The New Year

We have already stepped into the new year on Day 2. It is as full of unknowns as any other year, only it includes unsavory ingredients we’d rather not have to cook with. Yet here we go into the kitchen. The old adage is that we cannot control events, but only control how we respond to them. We certainly cannot control how others respond to them which has caused friction between family members and friends over the holidays. Plans resist fluidity and last minute adaptations which are the only sensible means of navigating our way through the turmoil caused by flight cancellations, sniffles that turned out to be COVID, or that one of the people in a proposed gathering is suddenly far more cautious than the others. Did you get tested? When? Do you trust the test?

Standing up for your beliefs around preventing the transmission of the Omicron variant can be pitted as “wrong” against a differing point of view. Feelings are hurt when you are not validated, and given the amount of disinformation and shifting timelines of valid scientific recommendations that are out there, one could pick and choose ‘proofs’ that are contradictory. “Too many cooks do not just spoil the broth”, but may inadvertently spread the virus.

What to do? The future has other unpleasant variables that cannot be ignored. The political fragility of democracy in America, the planetary crisis that is ever growing in intensity, and the deleterious ripple effects of human beings living on a constant edge with one another all contribute to a sense of overwhelm. Our personal dramas continue against the struggling world. One day I feed on the sugar of my delicious baby grandson, and the next I have no appetite because my good friend at Kendal has a 99% sure diagnosis of pancreatic cancer with perhaps some months to live. The full test results are still not in.

All of us have a tory to tell. All of us have had to cope and flex and renegotiate our priorities. I encourage everyone to find ways to share the stress with trusted people in your lives. As a natural introvert, I am learning to reach out more to others. Despite my physical limitations, it nourishes me to open my heart to listen to the complaints, worries, and struggles that fellow Kendalites are dealing with. It is a mutual human need to share. I take my own turn within my closest circle. I also will restart therapy sessions with the wonderful psychologist that works at Kendal. She and I are on similar spiritual paths and having lost Richard as my intimate partner, I know how easy it is for me to glide over the bumps in my road without paying attention. And I do want to pay attention.

I sat down to write a song for the New Year. I wrote several versions and scrapped them all until this one got baked into a satirical cake. Some of you already heard this song and I am working with a techie friend in a few weeks to be able to warble the melodies for you to hear on the blog.

New Year Waltz 2022 by Judi Bachrach

Here we are waltzing into a new year.
Do we drink champagne?
Do we cry in our beer?
It’s hard to get cheerful
or any more tearful
We’ve all heard an earful about this past year.

We can try dancing while six feet apart.
It won’t stop the beating 
of my loving heart.
Counting out 1,2,3
starts us off swimmingly.
No stepping on toes, we’re apart from the start.

Singing inside the K 95 mask.
I can’t understand you 
or tipple from my flask.
But you don’t want my spit,
Or risk us both getting sick
Keeping us healthy is quite the dry task.

Let’s waltz out the old and sing in the new.
There’s no looking back
Skip the year in review.
Moving ahead
means more zooming in bed.
So let’s waltz out the old and sing in the new.
Let’s waltz out the old and sing in the new.


I received this short prayer yesterday. (Thank you Judith G.)
In all bodies health
In all hearts, love
In all lives, joy
In all the world, peace.

Big Tiny News

I have never written about my year in review before, I think because I always seem invested in what keeps unfolding right in front of me. I’ll initiate writing about this year and see where it leads me.

It has been a very hard year for most of us. As safe and healthy and boostered as Kendal is, there are breakthrough COVID cases occurring and we have staff shortages, food supply issues, rising costs, and unexpected crisis to address just like everywhere else. We are becoming more resourceful, thrifty, and engaged in novel ways. New residents arrive and deal with the reality of Kendal today as opposed to the more open and dynamic Kendal they remembered from pre-pandemic times. Still, no one has yet died because of COVID, though some have passed with COVID as a co-morbid condition. We all do come here to live well and then to die, with the support and care of those who are employed by Kendal. Every single person has gone above and beyond their original job descriptions, including the residents. It is inspiring and it has been challenging and occasionally daunting to keep rising to the occasion.

