Bestiary Tales in Covid Times

“Summer will be done in just two weeks!” trilled the children. The son was excited, as expected, by the fact that it was time for the autumnal solstice. (Earth’s tilt, cosmos, time are all fair game for him)

I stopped bustling about and nodded. It was true! That’s two whole seasons of Covid living.

Summer has been a blur. Sometimes, it was a happy blur of forests, rivers, beaches, craters, lakes, browning meadows, bundles of hay, wildflowers, towering trees, stars at night, comets zipping in the Earth’s vicinity, angry and mellow sunsets, pelicans and 🎼 “wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings” 🎶, hummingbirds flittering in the pale light of the rising moon, asters and star lilies in the shade of their massive neighborly trees. All of this with the sweet companionship of the family, and close friends – zooming in at times.

Other times, it was exhausting – heat waves, massive wildfires, poor air quality indexes, Covid numbers continuing to rise and showing no signs of abetting, protest marches, racism, bomb blasts, all on top of a news cycle that seems to think it has to deliver the heaviest punch into every day. It is like watching the world’s worst wrestling match. 🤼‍♂️ Really, someone should coach the world that not everything needs to be shocking and bigger and worse than ever before. It might be okay to watch a match in which the players seldom land a punch and are merely playing the game warily sizing each other up once in a while. 

Yet, life must go on, and it often goes along much better when we stop and look for promising moments in the gloom. There are moments that stand out clearly in this pandemic, when I felt a wave of gratitude overwhelm me, and I am also grateful for the sheer timing of these moments.

The time I stood on a windy, lonely strip of beach wrapping a towel about me for warmth and watching the sandpipers fly against the wind without wavering one bit, while I had a tough time just standing erect was one such. It was but a fleeting instant in which the little nippy sandpipers taught me about keeping one’s spirits up when the world is attempting to veer us off course every which way.

Or the moment, when on a road trip to a solitary house by the Umpqua river, the road wove on, the heat rose in waves around us, and the shimmering waters of the Lake Shasta looked like a green beast taking it easy in the summer, and laying low for what lay ahead. A few weeks later, the Sierra Nevada mountains were to be threatened by wildfires on a magnitude that sent the state of California reeling. Looking at the dry lands about us for a couple of hours, I felt a moment of dread, when the road turned, and a beautiful gushing river accompanied the road, and there on a rock in the middle of the river was a great big bear, looking contented and trying to fish or just cool off. 

As we took our summer walks in the evenings, I stopped so many times to admire the geese splashing into the waters after their great squawking, while the pelicans achieved this feat with none of the noise, but all of the grace.

I remember the time we looked up on a stroll to come eye to eye with a great turkey vulture. The elementary school going son was with me, and he thrilled at it. “Amma – I know you take pictures of the flowers  everyday because they only last for sometime, but this…oh…this is so special. It is so .. umm.. “ He struggled for the right word, but I think I knew what he was going for. I felt it too. There was a majesty about the bird that was hard to describe. There was a divinity and a razor sharp quality to its gaze that falconers love. I have tried to experience this when I read the book H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. But all I needed was that encounter lasting all of two minutes. 

“The hawk was everything I wanted to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life.”

― Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk

Really! How much our fellow creatures have to teach us?! 

I think of what wild animals are in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing — not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually rarity is all they are made of.” H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

Just like that, Autumn comes in all its glory to teach us what it does best. Preparing for Winter.

A Hopeful Future

There is nothing quite as special as walking in nature after a long day or week. Every step seems to take one tiny bit of stress away, and replace them with happy endorphins  dancing to a beat in the body. As the eyes lift their gaze towards the skies, the clouds, trees, and birds seem to join in on one harmonious orchestra together welcoming the soul to relax and rejoice in the moment of being, and participate in the steady march of time. Hummingbirds, bluebirds and the occasional butterflies flit overhead, while the ravens and geese noisily make their way home.

Summer is creeping in, the jacaranda trees are in bloom in the neighborhood, the gingko leaves have come in fully, and though the world around us is in shambles, confused, anxious and worried, Mother Nature seems to have no such problems. She brought on Summer just in time.

The park near where we live has a steady smattering of high school students social distancing as best as they can and taking graduation pictures. In little knots of 2s & 3s, they cluster around giggling and looking hopeful. I stop at a distance admiring the high schoolers celebrating their graduation day with pictures in gowns. The smiles of confident youth look just as marvelous as the summer blooms they stand amidst, and their perfumes amidst the heady scent of the flowers is heaven itself. There is no doubt about it: The summer evenings seem doubly enjoyable and bright because of the young talent making their way out into the world.

These children did not get the graduation party like their seniors did, or their juniors will, but they seem to be coping with grace. A few photographs with their best friends would have to do. I hear loud peals of laughter puncture the evenings as they decide on how to take their pictures. I hope every child in these uncertain times has good friends. The laughter rings in the obvious: everything seems to be manageable with the right set of friends.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

Emily Dickinson

In other news,
Trump Rally Registered Million Attendees but Actual Count 6000!

Thousands of teens registered for Trump’s rally , after his initial Juneteeth rally was moved to Sunday, and then didn’t show up. What’s more? They deleted their tik-toks soon after!

Standing there that evening with the world on pause from the Corona virus, and the city’s curfew just ended due to the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt hope stir again. The angst and idealism of youth was intact. These young adults saw us flounder at a critical moment in their lives, and the exuberance with which they are eager to take the torch makes me hopeful.

“For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” Kahlil Gibran