Archive for October, 2020

Letter from the Vineyard October 25, 2020 Staring into the winter to come…

October 25, 2020

Letter from the Vineyard

October 25, 2020

Staring down the winter to come…

A series of preternaturally beautiful days slipped away as blue skies grayed, in what seemed just a brief moment, while out running some errands, mostly for myself, a few for the store, as if the gods pulled a grey curtain across the world in one quick swoop of hand.

            Warm days, brilliant colors, a mix of warm and cool in one wind, all together the best Vineyard fall days, perfection you want to hold; our inability to do so a harbinger of our mortality, the lonely ache of being human, knowing nothing can be stopped from changing even if you want, as I did, with all my soul to hold on to the day, its beauty, the scent of fall, days not harboring the cold whispering of winter, just its own season, fall, complete, whole.

            In those two days of bucolic beauty, it seemed hard to think anything unpleasant could be happening anywhere; the Vineyard nestled securely in beauty, nothing out of order, people wandering, biking, walking dogs.  

Except everyone is in masks.

            Masks, the constant reminder nothing is fine right now.  One of my errands was to drop a couple of bags of food at St. Andrew’s for delivery to the Food Bank; my cupboards had been stuffed to overflow from pandemic buying to my usual habit of wondering as I am wandering the aisles of Cronig’s or Stop & Shop if I have this or that, decide I don’t, buy it, find three at home. 

            Hard to believe on a jeweled day on the island there are those who might be hungry; there are. 

            Masks, the reminder we are living in pandemic times, with enough other ugliness in the world, to make us think we are in the end times. Though, a commentator on NPR did knock a bit of sense when he reminded us, if you look at the broad strokes, we are better off than we ever have been, despite the pandemic. 

It’s true, a fact trumpeted by my friend, the amazing Howard Bloom, an “omnologist,” a man whose brain should be uploaded, had we the capability.  He sees the world uniquely; we’ll be talking about Bloom into the next century and beyond.  [Read any of his books; there are many, glimpse his brain’s beauty.]

            It is the masks remind us times are not normal despite the world being normally beautiful; because it is, so often it makes our hearts ache, of which we are acutely aware on this island, as this island is more beautiful than most spots, blessed in so many ways.

            However, a pandemic does rage, Europe buckling again, curfews declared, we’re probably a few weeks behind the old world, more cases now than any day since early on.  We’re crawling quickly to a quarter million dead.  

            It is easy to push the dark away when the sun is bright, playing with the changing leaves, wind whistling through beach grasses; not so easy when the sky shades grey, the wind blows chill.  Then, we look out our windows, see the prophesized dark winter ahead, when, pandemic exhausted, we might lower our vigilance just when it needs to be highest.

            It is year when traditions will be upended out of need.  

For more than a decade, a core group has gathered for Christmas; this year cancelled; we’re spread across the country; no one wants to board a plane.  

Thanksgiving will be Zoom/FaceTime events with friends and relatives scattered across the country with whatever I decide to whip together for myself.  Turkey for one sounds a shade forlorn though somehow Beef Wellington does not. 

I will eat, Zoom, live the new normal until it is not, while holding close the thought, thank you Howard, thank you NPR, we are, despite all the grey and gloom, really better off than we’ve been, as a race, though it hardly seems so as we enter the drear winter of 2020, annus horriblis.

Letter from the Vineyard October 12, 2020 Indigenous Peoples’ Day aka Columbus Day…

October 12, 2020
Photo Credit: Creative Commo

Letter from the Vineyard

October 12, 2020

Indigenous People’s Day aka Columbus Day

The Sun Also Rises

Summer has departed; fall has arrived.  This last week has been spectacular; warm, not hot, morning clouds burned away by mid-morning sun, a slow turning of leaves, a day of wild storm, hinting something wicked this way comes; an island slouching toward winter, this morning grimly grey, the first hint of bone chill days to come.

Reading Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile,” a grand insight into Churchill during the Blitz.  I’ve mentioned it before; it has sold like a beach read this summer as we parse the qualities of leadership.

Since last I wrote, Justice Ginsburg has passed, in death continuing her ability to be first, first woman to lie in state, first Jew.  A wonder in death as in life, mourned by many, her death adding fuel to the fire of woe in this annus horriblis. 

2020 is a year history books will mark, a pivot in time, place, way of life.  The world will be different as we walk or crawl forward.  

In a year shaped by coronavirus, we have seen the President recently afflicted, taken by helicopter to Walter Reed, treated with all the drugs that could be thrown at this elusive disease, as if he were in the final throws of the fight.  

Last Sunday, he did a joy ride around the hospital to acknowledge his unmasked supporters cheering him, exposing his Secret Service detail to the disease, forcing them into quarantine after exposure to someone with an active case.  The mind boggles.

More than thirty around him, so far, have also been diagnosed with the coronavirus; we might well be just at the beginning of the Trump super spreader moment, certainly more in his circle infected than in the entire country of Taiwan that week, though we will probably never know, contact tracing not allowed by this White House. 

The play witnessed since his diagnosis, surreal even by the surreal standards of this administration, approaches theater of the absurd.  

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are in quarantine; the White House Chief of Security hospitalized with the virus. Back in May, we discover, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows threw an indoor wedding for his daughter with seventy or more in attendance when local guidelines limited gatherings to ten.

We’ve seen the Vice Presidential debate.  Kamala, you avoided questions.  So did you, Mike Pence; you also lied, not very well.

President Trump seems erratic post hospitalization, whipsawing from one position to its polar opposite in hours; witness his decision to stop negotiations on a relief package one night to wanting a “really big deal” the next, now “signing off” on a $1.8 trillion deal.  My suggestion: watch McConnell.

Mr. Trump, a surfeit of steroids, perhaps?

Thirteen have been arrested for allegedly wanting to kidnap Governor Whitmer of Michigan so she could be “tried” by a group of White Supremacists. This is a bad movie plot. And real. 

We have gone back over 50,000 new cases a day.  New York is locking down areas of Queens and Brooklyn. Wisconsin is on the edge or in the red zone, the Dakotas are battered. Boston has risen above a 4% infection rate, resulting in pushing back school openings.

Sunday morning, I wandered through the restaurant behind the bookstore, bumped into a couple of people I knew, one an ex-Marine, who championed the theory we will only be safe with herd immunity, having to accept the inevitable millions of deaths to get there. He seemed ready to sign up.  

I’m not. Just for the record.

Researchers have found 24 planets that maybe more habitable than earth.  Might be a good thing.  The lungs of this planet, the Amazon rainforest, are about turn to savannah.  

In the meantime, I’ve experienced some picture-perfect Vineyard fall days, sweater cool, windblown, possibly perfect for a sail, ones to contemplate a good fall meal, perhaps squash soup, a hearty steak, a good stew.  Days to savor if you’re alive, sentient, despite the idiocy of the world; the kind of beauty to inspire poets, give flight to dreamers, even when the world crumbles, days to instill hope, even when it seems lost.