We move on, and I have to say we seem to be a quieter community. There is less visible bustling activity though we strive to keep functioning, advising, entertaining, and engaging ourselves in new venues. We interact more online and also with some hybrid committee meetings. Gradually we congregate in person, masking carefully, with people holding microphones for us rather than passing them around as we sing or come to share an event. When a positive diagnosis is declared among residents or staff in the more restrictive Care Center where I live, we don’t shut down completely anymore. We cannot keep preventing visitations from friends and family and ask only that people show a negative test result before they come inside our living spaces. So far, this system is working.

As I wrote in my last blog, my personal health issues have meant that I am once again adapting to my own changes. I try to take on each day with open assessments gauging how much I can safely do. Perhaps I am once more stabilizing a little and the last few days I have tolerated being busier with fewer repercussions. Holiday greetings are given and received, and I am able to meet more friends face to face. When I ventured outdoors on my electric scooter in the unusually warm December weather, I heard lawn mowers at work and delighted in the fresh cut grass perfume.

I have saved the biggest tiny news for last. I have a new grandson, Sebastian, born on 12/8/21. He is healthy and gorgeous, and tiny and vulnerable and has completely reorganized his new household as newborns do. His two-year-old brother Max initially responded in Hallmark moments of gentle interactions, curiosity, and with his one-and-two-word vocabulary, began to process actually seeing the baby brother that everybody had been talking about for so long. “Mama home. Hosible.  Doctor. Tummy. Empty. Baby brudder. Sebastian.” Then he sucked his thumb and thought about things for a minute. He reached over and touched his brother lying across his mother’s lap and his own legs. “Eyes. Nose. Mouth. Arm.” He gently pointed to and touched all the parts and thought about things some more. And life went on as he climbed off the couch and ran around to play.

Mild jealousy is slowly creeping in after six days of sharing his home. Max is by nature a thoughtful child but- he is also two years old when conquering the world and identifying it all as his, is exactly the right developmental behavior. As all siblings know, time will lead them on a journey of rivlary and love and sharing their childhood experiences together with their parents. I am delighted to be able to watch their paths unfurl for as long as I am around to watch them grow up together. I can’t wait to see who Sebastian is in his own right. He was born with startling platinum blond hair- a great thatch of it. It will likely darken over time, maybe replaced with darker hair altogether, or maybe he will retain this glowing angelic mop. I am not posting pictures to respect the family’s privacy, but this grandmother says he is truly adorable.

Meanwhile I am a happy grandmother and so proud of my daughter and son-in-law as they navigate the realities of an infant and a toddler and jobs and childcare in the midst of the turbulent world that we all share. I am stretching my heart open and holding the sobering crisis of our country and planet at the same time. I endeavor to witness, breathe, stay present, and live as fully as I can without despair or feeding fear and dread into the world my grandsons are inheriting. Life goes on and I get off the couch and go play even as a big, tiny, viral unknowable has taken up permanent residence in my world.

Back again

I haven’t stopped writing I just was not finding my way to enter it into a post. Some of the hiatus was about a month of bad pain. My old back issues reconfigured as a neurological condition called caudus equinus. The caudus is the end of the spinal cord and equina is named for the “horsetail” of nerves that emerge from there. The symptoms are evidenced in a particular pattern from the low back into all the areas of the body that would touch a saddle if you happened to be sitting on one. Given the pain, numbness and tingling that result from this rare condition, having had MS and spinal stenosis in the past (no longer active), no one could have spotted it within those conditions until now. In my case, I believe my caudus is recently inflamed increasing pre-existing old symptoms to flare up. I also managed to displace some ribs while leaning over my windowsill (!) and the pain from my chest merged with the inflammation in my back and instead of two separate hot fireplaces of pain, I was one conflagration. I was on painkillers for a while which greatly reduced the fires and then I could feel the slight return of sensation in my equina nerves again. In any event, I am back to my basic back pain which is tolerable, and I am able to increase my mobility and sit up at the computer to write more.

