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

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.

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