Sunday Morning ~ All in Good Time

Sunday Morning ~ All in Good Time

Cikacita mang’a, cileke, mawa cituluka. ~ When it shows a crack, just leave it alone, tomorrow it will come out.

~ Chewa proverb

September 13, 2020

Hi Everyone,

A calm has come over me this week. The anxiety I carry about our future has been building to the point where I felt short of breath and panicky on a daily basis. Taking a break from the news and being with my granddaughter has been the healthiest thing in the world. I know California is burning and our Democracy is on the brink of extinction, but this week thoughts of impending doom were relegated to some distant corner of semi-reality. 

Amelia and I took a little camping trip to Moosehead Lake, 118 square miles of fresh water in the northern Maine woods. Forty miles long, it’s the largest lake in New England and a landmark in Maine I’d not visited. Living on this beautiful Island and working at a job requiring me to be constantly available, kept me close to home when I wasn’t traveling internationally. It’s time to explore the parts of Maine I’ve ignored. The drive north was dotted with Biden signs, a reassuring sign in a part of the state known for it’s conservatism. The sun shone, roadside stands displayed pretty stacks of vegetables, traffic was minimal, and I had good company. We sang songs. I pretended everyone could do this. We lived in a fantasy world for a few days. 

As we drove through Monson, the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness on the Appalachian Trail, I thought about a friend who had through-hiked the trail several times. My last text from him was at the end of July telling me to enjoy the canoe trip. He was being treated for pancreatic cancer and said he was feeling better and was hopeful about the new treatment. I told him I was glad, but wondered. He died last week. I let the unfairness pass over me like a wave, thought about his pragmatic spirit, and resolved to embrace whatever goodness there is in this life.  

The state park we were heading for was on the lakeshore. I’d tried all summer to get a reservation there but none were available until this week, and even then I could only get two nights. It seems everyone was heading for the woods. Embrace. I taught Amelia how to set up the tent, how to blow up the sleeping pads, and stake the rain fly. She told me she was excited and nervous to sleep in the woods. She wondered if bears would come. I told her the tent looks like a very big animal so nothing would bother us but there would be no nightlight. When we finished reading the light had to go out or every insect in the woods would be attracted to us. That made seven year-old sense. We spent the afternoon at the lake (sort of) swimming. The water was warmer than I expected but still cold so up to my knees was all I could manage. She, however, was all fish until the shivering made her retreat to the towel. We went back to our site and lit a fire, ready for the next lesson: campfire cooking. The woman next to us came over, socially distanced, to introduce herself and ask if we needed anything. She saw it was a “girls” outing and wanted to let us know they were well equipped if we were short of supplies. Lovely and considerate. We thanked her and told her we’d come over if we found ourselves in trouble. We cooked our pasta, cleaned up, let the fire die out, too full for marshmallows, and got ready for bed.

Next morning we packed up and drove 20 miles north up the western shore of the lake to the boat launch that would take us to Mt. Kineo, an impressive mountain with a side of sheer cliffs, situated on an island. I had hiking on my agenda and Amelia struck a deal that she’d hike the mountain as long as I went swimming afterward. “All the way in.” she demanded. I agreed, thinking it was an easier concession than my own kids would have demanded. They usually wanted something like toys or candy. This I could commit to, even though I hate swimming in cold water. An uncomplaining partner on a hike, however, is worth it. 

We arrived in time for the eleven o’clock boat, to discover it’s cash only and the fee was about quadruple what I expected. I didn’t have enough money on me and wasn’t sure I’d have time to find an ATM. Arriving at the same time were a couple from Wisconsin, lamenting the chilly temperature. I asked if they knew of an ATM close by? They didn’t but offered to pay our boat fare. I said I couldn’t let them do that, but they said, “No really, we have plenty of cash.”  I’m telling you, the world is full of wonderful people. We just don’t hear enough about them and I am determined to tell their stories. I found out there was an ATM just up the road and had time to run there, get cash, and get back in time, but that couple put a smile on my face the rest of the week. I was sure to let them know that.

Amelia made good on her end of the deal with nary a complaint and on the boat ride back she reminded me of mine. I told her I wouldn’t think of reneging on my end and she looked smug as she planned the itinerary. “You have to stay in as long as I tell you.” which, I didn’t remember as part of the deal, but acquiesced because I imagined having some control would feel good as a child, something I certainly never experienced when I was seven. It was emotionally satisfying, though physically painful, to hear her squeal with laughter as I forced myself to submersion in water that would have been a bit cold for me to drink. 

Driving home a physical calm came upon me. It was like some divine swaddling of reassurance that we would all be ok. I wondered if the woods could really have that much power, but it was more than that. I don’t know what the future holds but believe somehow in our collective good. Not in a passive naive way, more in a way that makes me feel like all this effort will be worth it. Maybe it was the Biden signs, maybe it was the dose of childhood wisdom, maybe the decision to let go of relationships dragging me down. Or maybe it’s just the Lyme is gone and I feel better, but I feel lighter and ready to face the challenges again. 

Love to all,

Linda

Sunday Morning ~ The Glad Game

Sunday Morning ~ The Glad Game

Madzi adzala, mlamba usekera. ~ The waters become plentiful because of all the side rivers.