I will include one of my favorite summer poems that I wrote from a collection called Stopping by Ponds on a Summer Morning (homage to Mr. Frost).

6/12/21

Day Makers at Buttonbush Pond

The conductor raises his baton

from absolute stillness

the whispering chatter

of surrounding leaves

drops with the breeze

then

we begin

lone percussive woodpecker

bass gulp of a frog

buzz of insects

warning cry of a redwing blackbird

chuckling robin

myriad trills and chirps

fugues interweave

my breath and heartbeat

part of the orchestral morning

brought to you by

Day Makers

Judi Bachrach

I also include the lyrics of a song that took months to emerge, just in time to sing for the holidays. Next year I have a friend who is going to help me set up a podcast so that I can sing my songs or recite a poem as well as write them down to share. I am no singer, but I write songs in my head and sing them since nobody else can do it for me. Here is the song:

Find Your Way Children, Children

Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Children, find your way





Maybe you’ll climb a mountain

Maybe you’ll cross the sea

Maybe you’ll stay and plant your garden

Wherever you may be

Don’t let fear hold you back

Or tell you what to do





Anger only grows in fear and

Anger will poison you





Reach for love to make real changes

Love makes your dreams come true

Reach for love, love, love, yes, love will see you through




Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Children, find your way





If you slide back down the mountain

You lose what you thought you had

Your ship won’t sail, your garden won’t grow

The whole world makes you sad





Don’t let sorrow hold you back

Or tell you what to do

Embrace your sorrow, you will find

More joy inside of you





Reach for joy to make real changes

Joy makes your dreams come true

Reach for joy, joy, joy, yes, joy will see you through





Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Children, find your way





If your heart is broken

If your body fails

No more gardens, no more mountains

No more ships to sail





Pain is all you’re feeling

Feeling pain just everywhere

Ask for help and it will come

Don’t give up, and don’t despair





Reach for one thing that you’re thankful for

Giving thanks is what you can do

Reach for gra-ti-tude, yes, giving thanks will see you through





Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Find your way children, children

Children, find your way





If people are always fighting

If people are always at war

If people are always greedy

Always hateful, grabbing more





Don’t let the war inside your heart

Or let fighting be your way

Stand up strong where peace must start

Inside you every day





Be the peace to make real changes

Make your dreams of peace come true

Be the peace, peace, peace, be the peace that lives in you





Find the love children, children

Find the joy children, children

Give your thanks children, children

Children, live in peace





Find the love children, children

Find the joy children, children

Give your thanks children, children

Children, live in peace

Judi Bachrach

Finally, here is my poem with my friend Rebecca Cardozo’s marvelous photos which is part of Kendal’s Winter Solstice celebrations. Once more it will be part of an inhouse TV channel prerecorded program though we are inching closer to auditorium gatherings once again.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1V1_lBDXi9lXJkcMcVr9uracP9DJd3Z2O/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=100755859289511988714&rtpof=true&sd=true

Click on the link or Copy this link and see if it opens for you. Glad to be sharing here once more. More coming….

The Trip Not Taken

Diary 9/12/21                                 

On September 13th 2001, my husband and I planned to leave for our meticulously planned two-week trip to Tuscany. It had been a delightful destination for him when he had gone years before with a male friend of ours. It had seemed the perfect place to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. We had to plan meticulously because although I was more mobile with my MS compromises twenty years ago, I still would have required a wheelchair for lengthy walking. And a wheelchair meant not having to traverse too many quaint cobblestone streets which meant a careful itinerary to share with me at least a few of his favorite locations and some brand-new ones. We found online international support for free wheelchairs to use on arrival at the airport. The map of Italy we had folded and unfolded to travel each road with our fingers was left worn and tattered during the months before the much-anticipated event.

