As we continue to carve out a new life for ourselves in quarantine, we have started referring to “our bubble.” Stay safe, stay home. We are wary of popping our bubble by some careless slip of protocol. We care for our safe zone (our bubble) and speak of it fondly sometimes, as we tend to it like one would a houseplant or a pet.
Yesterday we went for an early morning walk at Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic. It’s a large scenic resting place along the Mystic River, just north of Mystic Seaport. The seaport is closed for the pandemic and many (most?) of its employees have been laid off. We parked at the south end of the graveyard where we could see the dockyard across the water and also explore the fascinating carvings on the gravestones of past sailors.
We’re going to renew our membership to Mystic Seaport anyway. Even though we have no idea when it will be safe to visit again.
I’m pretty sure that cliff and house (above) are part of the Peace Sanctuary, where Janet, her mom and I took a lady slippers nature walk back in 2013. See lady slippers.
Will the Viking ship have any adventures this year? I have my doubts there will be a Viking Days festival this June…
And we finally came around back to our car. Can’t believe it’s six years old! In some places folks aren’t permitted to drive somewhere to take a walk but we are, thankfully. Tim says it isn’t good for cars to sit without running for long periods of time. Our car is an important part of our bubble!
This was our first walk where we did not encounter a single person! Not sure if it was the location or the time of day that did the trick. I suspect there will be more cooler early morning walks as the warmer summer days come along. As long as we can manage to stay safe in our bubble.
We now have 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our town.
Not from successful love alone, Nor wealth, nor honor’d middle age, nor victories of politics or war; But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm, As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky, As softness, fullness, rest, suffuse the frame, like fresher, balmier air, As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at last hangs really finish’d and indolent-ripe on the tree, Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all! The brooding and blissful halcyon days! ~ Walt Whitman (Sands at Seventy)
Here is the test of wisdom, Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul. ~ Walt Whitman (Meditations of Walt Whitman: Earth, My Likeness)
Sometimes a thought train follows me through a day. The other morning the folks at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford posted one of her quotes on Facebook that caught my attention:
I’d love to put the experience of fifty years at once into your young hearts to give you at once the key to that treasure chamber every gem of which has cost me tears and struggles and prayers. ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe (Letter to daughters, Eliza & Hattie, 1862)
It seems to express a wish that is common to all loving parents, to spare their children from learning things the hard way, to let their children benefit from the parent’s experiences. But parents somehow know that this is not always possible or even to be desired. Children will have their own struggles choosing paths to follow, finding their own adventures in the world. Some of the hard-won gems in our own hearts are simply non-transferable, being unique to our individual personalities and the way we have come to terms with life as we find it.
In the middle of the day, I found myself pulling out a well used book my grandparents gave me when I was very young, two and a half years old. Wondering what gems my maternal grandparents were hoping to give me… A love of poetry, certainly. When I graduated high school, they gave me Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I soon found myself photographing the words my grandmother left on the title page for me to treasure some future day, which has come. When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne was my first volume of poetry.
Halfway down the stairs Is a stair Where I sit. There isn’t any Other stair Quite like It. I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top; So this is the stair Where I always Stop.
Halfway up the stairs Isn’t up, And isn’t down. It isn’t the nursery, It isn’t the town. And all sorts of funny thoughts Run round my head:
Well, I’m a sentimental sort, so I smiled at reading: “The beginning of a wonderful adventure – with Milne.“
Halfway Down was one of my favorites – how much I identified with that little person with all sorts of funny thoughts running round her head! When I was three years old we moved into the house my parents built themselves, and there was a staircase with a railing halfway up, open to the dining room. My sister and I were the youngest cousins on my father’s side of the family, and his relatives were a loud, boisterous and rather scary bunch, at least they seemed so to me, a frail sickly sensitive little girl, small for my age. Since relatives were packed into all the bedrooms for the duration there was no place for me to escape the over-stimulation! During their visits I sat on that halfway down stair for hours on end, except when required to eat or go to bed. I could lean back and hide behind the wall or lean forward and “spy” on the activities through the railing. On that stair, sometimes reading a book, I could “be” somewhere else instead.
By the time it came to start cooking dinner I was humming a Cat Stevens song from my teen years… Oh Very Young. Hmm — it would seem the day had a theme. There are days when I wonder what gems my grandparents would try to give me now, at this juncture in my life, if they could. Mid-life is kind of like that halfway down stair. I’m not old and I’m not young. I suspect there is no other stair in life, up or down from here, quite like it. A chance to stop and be anywhere, or somewhere else instead… Fading up to the sky like a pair of favorite old blue jeans…
Oh very young, What will you leave us this time? You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while And though your dreams may toss and turn you now They will vanish away like your daddy’s best jeans Denim Blue fading up to the sky And though you want them to last forever You know they never will – you know they never will And the patches make the goodbye harder still