visit from a mourning dove

4.19.20 ~ mourning dove on my balcony

Mourning doves have been visiting me off and on since my mother died twenty-eight years ago. They seem to arrive when I could use a little encouragement. When I used to garden one would often sit near me and watch me as I worked. Once one walked with me all the way from my garden to the swimming pool in our complex. Lately one comes to sit on the balcony almost daily and coos for as long as an hour at a time. I find her company very comforting.

Sunday morning I decided to try to photograph her through the sliding glass doors and was thrilled with the results. She didn’t seem to mind posing. I know they are plain birds, but that’s exactly why I find them so beautiful! I love them the same way I love my gulls.

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.
~ Abraham Lincoln
(Letter to Fanny McCullough, December 23, 1862)

When I first read the Lincoln quote six years ago, after my father died, I remember thinking how true it was. When my mother died I was so young it came as a terrible blow and I needed therapy to work through the grief. By the time my father died it was no longer such a shocking experience. I deeply felt the pain of loss, but it wasn’t unexpected.

We now have 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town. There are moments I feel terribly anxious about this. It’s starting to sink in that it may be be many months or even more than a year before it will be safe to visit our grandchildren again. As it stands now, I don’t think I will feel free from danger before there is a vaccine. But we are trying to make the best of it and even find a sense of humor at times.

I find myself wondering how my parents would respond to the coronavirus pandemic. I imagine they would probably be just as blindsided as the rest of humanity. But since Mother Nature sees fit to send me such a sweet comforter as this lovely mourning dove I will stay grateful.

It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Letter to Arthur Davison Ficke, October 24, 1930)

4.19.20 ~ this might be my favorite pose

The Millay quote has been one of my favorites for a long time. It amuses me and helps me to laugh at the ironic situations I think I find myself in. The coronavirus pandemic feels unprecedented, and perhaps it is in my lifetime, but not at all in the history of the world.

In the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, the protagonist, Kristin, dies from the Black Death at the end. It’s one thing to read about plague statistics in history books, quite another to experience what it must have been like while reading the words of an excellent storyteller. It comforts me to know others have felt the same fear.

Being a highly sensitive child, whenever I would lament about the sad things happening in the world my father would sigh and advise me, “‘Twas ever thus.” When my mother was dying of cancer and my heart ached for her suffering he would gently remind me that “every creature struggles for life.” He was a naturalist and scientist who taught us compassion for animals and people, but also prepared us for loss. Whenever one of our pets died he would tell us to “remember the good times.” I am so grateful for the lessons he taught me.

4.19.20 ~ showing off her feathers

‘Twas ever thus — from childhood’s hour I’ve seen my fondest hopes decay, I never loved a tree or flower but ’twas the first to fade away.
~ Charles Dickens
(The Old Curiosity Shop)

words everywhere

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new arrivals only allowed in fair weather ~ Book Barn ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

Recently we spent a couple of hours at one of our favorite places, a used bookstore named the Book Barn, in the coastal village of Niantic, Connecticut. The Book Barn has three locations within a mile of each other, two are “downtown” and at the main site there is a huge barn full of books on three levels, surrounded by smaller structures which are also full of books. The complex houses about half a million books at any given moment.

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Lucky is a tiny black cat who hangs out in the outbuilding called the “Last Page” ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

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1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

If one wants to sell books to the store she must take a number at “Ellis Island,” the receiving spot for new additions. We love to browse the endless stacks of books, pet the friendly resident cats, and read all the creative signs found in the gardens and on and around the buildings. As one might expect from book lovers, words are found everywhere: reminders, warnings, directions, suggestions, quips and puns.

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sign in the Haunted Book Shop ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

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1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books… Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.
~ Abraham Lincoln
(Abraham Lincoln, a Man of Faith & Courage: Stories of Our Most Admired President)

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garden gargoyle perched on top of a large stone ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

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a thinker sitting at the bottom of the stone ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

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death due to Kindle ~ 1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

Of course we came home with an armful of interesting books to read! I may love my Kindle but will always have a special place in my heart for paperback and hardcover books!!

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1.19.13 ~ Niantic, Connecticut

The following video is a bit long, but the beginning of it offers a good idea about the look and feel of the place…

East Village in Manhattan

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
lobby of The Ukrainian Museum ~ 1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

Saturday we took a day trip to New York to visit Larisa & Dima, to see their new digs in Manhattan, an apartment on the top floor of a six-story walk-up. We huffed and we puffed and we made it all the way to the top with just a few pauses to catch our breath! After some refreshments and a tour of their sunlight-filled rooms – a marked advantage to being so far up – we went back down the stairs and then it was a hop, skip and a jump to the subway station, where we purchased our passes and spent the rest of the day zipping around the city.

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
art by Borys Kosarev ~ 1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

Our night-owl daughter Larisa has wanted to live in ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ for as long as any of us can remember. As we followed her and Dima here, there, and everywhere, we got the wonderful feeling that she was born to live in New York and is thrilled to be living her dream at last. She certainly worked hard to get there and is making a difference in the lives of others as a social worker.

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
Larisa taking in a collection of dolls in traditional Ukrainian costumes. Larisa is a common Ukrainian name – Auntie used to make dolls like these. The top shelf is a Nativity scene. ~ 1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

We spent a good chunk of time in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Since my ancestry is half Ukrainian we visited The Ukrainian Museum. We saw the current exhibition, Borys Kosarev: Modernist Kharkiv, 1915-1931. Kosarev (1897-1994) was a Modernist artist who managed somehow to survive Stalin’s intellectual purges in the 1930s in Ukraine. Outside we found a street named after Taras Shevchenko, a famous Ukrainian poet, artist, illustrator and humanist. I posted one of his poems on my blog several months ago: “My Friendly Epistle

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

In the neighborhood we also found the sublime St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church…

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

The church is across the street from McSorley’s Old Ale House, New York City’s oldest continuously operated saloon, where the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon have found refreshment and inspiration. The floor is covered with sawdust and the beer was good, Tim reports. (Being gluten-free I could not partake…) Established in 1854, women were not allowed to enter McSorley’s until 1970!

1.28.12 ~ New York, New York
1.28.12 ~ New York, New York

On a side note, several months ago I updated my iPod and suddenly was no longer able to shuffle individual songs on my playlists. Even Tim couldn’t figure out how to do it, and so he suggested that perhaps one of the younger folks could solve the mystery. I handed the iPod to Dima and in a few seconds he handed it back with the problem resolved! Thanks, Dima!! Our trip home was very merry as we sang along with a more varied selection of tunes. It was a great way to end a great day!

photos by Timothy Rodgers