September 11th. All flights were cancelled. Our friends in Europe, giving workshops or traveling, were frantic to come back home. Even if we had been able to fly out in in a few days’ time, it would have cut enough into our already short vacation time to render it moot. Every single Italian host and hostess in every venue refunded all of our deposits. There was a warm swathe of caring for Americans during this tragedy. They did not forget how many Americans had supported them and died during the war.

Besides, Richard and I both had psychotherapy clients directly and indirectly affected by this event. Calls started coming in over the next few weeks to begin coping with the unimaginable. Because Richard also had a Manhattan practice as well as the one we shared in upstate New York, a flood of new referrals kept calling him. Anxiety, despair, depression, grief, illness, rage, and PTSD all required his care. What was the loss of a balloon ride over vineyards and olive orchards landing in a field with a champagne breakfast compared to the losses endured in this deliberately public act of mass slaughter?

My father died in a car accident seventy years ago on the eleventh of September. I was born eleven days after he died with over one hundred bones broken in his body. My personal history of loss resurfaced for a while in the aftermath. Grief was heavy in the air along with the fumes of a desire for vengeance, a justifiable retaliation for The Enemy. The chaos of that time bleeds into the current situation of ever more catastrophic losses. Biden has touted the unity of our nation after 9/11. But the widely differing seeds of action to address terrorism were already there. The “patriotic” call for hate and violence vs. the call for genuine national/international political self-reflection for viable boundaries and repair was simmering. It boiled over into an ongoing largely fruitless war which further mucked up our image on the world stage. The long war cost the lives of many more thousands of civilians “over there” as well as leaving thousands of our own soldiers dead or maimed for life.

Those same divisions in the need for action now show up in our ‘war’ against each other with the foe being a deadly virus. Who do we hate, who do we blame, to whom do we deny any impulse of understanding, who do we manipulate into being an ally made in our image? How do we grab what we can while we can? How do we manage our own affairs, dire as they are? There are no easy, no quick, answers.

I do have faith that there is an order in the universe. Much of the time, I am as blind and wounded and overwhelmed as anyone in knowing where that coherence may be found. During the planetary chaos we are creating, it is only clear that each of us must find a center we can trust, hold to and act from. Surrendering to that point of singularity, the still stable point of infinite potential within myself, within us all, is the most important journey there is for me. May we be guided by Love in action.

Though in retrospect, I must say that our envisioned trip to Tuscany was the best trip that I never took. Despite the terrible associations, I still remember it fondly.

Another Anniversary

8/8/21

This morning I woke up feeling inexplicably happy. I don’t believe that I’ve heard a recommended time limit for widows to stop memorializing their wedding anniversary. Our wedding itself I have described in an earlier anniversary blog. I clearly remember several other special anniversary celebrations – our fifteenth in the backyard of our home in Red Hook N.Y. was a particularly joyful one with our older daughter and her cousins dashing around, and the one where Richard and I renewed our vows to one another inside the circle of hemlock bushes that were barely knee high in back in 1970. When we held a private recommitment ceremony, climbing back up the familiar wooded hillside in Shady, NY, the hemlocks were towering over us in their frothy greenery. Our fortieth was when we introduced our new son-in-law to our friends who didn’t attend the Texas wedding….well, there were all the other parties and special dinners on this date in August. I was always sure we’d at least reach our sixtieth anniversary, given that we were so young when we were married.

And that was not to be. Today is what would have been our fifty-first anniversary. I look at Richard’s photo taken in his fifties on the summit of Mt. Blanc straddling France, Italy, and Switzerland and I summon his visceral warmth through seeing his intensely present gaze. Dutch friends of ours had invited us to stay with them in their vacation home in France to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary and this picture I have on my bedside table was snapped by our friend Daphne on a daytrip to the mountain overlooking the entire area. It was our last big vacation and a joyful occasion to celebrate relationships.

