PeerSpirit Newsletter – The Owl and the Tree August 2021
The Usual/Unusual Summer
by Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea
The normalcy/celebration side included a lovely week with the grandchildren — Jaden (now 16) and Ann (now 72) went salmon fishing every morning. On the last morning, before going to the airport, his persistence and learning curve paid off with a five-pound pink and a “high-five” to the LA city boy from the line-up of old salts along the beach.
Meanwhile, Sasha (now 10), Vivi (now 1.5) and Christina (now 75) did beach and puppy strolls, collage, cooking. There was Uno and Ticket to Ride, streaming Netflix, and rambling conversations before and after their screen time.
Then, almost miraculously, on August 7, overnight we had nearly a half inch of rain. It still rains in western Washington! We are relieved, grateful and reminded that there is SOME normalcy in a dry July and August and overarching weather patterns seem to be holding. But we don’t know for sure. What is normal?
Last week we noticed a sign in the local grocery store explaining the empty shelf space: “There has been a Covid outbreak at the distribution center, sorry for the inconvenience.” Yikes. I know this town where the regional food warehouse is located. The warehouse is the replacement industry for lost logging jobs. Vaccination rates are low. Politics is red. Delta outbreak is high. These are people on the economic edge who need to work to support their families.
We hear tourists — people who whip off their masks on the ferry, glad to be out of whatever city they come from — proclaim their right to bare-face-it on vacation. They complain that the fish aren’t running when they have time to fish. Nobody cued the orcas to swim by so they could show their grandchildren from the balcony of the VRBO. The service is too slow at the coffee stand.
Here are messages we want to convey:
- We who live here want to stay healthy, so please be more careful of our community, not less. We will do the same if we come to your community.
- The fish are on their own schedule, and the orcas are hungry and verging on collapse. Keep the pinks, throw the Chinooks (their food source) back.
- Enjoy the beauty of our shoreline and meditate on preserving this for future generations.
- Slow service is still service. People are serving you under difficult conditions, and often with a gracious smile. Tip them, thank them.
- Stitch the social environment in every way you can, don’t rend it. Compassion, not judgment: let’s hold ourselves to higher standards of kindness at this time.
We are in this together: and no one knows where we are. Ambiguity is strenuous.
Trying to restore pre-pandemic order in our lives — from the personal to the societal — is pounding a square peg in a round hole. We can pound all we want — it won’t fit. We’ll shatter the peg or shatter the hole; we’ll break the hammer or hurt our arm. But no matter how frustrated or determined we are: what doesn’t fit into the New Now doesn’t fit. And that peg/that hole/our stamina is changing daily.
We two are vaccinated. We live in a vaccinated bubble and neighborhood. Our friends and family are vaccinated. We managed to travel this summer: to see cousins, to have a family reunion, a memorial service (read Ann’s blog) and a wedding. We did not get sick, nor spread sickness. We followed changing protocols, erring on the side of caution and common good.
We are in this together — and no one knows where we are. We need to move slowly, to pay attention, to be willing to change plans as conditions change — and be patient!
“When you are lost,” says Ann who has been a wilderness guide since the age of sixteen, “the most reliable action is to stop and look around, assess where you are, and if you can’t get your bearings — sit down and rest.”
It’s okay to be lost. Drink water, eat some almonds and dried fruit, take stock, help is on the way — from inside your intuition, or from around you from emerging wisdom and logic.