As for Quiet Me?
As promised, winter ended less than three weeks ago and now we are fully into summer. I’ve been visiting this northern spot for the entire length of my quarter century marriage, but until living here, I could not quite grasp the uniqueness of how quickly winter changes over to summer. This year, after a mere seven days of spring. And now, we’ll spend the next ten weeks doing our best not to blink for fear of missing a moment of these perfect summer days.
Everything is green and lush, conifers showing exceptional new growth this year, which makes up for the modest apple blossom display (it’s okay, last year was such a banner apple year most people put up enough for two years). The days are laborious, fueled by quart after quart of water and just enough food to keep it all going. There isn’t much time to make a big fuss out of mealtime. The gardener’s waltz of dashing rain storms and black flies has begun. There is no planting by the moon here, there is only plant-whenever-you-can because the season is too short to depend on perfect planting conditions during a single moon cycle. The garden is humming along, receiving hundreds of plants as weather allows.
We have enjoyed the return of songbirds, the peepers are symphonic, wild edibles poke through the forest floor. In the early springtime evenings, on the way to lock up the chicken coop, we are treated to the unusual sounds and acrobatic displays of our resident woodcock. He is such an entertainer, that many evenings find us at the picnic table, pausing to listen to his distinct sound and watch his spiral flight path against the evening sky. He shows impressive effort when it comes to wooing the ladies, almost rivaling the dedicated strut of Tom turkeys.
Occasionally we venture out for a drive, always encountering wildlife which feels like an undeserved bonus to the purple-orange sunsets over verdant mountains: moose, bear, rabbit, turkey. Such riches! It feels garish to observe such perfection from the confines of a clunky automobile, but it cannot be helped, it is just the nature of taking a drive for ice cream around here.
Our daughter has graduated from college. Despite there being no ceremony, no family gatherings, no celebrations with her friends, no fanfare whatsoever, we are incredibly proud of her achievements. It is part of our family culture to raise our children to adulthood, including college or vocational training of some kind. Our only request of her was that she milk every available drop of opportunity out of the overpriced system, and she did. Most of the time we never knew which courses she was taking, they seemed secondary to her debate teaching and competing travels around the world, her study abroad, her published work, her honors thesis, her work with and advocacy for imprisoned women, her political campaign work and subsequent senatorial internship. Even with all of that, my favorite part of her college experience has been watching the incredible relationships she has formed along the way. I cannot imagine collecting a more wonderful group of friends (including professors who are now friends) than she has over these last four years. Overall, she leaves college with a collection of experiences and riches that transcend the limited potential of a textbook.
She is now settling into this new chapter of life during a global pandemic, working virtually from northern Vermont for an institute located in Washington DC. This arrangement is not exactly what she envisioned for herself, but I am selfishly enjoying the geographic change of plans.
The world is hard right now. No, that's not right. It’s always hard for many, it is just being filmed now for all to see. I am witnessing things that my skin color prevents me from experiencing. I don’t know how to fix it, how to make the oppression stop. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said by a thousand memes. Social media saviors have indicated we’re all saying the wrong things anyway. They also say it is wrong to say nothing. No matter what you do, no matter what you say, it’s wrong. It would be a mistake to view the five minutes I spend posting on social media each day as an indication of my remaining 1,435 minutes. I have not raged publicly, but in silence I donate money and applaud establishments brave enough to sever contracts with those who perpetrate brutality and murder. I know exactly who the real looters in this country are. I check in on friends with black and brown skin. I get up at 2 am to write because honestly, who can sleep right now?
If you know someone who still does not understand why specifically Black Lives Matter, please show them this four minute clip.
As for quiet me?
I donate. I check in. I feed my family. I wash the dishes. I light the fire. I check in. I donate.