Today, I am reflecting on the nature of love. The intimate dance of a marriage over years of sincere hard work tracks the growth of us as individuals and how we nurtured both of us within the partnership. To have been schooled in that university with Richard was such a gift. We received from and gave to each another in equal measure. Our strengths and weaknesses became less and less the focus of how to love and be loved. We cultivated the belief that love between us could become less conditional based on our behaviors, and more of a constant anchor, a given mutual well of sweet water always available to draw upon. As I was more and more challenged by my chronic declining health, we learned to navigate some rough roads. Parenting two very different daughters pulled us together as our priorities shifted as a family. When it was Richard who developed life threatening cancer, it was another huge lesson of how to stay in love, day to day, moment to moment, right up until his death.

During the periods of isolation during this pandemic, I am acutely aware of the loss of the deep and easy companionship that Richard and I had co-created. There is no one else in the world who can remember events and episodes the two of us shared over those many years. No one can ever walk with me again who could hold the depth of understanding of who and what I am becoming as I continue aging which he never will. No one else remembers our treasured private jokes and personal triumphs. I have dear old friends who knew Richard and me together from our early days, but theirs is still an outside perspective. Memories of that past life are now mine alone.

Today I am beginning to understand that the intimacy of love that I remember is still available to me. It Is not just based on shared life experiences. It is not just in relationship with another single human being, but within the single human being that I am. When I summon the love that I felt for and from Richard, it sets up a resonance within my body/mind/spirit. I had such very good training in the best of conditional human love, that exploring unconditional love leads me on, and takes my hand, my mind, and my breath away. I find that this love is not as confined nor is it dependent on anything or anyone else. It is often unnamed, simply showing up inside my room this morning or when I was outside looking at one of Kendal’s many ponds smelling so sweet after a rain-washed night. It is in my ninety-eight-year-old neighbor’s struggle to rise up out of her chair, the high school aged dining servers bringing me my dinner tray as we once again are unable to dine with others during the latest shutdown. Love is in the faces of the overworked short-staffed nurses as they are back to COVID testing us twice a week among all of their many other duties. We are united in love by hoping that no one else at Kendal tests positive. Love is listening to sad news reports as I sip my morning tea. Love is when I am wide open to living fully all that life entails.

A Reckoning

7/27/21                                             A Reckoning

The first Kendal resident (who is living in the Care Center) just tested positive for COVID. The community is shocked and saddened. Thankfully, this person is already recovering in a negative pressure room in a hallway specifically designed to prevent any possible spread of contagion.

We had been so careful and so lucky. We are sobered. We all slid back to stricter safety measures. We remember that vaccines are not 100% effective, that we produce fewer antibodies than the young, that the emerging variants are more contagious. I am restricted from accessing the rest of Kendal again for two weeks. But I am also well cared for, safe. I am trying to get my arms around the ongoing nature of our long journey. I am calling on the wisdom of love, the strength of compassion.

