Saturday surprise

0806 Molly and family in courtyard

 

This morning we had a Mother Mallard and twelve ducklings walking around our enclosed courtyard. She must have started nesting about March 25, and completely eluded us. We think it’s the same duck who has nested in our courtyard three previous years, though, because she readily let us guide her through the building and out the front door. Never a dull moment in the Daughters of Charity.

0819-2 Molly and her little dozen

0819-3 Molly lobby

0820-1 Long journey

0820-a Made it

0821-b There is another way

 

 

Because I live where I live

view from above March 30

Star Magnolias in bloom, and green beginning to show in the garden.

I live in one room on one hall in one wing in this large complex.  In other wings, we have the community archives, a skilled care facility for the general population,  single apartments for local senior citizens, our retirement home for our sisters, and a variety of other things.

I live in a community with six other sisters.  Three of us are in our seventies, and three in their eighties.

So, death visits our house several times a year.   But last evening , we had two in a row.  One sailed off on the Sea of Faith at 10PM, and the other, about 4AM.  Neither of them from Covid19.

Blessedly, that has not reached our house yet.

But these deaths do give me pause, even as Spring arrives.

here’s a poem from Wang Wei:

“O Day after day we can’t help growing older.
Year after year spring can’t help seeming younger.
Come let’s enjoy our winecup today,
Nor pity the flowers fallen.”


–  Wang Wei, On Parting with Spring  

 

Daffodils Gside March 12 2020

 

The Lentiest Lent

the lentiest lent

The governor of my state ( Maryland USA)  issued a “Stay Home” order last night.  So we join a number of other states in this.  Coronavirus cases are growing here, but nothing compared to other places in the country.

Meanwhile, here is an appropriate poem written by William Carlos Williams in the early 20th century:

Spring and All (I)

By William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken

 

 

 

Pachamama

pachamama TeklaU

art by TeklaU

 

 

The greening of the lawns, which I can see from my bedroom window, as well as the Spring Equinox, make me think of all the artistic renderings of Mother Earth.

Today I am especially reflecting on Pachamama.  I didn’t even know of her existence until Jennifer Heath, in her wonderful book The Echoing Green: The Garden in Myth and Memory,  spoke of her.

pachamama

 

from The Goddess Garden website:

Pachamama is a fertility goddess, originating from the ancient Inca, the indigenous people who inhabited the Andes mountains. In the indigenous Quechua language, Pachamama (also known as Mama Pacha) translates as Mother Earth or Mother Cosmos. In other cultures, she is referred to as Gaia and Mother Earth. She oversees life by nourishing and protecting it’s inhabitants, her children. She is still an important aspect of religion in Peru today. Andean people believe strongly in the importance of living in harmony with nature and not taking too much from her. When she is disrespected, it is believed that problems will arise, such as earthquakes.

To ensure Pachamama looked favorably upon them, the Inca people made regular offerings to her. This is known as pago a la tierra (payment to the earth). These ceremonies are still performed today, and consist of offerings of traditional items such as coca leaves, huayruro seeds, and chicha (a corn beer). Shrines for Pachamama are made from hallowed rocks, or the trunks of significant trees. Artists depict her as an adult female bearing harvests of potatoes and coca leaves.

pachamama-arianna-ruffinengo

art by arianna ruffinengo

Keeping Quiet

from a day in the life retired gardener

 

Today, on this rainy Saturday, this poem by Pablo Neruda spoke to me:

Keeping Quiet — by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
.
(Translation by Alistair Reed)

Garden door from Guardian of the woods

This Spring let the world keep out

 

 

tulips

Here’s an appropriate poem by Ruth Lechlitner:

 

 

Ruth Lechlitner     Forever This Spring      Published: The New Masses, March 14, 1939.

 

This Spring let the world keep out, we said, alone

Our feet to the path over the woodmint,

The red-tipped moss, and ours the single flower

Lovely under stone.

 

But here before us the hazel boughs are broken,

The coiled fern flattened by the invader’s heel,

The hot spoor on the crushed leaf marking the course

That terror has taken.

 

When buds split and willow strikes like a whip at the heart,

When the hard fire at earth’s core rolls

In green flame against the destroyers

How shall we walk apart?

 

The defenders too are among us; those who command

The blade of the quick fern, pattern the changing season,

Reshape the leaf and bind the bough

With a healer’s hand;

 

And those who have fallen are with us; they shall inherit

Forever this, Spring when the stars of bloodroot burn,

When light draws from the shadow of running water

The promised violet.

 

Star Magnolia photo by Randy Lyons

Star Magnolia   photo by Randy Lyons

 

 

we would all be together in a sudden strangeness

With all the closures all over the world, in efforts to contain the spread of Covid 19, frightening things are happening.  Surprising things, too.  I just heard that the previously filthy canals in Venice and sparkling with clear water.

venice canal clear

Here’s a poem by Pablo Neruda:

Keeping Quiet — by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
.
(Translation by Alistair Reed)

 

venice

 

 

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

in-the-boat-1888Konstantin Korovin

I love this poem by William Stafford:

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
children reading

In the midst of all the cancellations

Here in the United States, the reality of the spread of the Covid-19 is just hitting us.

Our incompetent and cowardly President has not helped at all.

In the meantime, on a personal level,  my fiftieth college reunion is cancelled as well as all the St. Patrick’s Day concerts, the early Spring flower shows, and… my in-person university class has been suspended until at least March 30, so I will be teaching the course online, as inept as I am at the technology.

But we are all still illness-free at the moment in my house.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from Roger Tilles ( no, I don’t know who he is!) that I find valuable:

Conversations quote from Roger Tilles