Sunday Morning ~ Going With the Flow
Khote-khote wa njoka, utsata kumene kwaloza mutu. ~ Crooked is the way the snake moves, but you follow where the head points.
~ Chewa proverb
July 19, 2020
It’s a quiet Sunday morning, very still and serene. It’s so different from what my summer Sundays are usually like around here. I’m used to being alone in the winter but not in the summer; this is very strange. Last evening, three friends and I sat six feet apart around my newly constructed fire pit, drank wine, and talked. It was a warm evening for these parts but the fire kept the bugs away and the glow felt good as the chill set in when the sun went down. It was peaceful. We shared gardening stories, traded tricks for deer repelling, and talked politics. I thought about how removed we are from the sickness and death, from the violence, from the sweltering city confinement. My biggest problems of the day were slugs, deer visits, and a clogged bathroom sink. All that seems so petty. I sat, enjoying the evening, wondering if past generations sat and discussed the political instability in their country before all out war broke. My anxiety mounted again this week as new bold fascist acts unfold. I thought, “Yup. Just when I started accepting the craziness, here it goes up a notch.” It’s happening. And there we sat, discussing, in comfort and companionship, the witnessing of our country’s downfall. We’d all supported the same candidate who lost the primary on Tuesday so the bubbly we’d planned to drink in celebration we drank in solidarity. We accept the results and know we need to come together for the general election. It’s our only way out of this now.
As I sat down to write this morning I thought about how mundane my life seems. No travel adventures to write about, no forays into new cultures and experiences. I always considered travel the great teacher and now I’m forced to take responsibility for my own growth. I have a new appreciation for home schooling. The lessons I’m learning now are civics and history. I appreciate this opportunity and recognize how privileged I am to do so. When the pandemic started I thought with horror that I might not be able to travel for a few MONTHS! Now I accept that there won’t be any traveling for the next year at least. It is unlikely the grandkids will even come for their summer stay. I thought I’d be back in Malawi this year, at least for a couple of months. This is the first time in my adult life I have no future plans. That feeling panicked me at first but I’m settling into it. I’ve been thinking about stuff I’ve been wanting to do in Maine. It’s a big state and I’ve explored relatively little of it. I’d saved domestic adventures for when I was older and international travel wasn’t as feasible. Well, here we are.
I’ve been wanting to do a canoe trip down the Allagash River in northern Maine. Hearing stories of the trip from other’s who’ve done it put it on my radar a long time ago. But for one reason or another I just haven’t been able to pull it off. It’s not something I can do alone for one thing. I’m not super confident on the water and I definitely wouldn’t be able to maneuver a canoe myself, especially through rapids, so I needed to recruit a partner. Turns out that was not easy. Summer’s a hard time to get someone to take a week away from their life here. People have guests, second and third jobs, kids’ activities, events; it’s hard to budget the time away. Then, it has to be someone interested in doing this. I’ve found fewer people like camping than I imagined. And it is a week long commitment with lots of logistics; vehicles have to be moved on dirt logging roads. But the stars are lining up this year (funny the upside of a pandemic) and I’ve got the trip planned for early August with three friends. I love the idea of being deep in the wilderness, cooking over a campfire, sleeping on the ground, and reflecting on all those who lived on that river long before settlers arrived.
I keep pulling out maps, studying how the river flows into lakes and ponds, wondering about water levels, dry sacks, portages. I worried about getting lost. My son, who has done this, told me there’s no way to get lost. The river only flows one way once you’re on it. Go with the flow. I never appreciated that phrase quite as much as now. I worried about the rapids. My friend assured me I can manage them. “And”, he said, “if you do capsize there, you get out, bail out, and keep going.” Good philosophy for life.
Wishing everyone well in these strange times.
Love to all,