 Books of Reckoning

The gray fog of isolation swallowed you whole

weighed down by loneliness, severed by separation

arms and hands too disabled to reach out









Restrictions imposed on you slammed shut door after door

complaints erupted in helpless defiance of safety vs. freedom

the need to know whose facts justified those rules









You struggled to comprehend the sweep of what we lost

inspiring reinvention, rewiring, redesigning

seeking reconnections new and healthy

on top of still sturdy foundations









Despite these individual reactions inside of our community bubble

so far, not even one of us or those we gratefully employ

died from this still evolving virus









The days of reckoning our books, our health

find us in good standing so far

though it is not over, and we were never suffering alone









The world beyond lost millions- Millions-

one million children orphaned

half a million without grandparents

we all are orphaned by the loss of ideals, by kindness submerged in fearful hate









Losses-Losses-Losses

the entire World Body ravaged by a pandemic

reckoning results of ignorance and greed

that are not over

all is coming due… and yet









Look to our young and old hearts, shaped by this same sere crisis

unfold into the future

nothing is foretold

all is in the telling









May we be held accountable

May we be sustained through clear vision and nurturing

an abundance of true stories reckoned worthy to be told

around new hearths

for generations upon generations









by Judi Bachrach

Cosmic Dust

Diary 6/5/21

The end of June marks Richard’s birthday and a week later, Father’s Day. My daughters, my brother-in- laws, and I are all attuned to this bittersweet month of summer. His death is still a mystery in our hearts. It still stirs coals of hot loss and celebratory bonfires that carry sparks of memory up into the firmament. The Milky Way still glows, the dawn arrives with birdsong, the heat beneath the sun in a perfect blue sky exudes a lazy joy to the tune of lawnmowers and barking dogs. And wonder of wonders, Richard is still not here on this third anniversary of his birthday since his death.

Another member of my former tribe in New York state has died. Someone of my current tribe in Ohio dies almost every month. Kendal at Oberlin is a Continuing Care Retirement Community of over 350 folks, a CCRC. (In case you are looking at retirement communities, this is a good acronym to learn.) As one resident whispered to me in my first month here, “We come here to die.” That is so.

We also come to here to live our fullest lives until that event, and others have said to me, “Oh, I’ll never retire.” KAO is a dynamic interactive group of elders that fills an overflowing bowl of experiences and gifts that are generously shared in every aspect of human endeavors- scientists, mathematicians, political activists, professors and teachers of every stripe, working artists in every medium, therapists, ministers and more. Our evening programs (now shared on zoom or on our inhouse TV station initiated and created by our own tech people during the Covid19 lockdown) might present a trip to Amazonia showing the six orchids discovered and named after a resident, or clips of a professional canoeist and his white-water class five river rapid excursions on the Colorado River. Or there are recent performances of home grown plays, and musical offerings from a string quartet with a viola de gamba (played by the canoeist, also a former holistic chiropractor) to harpsichord concertos, to recorder ensembles. Another retired English teacher friend reads classic short stories at teatime on the TV channel once a month. Art shows adorn our walls and hallways. Small groups gather to their interests, and square dance, swim, paint, call local politicians, or meditate together. Regular committees run the business of Kendal in conjunction with staff and board members. It is a vibrant tribe that I have chosen to adopt as my home. Without Richard. This is my home.

That I can afford to be here in the Assisted Living wing is such a gift. It is certainly the high end of an eldering experience. Due to previous luck and hard work, I am grateful to be here every day. I can only wish that someday, my life will not be such an exclusive one- that our culture will look to support everybody’s gathered years of wisdom and contributions as we pass the baton on to the next generations. It is also part of KAO’s plan that we are close in every way to Oberlin College and that we have a preschool Children’s Learning Center housed within our campus. We have the opportunity to exchange our lives with all ages. We trek our past journeys with them and envision new ones that we will not live to see completed.

I have mentioned our weekly Song Swap led by my friend, Judy Cook, a working professional folksinger. We also share a smaller Ballad Song Night every other week. Our definition of a ballad is broad and so I wrote this quirky song celebrating Life/Death with Ballad Night in mind. I’ll sing it to our crew next week and see how it goes over before I dare sing it at Song Swap which is broadcast to the whole community. Since there is a large diversity of beliefs, religions, and atheists at KAO, I wanted to find a way to express my own values in language that remains inclusive when addressing death, which flowers quietly in my June heart.





Cosmic Dust                            by Judi Bachrach 5/31/21

One of these days I’m gonna close my eyes

for me that day, the sun won’t rise

but for you, the sun, will go, right on shining

Clouds will come and clouds will go

some cry rain and some cry snow

we search, to find, any kind of-silver lining

Chorus:

We are made of cosmic dust

just like our shining star

When we die- look to the light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust- light to light

that’s who and what we are

The sun shines down on everyone

saints and sinners, old and young

We all, tumbled out, of the same pocket

Now I hardly leave the ground

I used to fly all around

inside, my very own- human rocket

Chorus:

I was born to live, I was born to die

I was born to keep on asking why

The answer comes- find your joy, in love

Everything else, does not last

I learned that slow, I learned that fast

Joy shines, on earth, same as- the sun above

Chorus:

