cocoon

*I have always wanted to spell cocoon the same as raccoon but it doesn’t.

So I think I am in current events overload. 2020 seemed to start out pretty well. Not much different from most new years until this virus. Which I learned we are now affectionately calling “the ‘Rona”. I doubt anybody who has had a close encounter with it feels too fond of it, or anything having to do with it.

fritillary caterpillar cocoon

My son and his girlfriend left for Germany on a Wednesday afternoon. That evening flights were cancelled from Asia. Friday they were cancelled from Europe. Saturday he was scrambling to find a flight from anywhere in Europe back to the states. They did make it back.

Then schools closed, till further notice. Playgrounds, parks, restaurants, libraries, government and municipal offices, the IRS, people worked from home. Or they were furloughed.

angel trumpet flower seed pod

Basically life stopped.

Hostility in the federal government escalated. A person of color died under uncertain circumstances in law enforcement custody and riots started. Not just there. Everywhere. Last I heard Seattle is still under siege.

We made it somehow through spring, no church, no graduations. Then summer. Some parts of the country the virus stabilized. Corporations began relocating elsewhere from the west and pacific northwest. Students continued their online classrooms.

fritillary (red) caterpillar with monarch caterpillar

Fall came. Louisiana got hit by more hurricanes. Busiest season on record. Some cities and states had opened. The virus spiked here and there, not in other places. Then other states crawled to phase 3, still not much service in restaurants but some store hours expanded though most places still require people to wear a mask. It became evident that this virus can be managed and survived but panic is still being encouraged in some quarters, I have no idea why.

passionflower (maypop) fruit

And now election. I’m capped off at this point. Early voting started last Thursday where I live. I stood in line two hours to vote. Most people were civil, congenial even. We did not care who was what or who was voting for whom. We voted, we went away.

maypop flowers

So I have done my civic duty. In the past at various elections I have been a precinct judge, a poll watcher. I have volunteered with phone banks. Not this year. Even though some states are claiming they need to extend the ballot counts beyond election day because, well, covid. I say baloney.

goldenrod flower spike and small bumble bee sleeping

So I will self-isolate, call a lid, whatever, intentionally, even though now with my state still in phase three I don’t have to. I have seen highly contentious politics before but none with so much proof and evidence of unethical and illegal activities that are blatantly denied. I’ve not lost faith because my faith is in God, not men. But I am looking forward to a day when all of us are honest again, when we care about others and work for what is good for all people. And I am going to firmly believe this day will come in my lifetime.

hate

I have learned that hate is not necessarily opposite to love.

This week rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I went to a park we seldom visit but like, especially before hurricane Isaias hit and the pier was damaged.

Lily and Lulu enjoyed walking to the end of the pier, sniffing the spots where fishermen had cleaned their fish, sitting on the benches as we walked. But the county parks department has been slow in clearing trees and making repairs so though we can still walk at this park the pier is closed.

I noticed a person sitting at a picnic bench and thought what a nice day it was for a picnic lunch when this person yelled, “You better watch out, I have two pitbulls here!”

I looked around to see whether she felt threatened by someone else. Nope. Just my dogs and me walking. So I called back, “Well, how can I get by then to avoid your dogs?” (pitbulls do not frighten me, in fact this lady scared me more than the dogs, as she continued…)

She stood, pointing to the far perimeter away from her, yelling her dogs were on very long chains. I pointed out this was a public park, which I probably shouldn’t have. She replied (I will clean up her words)…

“I’m so ****ing tired of you ****ing slow people down here. Idiots, can’t figure out *unintelligible*…”

Again, probably against better judgment, I replied, “Maybe you could go someplace you’d be happier.” Again came a very angry response as she reeled in her snarling and snapping dogs and their very long chains.

I was beginning to shake at this point. You never know when someone will snap. And many people have guns. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Second Amendment. My dad was an avid hunter (for food, not trophy) and collector. My brother and I were taught at an early age about guns and how to use and respect them. I have many friends who have guns for protection. These days this is a good idea. But this woman was becoming unhinged and I was worried so we walked faster over to the pier.

Since we had not been to this park in a long time Lily and Lulu were enthralled with the scents and marsh tracks (the Cape Fear is a tidal river and it was low tide), so I let them wander.

I slipped Lily’s collar off so she could have more freedom and she was so happy. She darted in among the reeds, chased little spider crabs, stopped to explore and smell under and around uprooted trees. The day was quickly warming so I put her leash back on to head back to the car, and we circled around the far side of the park to avoid the angry lady.