~ Chewa proverb

September 6, 2020

Hi Everyone,

My granddaughter is with me for two weeks, her delayed start of school turned problem into gift for me. It is such a balm having her here. I have been craving human contact, a hug or even a handshake would be nice, so being with her for two weeks of endless cuddling is the healthiest, most healing thing possible. If ever an event could illuminate the importance of therapeutic touch, this is it. 

Amelia has an impressive movie inventory at her disposal. She could play all the leads, knowing scripts by heart and able to perform with flair. I regaled her with stories about my childhood movie experience: We could watch them only when the networks decided to show them, usually once a year, AND we had to be ready at the time they started. That meant, dinner done, pajamas on, channel and seats chosen. She looked at me wide eyed. “You could only watch Frozen once a year?” she asked incredulously. I told her Frozen wasn’t a movie then but the movies I loved were only shown once a year. She asked which movies I loved? Wizard of Oz was a biggie, but my favorite was Pollyanna. She’d never heard of it. I wanted to show her an alternative to the animated musical extravaganzas she adores and thought watching it together would be fun. I tried Netflix but it isn’t there. I checked the actual brick and mortar library but they didn’t have it either. I thought I would have to buy the DVD but that meant Amazon which I have been boycotting. A big dilemma.

My neighbor invited us to a campfire Monday so Amelia and I masked up and walked over there to sit as far away as possible from the two other women and still be able to toast marshmallows. We started talking about movies and I told them I wanted to watch Pollyanna with Amelia, a movie they probably never even heard of. They told me of course they’d seen it! The Glad Game! They loved all the Haley Mills movies! I found this so sweet and incredibly reassuring to hear affinity for feel-good entertainment is something we share in the neighborhood. I’m clinging to shared values anywhere I can find them. Amelia got more excited with such a ringing endorsement from women closer to her age than mine. 

We walked home in the full moonlight determined to figure out how to watch that movie. I braced myself for a day of figuring it out, subscribing to a service I didn’t want, prepared to pay whatever it cost. I set aside the whole day Friday to work on it. This is how inept I am at passive entertainment. I am completely dependent on my children for this. I’ve had boyfriends willing and able but they come and go and are currently gone. I was determined to become self-sufficient. I can build my own house I should be able to find a movie to watch. A friend told me all the Disney movies are now on Disney Plus which Amelia excitedly told me she could get on her iPad. That made me feel foolish and a poor provider but it saved me a whole day of fretting. I said we’d check it out after all our other activities. I had built this movie up to be the epitome of entertainment and I started getting worried it would flop. I hadn’t seen it in at least fifty years. I started thinking it probably moves slow and she’d get bored. I, of course, wanted her to love the movie as much as I did. Wanted her to go through life looking at the bright side. Maybe even dissuade her from sneaking out at night in the future. We talked about it all day Friday. As we hiked a lakeside path to swim off the rocks, she asked more questions about what life was like when I was her age. “How old were you when you first saw Pollyanna?” she wanted to know. I told her I was about her age. I told her what it was like to negotiate with my brothers about what we would watch in the evenings as everyone had to watch the same thing. There was only one TV and three stations to choose from. This struck her as the depths of deprivation. (I wonder if we learned better negotiating skills because of that?)

Friday evening, after we’d eaten and cleaned up, Amelia handed me her iPad. She showed me where Disney Plus was, I typed in Pollyanna, and there it was! Yup, 1960. That was it. I saw it was a two hour and fifteen minute commitment. Do attention spans even last that long now? I felt both ridiculous and ecstatic. I was literally getting my credit card out but all we had to do was hit play. Miraculous. The only problem was we had to watch it on her iPad. When I lamented this to my daughter she said, “Mum, your TV is not much bigger than her iPad, c’mon.”  Which is sort of accurate. Then she wanted to watch it in bed. I reluctantly agreed with the understanding it was a big concession for me. I insist on eating meals at the table and watching whatever in the study. But as Amelia said, “It’s Covid! We need to be flexible!” And the idea of just turning out the light and going to sleep was appealing. And if she got bored and fell asleep I wouldn’t have to carry her upstairs. I’m going soft. 

The movie has held up well!  Amelia loved it, laughed a lot (which thrilled me), and buried her head in my shoulder when the old man caught them sneaking around his house. I cried at the end (as I always did), and we both raved over the costumes. The acting is silly and mediocre, but in keeping with the period, so forgivable. I was struck by how airbrushed the sticky situations were but found it a relief from real life right now. I was horrified when the doctor carried her downstairs like a bride. She had a spinal cord injury for God’s sake! Couldn’t they make that scene a little more realistic? But otherwise, seeing everyone come together for a cause (and orphans no less), standing up to a bully (philanthropic but controlling), and melting hearts, well, it has given us lots to talk about. Amelia asked what my favorite part was. I had to think about it, but said my favorite part of the movie was that they showed how powerful one little girl can be. She changed a whole town just by being kind and finding good things to focus on. Then she asked what was my least favorite part? I said, that she was climbing a tree at night in slippery shoes and didn’t get inside the window and make herself more secure before reaching for that doll. She listened intently then asked, “Wait, did that really happen?”

News blackout this week. Bliss. 

Love to all,

Linda