Between our first and final breath

Sing of life and sing of death

Find delight in every song we sing

Make a joyful noise when it’s time to go

Sing high and sweet, sing soft and low

Become the bell to swell your heart- to ring

Chorus:

We are made of cosmic dust

just like our shining star

When we die- look to the light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust- light to light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust, light to light

that’s who and what we are

Spring Bride

The doors to our Stephen’s Care Center area where I live in Kendal at Oberlin, were finally reopened on the 1st of May. They had opened for a few days and had to close after a staff member who worked among us tested positive for Covid. Now again we were able to move around the rest of our community. Several people stopped to say- “Oh- you have stepped out of your zoom box. Amazing!” It was a terrific feeling to be part of the whole and to freely speak to others free of being timed or escorted as we had been according to Ohio health mandates.

On the day before Mother’s Day I was picked up by my son-in-law to spend a week at his home with my daughter and grandson. I no longer have to quarantine inside my room for two weeks on my return to Kendal. I hope to return here for weekends around the influx of friends finally able to come and visit them and for their own summer travels to visit friends and family in Texas. My time here is full of the delight of watching my grandson and his parents grow as a family unit. I am so nourished to partake of the flow of life in a vibrant young household.

Spring Bride 5/1/21 to the open doors in SCC at KAO

A redbud tree from the garden plot next door

has dumped a flower girl basket of pink petals

all over my patch of brown mulch

I looked to see if I could catch a glimpse

of Spring’s bride passing down the aisle

I saw a brownish fuzzy creature

perched between my stone frog’s bulbous eyes

turning its head from side to side

joining me in my search

With binoculars in hand

I saw it was a juvenile robin

half downy feathers

fluffed out against the stiff breeze

Darts of sunlight streaked over his head

disguised as goldfinches

flitting back and forth to ride the swinging birdfeeder

the robin’s ground-feeding parents

likely raised him on their fallen seeds

A small rabbit scurried across the ground right in front of him

likely late, late, for a very important date

and without his parents

the robin fluttered

off to find his fortune

Looking across the road at the trees

waving wildly with the groom’s sprouting new green love

their joyous uplifted arms

may already have welcomed the bride

and I may have missed her earliest procession

Sister Summer wafts along behind

and by her grace I renew my life vows 

once again released from these quarantined halls

I see the wind has already swept away every last petal

making way for new paths

Judi Bachrach

Freedom

How do I engage with inner freedom that is stable, independent of outer circumstances?

Outwardly, my life in the care center is shifting. Now we can rejoin the larger community and though we are all vaccinated, we from the care center must wear masks at all times, and stay distanced. To sit outside in the sun chatting with a friend, looking out on the pond in front of the main entry to Kendal, with no one to time me, or escort me, was like being on vacation. I relaxed in ways I hadn’t known I was missing. It has been very nourishing.

What is freedom? I wouldn’t recognize this gift if I didn’t already know it deep inside. Gratitude for the slow reintegration with other Kendal residents is blooming with the tulips.

Though still masked and distanced, I am reveling in new-found freedoms. leaving the care center to see the campus, friends, and community gathering areas once again.

Molting Goldfinch

I am shedding

my olive drab winter feathers

growing new ones of

aconite, forsythia, crocus, daffodil yellow

glinting in the spring sunshine

I dominate the bird feeder

propagate my species

crack open my sunflower seeds

while she delights in watching me

her seeds from a package

on top of her morning oatmeal

She is also molting

shedding gray prohibitions

of a pandemic

and growing new feathers

of golden hope

in trust for her species

I write from Ohio and am not sitting beside Lake Erie, but my body knows the waves.

