I took out my ukulele this morning and started strumming. My favorite song to play is "Angel of the Morning" - not the Juice Newton version, but the Merrilee Rush version, which goes a little better with a ukulele accompaniment.
I'm debating whether to take my ukulele with me to Pennsylvania. I imagine myself sitting and playing as people happen into my talk and explaining that my talk has nothing to do with the ukulele, but that it calms me.
I find calm is what we need these days, because there seem to be a lot of things that could really freak us out, if we let them.
I read an article yesterday that stated 1 in 7 Americans are currently receiving food stamps. It's not something I see much of in my personal life. I'm pretty well isolated here in my ivory tower in the suburbs where the flowers are (literally) growing and the bees (also literally) buzzing. Most of what I know about what's going on is from reading the news and other blogs.
What's confusing sometimes is that I'm a huge fan of history, and so a great many of the books I read are historical fiction, memoirs, or history (right now I'm reading Charles Mann's 1491, Pearl S. Buck's A House Divided, and as a read-aloud with my daughters Elizabeth George Spears' Calico Captive). I find these historical references very useful, especially when they describe ordinary human struggling, because it's good to see how resilient and innovative people can be. Because I read a lot about what was, sometimes I get confused when I'm reading about what is.
This morning I was meandering through the blogosphere and on one blog a highlighted paragraph talked about the drought. The local feed store is closed and farmers are selling off or slaughtering their animals. I had to read it three times, and then, I had to look at the date five times, because I thought I must be reading an archived news article from seventy-five years ago. No, it's real, and it's now.
It's real, and it's now.
One in seven Americans need a food subsidy because they can't afford to buy food.
I was looking at my garlic stores the other day - contemplating. Do I take bulbs from the biggest heads to plant, or do I buy seed? It's nearly time to plant the garlic, which I seed in the fall and harvested in the early summer. The acorns are dropping, and it looks to be a good acorn year, which is good for us, as foragers, but if tales be true is the harbinger of a hard winter, which is not good for us, because our wood pile is a little slimmer than, perhaps, we'd like it to be.
I planted peas the other day - yes, in August. Crazy, right? I didn't know what to expect. Peas are cold-loving plants. It's not cold, yet, but as we move closer to the autumn equinox, the nights get colder, which is just what peas like. They've sprouted, and the lettuce I planted in early Aguust is threatening to bolt.
None of this, necessarily, goes together, and this isn't, perhaps, a puzzle to be solved, but just little snippets of what I think about as I sit in my office in the early morning, sipping tea and strumming my ukulele.
On the other hand, perhaps, it does all go together - this reading articles about hunger and growing peas in my yard, in Maine, in September. Maybe there is some message in my madness (I know the phrase is "method to my madness", but allow me some poetic license) - it's not too late to start doing something. Maybe it's never, really, too late, and the old saying about teaching old dogs new tricks is simply a pessimistic untruth.
In that respect, then, all of it does, kind of, fit like a neat little puzzle - strumming my ukulele, sipping tea and watching as the rising sun's rays touch the little pea shoots. I'm not young, by any stretch of the imagination. In short, this old dog is learning, every day, and my ivory tower may come crashing down, but in the remnants of my entitled suburban world you'll find me, tiptoeing through the garden, singing to the peas ... to make them grow bigger, of course.