A few years ago, I had my first-year research writing students work on the Martian rover missions for their end-of-semester projects. The assignment was a hit and listening to their presentations cemented my nostalgic, Johnny-5 style affection for Spirit and Opportunity.
The news hasn’t been talking about anything else for days and yesterday there were lines hundreds of people long as the government shops opened. The same lines (but different people) were still there at the end of the day.
The professional worriers chewed the skin off their own fingers weeks ago and were on the news again last night trying to chew on everybody else’s. I think things will be fine though.
Two different references kept bouncing through my head through it all. Neither is surprising or insightful as a reference, in the sense that me making them isn’t insightful or surprising. The two couldn’t be more different, but they’re both great and on topic, so voilà.
The first, Lana Del Ray’s “High by the Beach”:
The second, Kat Williams’s masterpiece of a comedy bit on weed:
The bugs are gone in the woods and there’s work to be done. So the Beav, me, his sister and her partner all went out to help his father saw two larch and one spruce into 16 foot 8×8 beams. Trees are heavy and it took all of us working levers longer than I’m tall to roll the trunks onto the mill one-by-one. It was good work though and, when we were done and the square beams were loaded onto the trailer, we were happy and felt we’d earned our dinner.
When this guy showed his face after the first cut on a larch trunk, I felt as if the forest spirits were real and we owed them a debt for the wood.
This spring my garden asked to become a pumpkin patch and I said “sure” because why not? Now months later, the skies are greying, the nights come earlier and earlier each day. It’s colder, frost has fallen more than once and the harvest is finally in.
Last year when my Mom visited for Thanksgiving—Canadian Thanksgiving, in October, not the American holiday in November—we decorated my newly rebuilt porch with strange pumpkins and squash. I fetched a birch log from the wood pile, and we had a holiday arrangement that looked good enough to keep around for weeks rather than days.
After the first freeze though, everything sagged. So I went out, collected the soft fruit and tossed everything in the garden. Winter came. Then this spring, I went out to turn the soil and everything had broken apart and come to pieces. I saw seeds, but ignored them. They sprouted though, and I’ve kept them all, pushing them back off the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and rhubarb, but otherwise giving them free rein to do what they’d like.
So now I have acorn squash, regular pumpkins, white pumpkins, very strangely shaped and bright red pumpkins. I have acorn squash, some kind of yellow squash I don’t recognize. Maybe more even. And they are growing everywhere, even on the fences, producing improbable fruit and it’s exciting and encouraging.
There’s wisdom in leaving things alone, letting them be.
The Templo de la Concepción in San Miguel de Allende is a dirty and battered little church nudged up against an old convent that’s been converted to an art school. The convent’s courtyard has comfortable chairs and avocado trees heavy with fruit. We read there most of a morning. The church though is a dreary spot.
Or would be if not for the shade tree that stands just beyond the thick wooden doors. People gather beneath it when the sun beats down, and that tree, reaching up around them, rings with the divine.
How much of how I feel about what’s going on in the US a product of feeling powerless in a way that tens of millions of people live with in the states all their lives. The country that is supposed to align with me, empowering me, has constricted the access to power to such an extent that there’s no reasonable way to assume I have any. I’m not a billionaire, not part of the American Caliphate.
People have lived like this for lifetimes. Just not me.