June. It used to be the month we celebrated my husband Richard, first as a father on Father’s Day, and then a week later for his birthday. Now it is a month for memories and four years after his death, sweet nostalgia. My daughters and I have each our own Papa-stories and I look forward to sharing some of them with his grandsons as they grow older. I am thinking today of our time down by the Sawkill river that bordered my grandmother’s field in Shady, N.Y. We moved boulders out of the way together to make small swimming holes contained by our newly constructed rock dam. We often cavorted there as teenagers, young adults, and later as parents when we brought our two daughters to experience the joys of a Catskill mountain stream.
I have always been stunned by the unfolding beauty of June. The excitement of early spring bursts of color gives way to fully leafed trees, exuberant newborn critters, and a steady progression of flowers no longer worried about sudden frosts but perhaps a dry spell. So far, we are experiencing unusually hot weather for northeast Ohio but nothing like the deadly heat in the south and west of the country. We also do not lack for water where I am- Kendal at Oberlin was built on wetlands which required strict legal adherence to the proper way to construct our seven ponds around the campus. Water lilies abound at the edges of the ponds and the waterfowl have easy access to the grass and lawns that surround them. Rows of goslings line up behind goose and gander for swimming and grazing lessons, with little regard to our human presence. Frogs glurk and croak while the occasional turtle steadfastly makes its way across your path. June.
In contrast to this orderly blossoming, our world is painfully engaged in war, political, and financial upheaval, while COVID still flourishes in its destiny of viral mutation. Islands of sanity prevail as the January 6th committee hearings are staged for primetime American audiences- but who knows if reason-based reality TV will make a difference when it comes time to vote. Our Ohio governor has made it legal for schoolteachers to have 24 hours of training for them to have guns in the classroom. It is very hard to bear the mentality that supports such thinking. It is easy to say things like America values guns over children. Or that it is easier for an angry young man to get legal assault rifles than a frightened young woman to get an abortion. True, as of right now, but I am wary of all reductionistic thinking. I do not want to feed soundbites on either side.
I know where I stand but find the work of keeping my mind and heart open as we head into this heat wave of anger a fulltime background to my daily life. Getting outside on my scooter as often as I can to circle Kendal’s campus is my touchstone to ground that inner work. I have been writing many haikus whenever a thought strikes me. I write about everyday happenings and find the structure of limited syllables a great support in saying what I mean to say in a clear and direct manner. So, I’ll end with this one from May:
Morning Raga 5/23/22
The drone is mowers
Songs of praise from all the birds
The tabla, my heart