I’m still grieving for the lovely garden I left behind when I moved up here to the mountains. Of course, even a three-minute walk puts me in view of a meadow with a pond, of blue-green mountains with cloud shadows drifting across, of roadside chickory, Queen Anne’s lace, mullein, black-eyed Susans, daisies, and clover, and of fields of silky corn. And I’m a big believer in living someplace for the traditional year-and-a-day before doing much in the way of changing the land. But I did bring a few big pots up here with me and I do get a lot more sun, especially in front, than I ever used to get in my shady, woodland garden in the swampy lowlands.
It’s already late July and the growing season is shorter up here than it was in my old garden, but I stopped this week at a local nursery (End of Season Sale! Reduced Prices!) and bought herbs for my pots. Just the basics: rosemary, sage, two kinds of thyme, basil, mint. (They had lovely catmint, but I couldn’t carry any more pots. I may stop back there tomorrow. It’s an addiction.) We’ll see how they do, but it felt like heaven, felt as if I were finally really home to have my hands in the dirt, to be pouring water out of a watering can onto plants, to watch the local pollinators show up, eager for the feast.
Going through all my books was a big job, but it was fun, too. A local young man, an electrician’s helper, here to help install my lighting fixtures, looked at the shelves and said, “Have you read all of these books?” I’ve been asked that question before. How do you even begin to explain that the hundreds of books on your shelves are only a tiny fraction of the books that you’ve read? These were the ones I needed to keep in order to read again, to have available for ready reference, to remind me who I am. Because the books I’ve read are a really large part of who I am. You could go through the shelves and know me pretty well, sight unseen. I learned to read in a first grade class of 50 children, taught by Sister Michael Anthony in a downtown Alexandria Catholic school. She began by teaching us how the letter “S” sounds. It would be difficult for me to think of anyone who had a more profound impact on my life than that young woman who taught me how to read, almost six decades ago.
The news is full of horrible stories: a President and his party going full fascist here in America, just as the generation who defeated Hitler is passing away. We all have to do whatever we can to resist this madness. One way to do this is to prepare. If you are on the bus, or in a restaurant, or on the street and ICE shows up and begins to harass people, what can you do? We all know by now about going up to the person and pretending to know them, about whipping out our cell phones and recording what’s happening while loudly proclaiming, “The whole word is watching!” and about telling people their rights.
But could you do it? Would your knees tremble, would your voice crack, would you just slink away in fear? I would be afraid. Most of us would.
One way to deal with this is to prepare by doing role playing with friends. If you’ve rehearsed, then when ICE does show up, you can simply slip into your rehearsed role. Before you laugh, I’ll note that lawyers making four figures an hour do moot courts, over and over, before every oral argument. They pretend to be in front of the panel of judges and pretend to answer their questions and then their peers critique their performance. The do it for the same reason. You can do this with kids, too. Practice now and, if you never need to use it, well, at least you were prepared.
Picture found here.