It’s good to know that with so many things in life we can just start over.
It’s the end of October here in Middle Texas, megatons of promised rain have failed to arrive, and we stand to lose 40 degrees tonight. Our gardens are looking positively autumnal, or our version of it anyway: still plenty of color, multitudes of flowers; but every day more dead leaves and bare stalks.
The very thought of cutting down the sidewalk garden makes me tired, but starting over means work and what good is a garden if it can’t remind you multiple times a year that you can always start over?
I’m writing this on the very brink of an election so important I’ve had a stomach ache about it for months. I know that people who approve of the current administration believe what they believe and no amount of data or rational thinking can change it. I myself am hoping we have a chance to start some things over.
At this writing 224,466 Americans and their families will have no opportunity to go back, start over, do things differently, or wish that a president for whom many people would walk through fire could have said what all the medical professionals said: take COVID-19 seriously; social distance; and wear a mask.
I myself personally have had no problems wearing a mask. That way no one can read my lips when I am silently berating the damn fool humans who make every adventure out in the world downright annoying. I also love not shopping. I also love hardly ever having to drive anywhere. So, other than worrying about my kids and grandkids, and feeling horrible for the people who are ill and dying and the people who take care of them, COVID-19 has mostly been a mere annoyance for the likes of me.
In early August I did, however, screw my courage to the wall and board a plane for LAX – which looks very strange when deserted. My girl Mary had at last been granted a date to begin again with a new shoulder, and I was going to help her. I know, it would mean seven weeks alongside the Pacific Ocean, but sacrifices must be made in difficult times, no?
It was weird to be unable to just say, Let’s go have lunch at the 22nd Street Landing, or Let’s go see what’s at Ross today. But we managed. Especially the lunch part.
Doesn’t everybody bring vintage embroidered linens to a picnic? My girl Mary, channeling Elizabeth David, certainly does.
Just as I believe resiliency is a critical component of survival, I believe finding beauty is a key factor in navigating truly ugly times. What else can you do, wallow in the nastiness?
Although I missed the first crop of night-blooming jasmine, my extended visit meant I would be there for the late-summer round. Knowing how I feel about NBJ, Mary clipped a sprig for my bedside. I had to move it to a spot behind the fan, as this perfume is powerful stuff. Especially coming from tiny flowers that don’t look like a heck of a much.
I think another important aspect of surviving difficult times is perspective. I am human enough to feel compassion for all the parents who’ve been thrust into three full-time jobs during the pandemic, but for reasons I can’t quite explain I keep thinking of Anne Frank and her family.
Cliffs and the sea are always good for perspective.
Mary and I wandered on foot and by car. One day I drove us down around the marina, where many boats large and small are moored. We waxed nostalgic about the days when San Pedro was a working port, very rough, very industrial. I don’t know how I feel about that rough town beginning again, but I suppose it’s a good thing all in all.
If I were a journalist, I would look up the history of that building. What happened there? Train tracks run through numerous buildings down at the old port. What are those angled chutes? And the animal heads?
In my imagination those maws are drains, so that floors could be washed with hoses, although I can’t really imagine multiple stories of seafood processing. Perhaps that’s because I dream of living in a house like that – where at least some of the rooms could be washed out with a hose now and then. Talk about a handy new beginning.
While I was away, two grandsons and my daughter helped keep the gardens watered and Travis walked. Tracy reported a bountiful harvest of passion flowers. I was relieved some of them waited for me. I finally thought to snip one and bring it into the house to photograph out of the wind.
Once home I also had to begin again on my Big Knitting Project, the blanket I should have knitted for my first grandson before he topped 6’4″. It is a very nice thing to have two hands to work with once more.
I envision being finished just before this blanket reaches the hallway.
Since I am forever nagging people to make art out of difficult experiences, it is only fair that I take my own advice. It’s a good time to paint wildly with a palette knife
a good time to return to the unbelievably sticky business of resin
and a very good time to try an entirely new medium: alcohol ink, again on a piece of Santorini marble.
It takes a certain amount of creativity to begin again. It takes some imagination and a willingness to take risks.
Sometimes all it takes is the desire to wash away the things that haven’t been working so well and clear a space for something better.