Look, the pandemic hasn’t been great. But it hasn’t been horrible, either.
Tonight, my husband and I sat on the porch, eating our dinner in the nice spring air. We have such a narrow window when we can enjoy the evening out front. A few weeks ago, rainy season would have still had a grip on everything. A couple of months from now, it will be hot and/or smoky (I should add that a ‘smoky season’ was not part of my growing up, but because forest fires have become so prevalent, ‘smoke season’ has sadly become a real thing.) to enjoy the front of our house.
We’ve become those people who call out niceties to those passing by. We might even be people that others try to avoid, walking their dogs on the other side of the street so they can finish the walk without having to talk to the people who lounge on their front porches. But I also recognize that we’re all enjoying the time to talk to each other more. I used to be the person who never had time to talk to other people, some urgent task was always waiting for me at home, whether or not I actually had something serious to do. It felt serious. Now, little does.
We realized the blossoms on the cherry tree had fallen. Just a few days ago, they littered the yard like pink snow.
A few weeks before that, I noticed the tulip bulbs had emerged, but had not bloomed. I waited and checked on them like I used to wait and check on HBO to release another episode of Game of Thrones. Without a television show for us all to be obsessed with and without anywhere else to go, the popping of the tulips has become the entertainment.
They have bloomed now, and bloomed out. As have the daffodils, and the cherry blossoms. It’s late-spring, now. It’s a period of green without any other color, as the local foliage waits for the summer blooms to come in.
I tend the plants I planted last year. I see dandelion leaves making root in the native flower garden I’ve cultivated and briefly wonder if I should leave them. They are pollinators too, after all. But I don’t. I leave everything as it is and know I’ll do some weeding this weekend.
Last month, we found a box of letters in my house, all dated from the 1930’s. A teenaged boy wrote to girls in every town from here to the coast. The letters talk about going to dances, drinking moonshine, hitchhiking to get around and eating strawberries in June while writing a letter face-down in the grass. A slow time, a boring time, a time that has come around again. I’m okay with it. I don’t miss getting on airplanes.
I do miss hugs. I miss making plans. I miss looking forward to something and believing in a guarantee. I miss being able to give my word, to buy a ticket, to mark a firm time on my calendar, to have a sense of knowing, control, oversight.
But I don’t miss being busy. Is there a way to have both?
Earlier this season, when I saw the cherry tree bud, I wondered if someone had forgotten to tell the tree that there was a pandemic, that it didn’t need to work at the moment, that it ought to stay at home and not worry about flowers. But then I remembered that it didn’t need any of these things. It was home and it wasn’t doing a job, it was just being itself. And then I remembered that if anyone were to tell this tree anything, that anyone ought to be me. I forgot to tell, as did everyone on my street with a tree in their yard. Now, the rhododendrons in the park are blooming in hot pinks and reds, and they look as though they’re waiting for us to notice.
For now, we are. Now, we see. We see while we wait.
It will get easier. But not everything about now is hard.