I glanced her way as we came parallel to where she sat. She was affectionately stroking her dogs who gazed up at her with complete adoration. So whatever had caused this woman’s defensive anger toward me and loathsome comments, had been mollified somewhat by the love she shared with her dogs. I found myself praying for her. For all I knew she may have lost a job, or a relative, or a friend. I will never know what caused her unjustified anger at me. She did not know the first thing about me. She will likely never know. She won’t know that I tend to be impatient with slow people myself. Or that I am respectful toward other dogs we meet on walks even if the persons with them indicate they are friendly. You never really know how dogs will react to other dogs. My language, though much cleaner than when I was a single parent and juggling 12-too-many balls in the air and way more impatient than even now, can be salted occasionally by words I immediately ask forgiveness for.

So despite her preconceptions of who I am and how I behave, however mistaken, she and I had more in common than she will ever know.

indian summer

This time of year is beautiful. My mother always called it indian summer. Despite my perpetual questions when I was little, her beatific manner as she answered me made it seem all the more serene, mystic almost. It’s not a common phrase I learned, but people who use it make it seem lovely.

Sassafras leaves

Where I live on the North Carolina coast doesn’t have as well-defined seasons as the mountains. The few maples we have will turn but much later when it begins to get so cold the leaves just fall. So we don’t enjoy the spectacular, dramatic reds, yellows, oranges of the trees that blanket the mountains and foothills. And we have many evergreen trees, not just palms, pines, cedars and magnolia but many oaks that stay green — live oak, blackjack, willow and water oaks. So unless we  have an ice storm, or snow things stay pretty awake through the winter. Their dormancy is not apparent.

Highbush blueberry

It does get cooler here but not consistently. The thing that we do have that other places have is fall pollen. Especially ragweed. Unlike spring pollens this season’s pollen -for me- is almost debilitating. And deceptive. It can seem like a serious cold or even a flu, complete with fever and cough. When I was little it was bad enough to need allergy shots. But only for here. I have lived in New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and New Mexico. No allergy problems any of those places. And the weird thing, whenever they give those dreadful allergy ‘scratch’ tests where you have a thousand punctures and they cover you with allergens, for me nothing ever shows up. No allergies.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu enjoying a sunny autumn afternoon

So every fall I stock up on tissues and antihistamines (thankful both are on store shelves again) and make the best of it. Like with everything some days are better, some days I keep the eyedrops nearby, and always the herbal teas. I swear by these. My sister-in-law thinks they are for sissies and I used to think they were a little too new age-y until I tried a couple. Maybe it’s the hot temperature. Maybe it’s the added honey. Whatever it is, it helps the symptoms.

Bracken fern

My brother had allergies. One year they were especially bad. He doesn’t have the patience with things like this. He did whatever he had to to get rid of the congestion. And whatever he did worked. Not for me. Mine just lasted longer. And my brother had a mortal fear of any sort of injection.

I don’t know what this is. I thought it was pretty.

So these bodies we have. We adapt, change, age, accommodate and take care of it the best we can. It has to last a while.

phases

Everything has a phase. Life, insects, business, illness, the moon, people. When this covid started states were given federal guidance for ‘managing’ conditions to ostensibly promote avoidance of the virus and maintain good health. The authority rested with the governors. I’m not sure this was the best plan but how could they not. Like a parent, they had to be fair. Every state has a governor.

So the country basically went into hibernation. Work from home. Shop for essentials only… if you could find them. Travel stopped. Playgrounds were empty. Churches were empty. I have to wonder if the effects would have been any different had the precautions been selective to age, strength, physical limitation. But nobody knew how it would or wouldn’t impact people. So we all sat at home.

Finally, late spring, after everyone missed celebrating Easter, graduations and other spring events some states moved to the next phase. Other states’ governors went totally rogue and power crazed. They tightened the screws. Then the riots. Chaos ensued. Everywhere. Protesting, maybe, but with violence. Not peaceful. Think what you will, I do not see what they are doing to accomplish anything aside from destroying livelihoods and dreams. We know they are organized, recruited and paid, these rioters. Some states have doused the flames. Others encourage the crazy.

So this phase 3. North Carolina just moved there this weekend having had phase 2 extended in 5-week increments since May. It does not escape me that the election is a month away. Our governor is not popular. He knows this. Ballot harvesting is illegal here yet it has been said there was evidence of it in 2018, when he ran for the office. I am not smart enough to sniff out political intrigue and aberrations. But I do know this state is tired of moving in circles. We are exhausted from frustration and boredom. Two entire seasons saw personal freedom in a straight jacket.

Whatever, we are coming up on a year since this weird virus made an appearance. I don’t normally obsess over a thing, not a nebulous one. But this was treated badly. Cancer patients could not receive treatment. Family members passed away alone. There must have been some way hospitals could take precautions so families could have spent some moments together. I know God was not surprised by any of this. I know He is fully aware of where this all is going. I just wonder if He wishes we had handled it better. All of us.