Sitting on the Shore

4/7/21

Yesterday in the high wind

thoughts rose up

rising from the surf

of a thousand white stallions

crashing down on the shore

their flashing hooves

disappearing into sand

the foam sizzling away

only to arise and return

over and over again

Today my feelings are at low tide

the gentle slap and sigh

slap and sigh

lulled by waves

that come and go

to and fro

freely within

the greater body 

Sitting still

I gaze

beyond the horizon

from east to west

sitting still

what remains

beyond rocks that spawn each earthy grain of sand

beyond drops of all the rippling waters, salted and fresh

beyond photons of light radiating from our star’s fire

beyond molecules of oxygen blending into outer space

Sitting firm and utterly still

breathing in and out

freely like waves

within the greater body

Judi Bachrach

Flight

Diary 3/22/21

I have been a grouchy bear this week. I felt the spring call to emerge from my cave as usual but- the assisted living cave administrators are still bound to impose muzzling face masks, fenced in the enclosed garden, and no interactions with other any of the other bears in their independent living caves even though we have all been vaccinated. The rising sap has irritated me in ways I did not anticipate.

As I look towards July 4th weekend, which Biden bids us to hopefully celebrate as close to normal as possible, it reminds me that date will mark the start of my third year at Kendal. The continued restrictions confine my memories and my heart hurts. The arrival of spring used to mark lambing season for our flock of 23 Icelandic sheep, the transformation of fluffy peeping chicks into feathered hens, the yearly care for our horses, the careful transplanting of indoor seedlings and direct seeding of flowers and vegetables into the garden each according to their own temperature needs.

That connection to the seasons regarding working the earth and tending to animals under our care is gone. And truthfully, my own body was failing way before I moved preventing me from my attending to the active life of a homesteader. I was not aware of how much it all grounded and nourished me until this spring. My childhood and most of my adult life with Richard all happened in the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. The Catskills are ancient rounded mountains. The energy there stood firm beneath my feet and was slow, measured, and weighted with a deep gravitas that rose up through the forests as they also embodied the seasonal changes of the northeast. Northeast Ohio has a very different feel altogether.

Kenda was built mostly on wetlands requiring the creation of seven different ponds. Settlers coming to what is now Cleveland, died by the droves of malaria. This is a wet claylike area south and west of Lake Erie with a lot of sandstone in various counties. The local wildlife no longer offers emerging black bears looking to raid our garbage deli for their spring hunger, nor are there wild turkeys scrabbling their scant nests to lay their eggs helter-skelter beneath some hemlock tree, or coyotes or foxes drooling for chickens- but there are a few deer, bunnies, muskrats, chipmunks, squirrels and a large variety of birds. Geese and ducks on the ponds, including a brief touchdown of trumpeter swans last week, complete the list and l have heard of the troublesome raccoons and skunks from those living in cottages around the far end of campus.

I have not yet had the opportunity to get around the campus (see grouchy bear above) and can only hope the new Covid19 mandates will loosen up our restrictions by the summer. Meanwhile the sun resurrects emerging growth everywhere as Eastertide approaches.

Hallelujah.

Diary 3/24/21

I am glad I waited to post the above. Today the amendments to our Ohio nursing home mandates arrived in full- in two weeks we will be allowed to leave the Care Center hallways- masked and distanced in the presence of our independent living residents- but we can go down to the central meeting area of Kendal to meet friends there. Best of all, we can be free of our own caves and venture out onto the entire campus to meet friends anywhere outdoors as well. My grouchy bear is rumbling with pleasure and anticipation. Visiting with my family will still be a timed, well sanitized, bureaucratic affair, with lots of paperwork for the staff to be able to track possible infectious problems and my daughter and grandson will be escorted to and from my room or even to outdoor assigned areas- but if the trend of less illness and hospitalizations continue all around us, eventually this, too, shall pass.

Sounds of Flight

The flight paths

are noisy again

birds returned to summer here

they weave a hammock of sound

that rocks me

before sunrise

air friction of larger manmade wings

have bested Covid withdrawal

to tear through the sky

ripping away away away

free to come and go

I prefer the bird sounds

but then again

nested on the ground

I am not yet

ready to fly