now I am ready to transition from human being to more of a human doing with a foundation of centeredness that I hope to carry with me throughout my day.
Next step- remove body from bed and get to living in this simplified yet complicated world.
I don’t have anything to write about today but say, you should really see the Hawthorne tree in the driveway bursting forth into a blaze of magenta blooms and how about those pie pan size exploding pink peonies on the kitchen table that Mary brought over as a May Day treat from her garden, eye-catching saffron-colored bundles of stamens and pistils in their midst.
I don’t have anything to write about today but the blaze in the woodstove on this chilly May morning cheers me, as well as the news that Raymond saw a pair of scarlet tanagers in the trees by the west fence line! I haven’t seen tanagers in years around this place- so exciting to know they are still around. They must be migrating through. I wonder where they go? And darn, wouldn’t you know that we have a pair of ground squirrels that moved in and are making a fine Swiss cheese mess of the yard along with the huge party of voles living below ground.
I don’t have anything to write about today but wow- all of a sudden the lettuce is big enough to pick in the garden along with some kale and chard and even a few snow peas to throw in the evening’s salad and I’m so excited about the flower seeds I started that are almost ready to plant. The vegetable garden will be so colorful this summer!
Back to birds, the black-headed grosbeaks returned to the feeder and will probably stay to nest in the yard. Oops, the hummingbird feeder is empty.
Also blogging about living sustainably and making nature your friend at One Sweet Earth
There are many species of birds around the acreage of our country home. I feed them and provide some housing but some find shelter in unlikely places. Recently at dusk, we spotted an avian form fly down and slip through a crack in the slats of our well-house. “That better not be another starling, “I remarked. Starlings harass the native birds and we often block their nesting sites. We investigated but could not see in the dark recesses. With a gooseneck flashlight made for engine repair, I spied a female nuthatch sitting on her nest looking up at our invasive bright light…
On this, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, consider this…
Most of us are taught when we are young:
It is better to give than to receive
Don’t be greedy – leave some for others
Be a good neighbor
These principles seem to apply except when it comes to the earth we live on. Our culture looks to nature as something to devour rather than something to honor and celebrate. Consider the term “natural resources” rather than “natural gifts.” As our society has lost its connection to the land, the messages we are given now are:
Profit trumps sustainability and the well being of our fellow species
Increasing consumption not thinking about environmental consequences
Gross national product vs gross national happiness & health
We shrug our shoulders about Climate Change, the great garbage patches in the ocean, microplastics in the water supply, mass extinctions of species, loss of our forests, clean air, and clean water. It’s uncomfortable to think about. It’s too big. Someone else will take care of it. Actually no and for certain, apathy will not.
Let’s just start over, look back to the resolve we had at the New Year and reframe those goals and hopes into the context of Covid 19. They may still apply- but if they don’t, convert them into something simpler, kinder, from lofty accomplishments to simply a better state of mind. My word I set for the year 2020 was “acceptance”, still so applicable but now I am thinking about it in different contexts than I originally intended
At first, I thought that was lowering the bar, but maybe for our culture by slowing down and taking time to reflect we have somehow raised the bar to what’s really important?
Being happy with what you’ve got
Taking good care of yourself and family
Reaching out to others in need
Unwinding ourselves to the forces beyond our control