“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.”
I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.”
― Wendell Berry,
So far, it's been 6 months. We thought it would be 2, maybe 3 weeks. "No masks, no worries" morphed into "masks, hand sanitizers, distancing". Then they were on to bending the curve with quarantining followed closely by devastating economic suspension. Rules and regulations proliferated. Common sense ebbed. Fear flourished, confusion reigned, lives were turned upside down.
Meanwhile, our own daily routines remained relatively stable. We had no jobs to be furloughed; no children home from school. Our pantry is always stocked, our toilet paper stash was flush. We could cook, or fish; Joe could work on home repairs and I could work on the garden. And we could play pickleball. We made do with phone calls or emails or texts to family and friends. We all hated Coronavirus, and wished that it would be over soon.
Strategies for the future, at least as I remember, slowly evolved. Like the frog in a pot of water with the heat slowly turned up, we were eased into thinking the process needed another couple of weeks, then the rest of the month, or the maybe the summer, or the year. Vaccine teases were scattered throughout. "The Science" kept changing it's mind about when and where the danger lay. Meanwhile, numbers- regardless of whether they actually added up- were always rising.
What used to be normal now seems very far away. I really missed my children and grandchildren. I wished I could see my girlfriends at cards on Friday nights, or visit friends who were mourning a loss.
While the weeks of waiting dragged on, it dawned on me that I was beginning to wish away my whole life while wishing the Covid plague would end. But there's no dispensation for time lost; no guarantees this plague is the last; no pixie dust to make wishes come true. So I am following yet another route back to the beginning again. Pay attention! Count the blessings before you! Don't wait!
In June I went ahead and took the opportunity to visit Susan and Saultopaul a few months after Carl's death. I had not seen her or the farm in several years and I missed both. It was a two day drive across to western Georgia, punctuated by a stop at another Susan's in SC. We all prepared carefully, and had been living mostly isolated lives anyway.
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung himself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what should I have been doing?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
MARY OLIVER 1992