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A MODERATELY ATYPICAL SUMMER

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Greetings Dear Readers! 

Across the meadow this morning, beyond the orange day lilies, red bee balm, and purple phlox, I can see two deer and a family of wild turkeys. All is quiet, except for the neighbor’s confused rooster who crows enthusiastically and incessantly, no matter the time. And thanks to my totally awesome new app “Merlin,” I can also identify the conversation of a red-eyed vireo, a tufted titmouse, and a pileated woodpecker.

I’ve just arrived back at my sweet little house in New Hampshire after a wild & crazy June and July, full of people and travel and what felt like great adventures — though pre-pandemic they wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary. 

I’ve been to North Carolina twice, to the Outer Banks and to my beloved Wild Goose Festival near Winston-Salem. I’ve seen nearly every member of my family, including my sister whom I hadn’t seen in ten years and a cousin I hadn’t seen in even longer. I explored dinosaurs, evolution, mass extinction, and climate science at the Smithsonian Museum with my oldest friend, and served two days of jury duty with some men I do not want for new friends.

Smithsonian Wanderings

ANSWERED PRAYERS

Like many of us, I’ve been left drained and deadened by the pandemic. For several years, I’ve felt stuck, flat-lined, uninspired to do anything, let alone help save our democracy or our planet. 

But finally, God has answered my desperate plea for renewed passion and a new vision of what I am meant to be doing in these precarious times. I’m not yet ready to write about it, but I hope to share in the months to come. There are ducks to line up and God’s timing always has its way, but the Wild Goose Festival provided new connections, creative energy, and much-needed hope. I am spirit-charged and ready to go! 

Goose Gals!

Another answered prayer took the form of a phone call from my dermatologist announcing a “moderately atypical” mole that is not dangerous. Phew! Last year, her phone call announced “squamous cell cancer” which was not nearly so welcome. Not only did she send me off to New Hampshire worry-free, she gifted me with a new favorite phrase to describe myself and my life: moderately atypical. It fits. 

On My Atypical Way Again

Day before yesterday, I stood on the shoulder of I-90 in Massachusetts staring at my flat tire as tractor trailers plummeted down a steep hill towards me and a gritty wind whipped my face. Forty minutes later, my rescuers had dragged a spare tire from the hatch, mounted it, and then stayed to repack my belongings. The state trooper held two boxes of houseplants, a cheerful white orchid blossom bobbing about her face. The bemused and be-greased truck driver cradled a crumpled plastic four-pack of wilting parsley and decrepit thyme. When my backseat garden had been safely tucked in, the trooper got in her car and set the lights flashing.

“Moderately atypical,” I said to my cat Alice as I buckled up, eased into traffic, and headed north.

Just One of My Moderately Atypical Neighbors

Finding Hope This Fourth of July

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Happy Independence Day. I guess. It hardly feels worth celebrating this year, unlike last year when the vast majority of Americans celebrated the end of trump’s reign with a heartfelt “PHEW!” By last 4th of July, the trauma of the insurrection had begun to fade and denial was settling in, at least in my beleaguered brain. 

One year later, it’s hard to deny that the trump damage is wide and deep and lasting — for all of us, but especially for women and for the poor among us, who are hardest hit when voting and abortion rights are denied and the climate crisis worsens. 

IS THE SUN SETTING ON OUR REPUBLIC?

Life is overwhelming lately, right? I’ve had to abandon this blog post several times. Finding solid words to stand on is difficult, as I stumble between disbelief and grief, outrage and numbness, shock and hardened cynicism. Cynicism is the most dangerous, because it kills hope, and without hope we don’t vote and we don’t march and we don’t show up. And we “writing activists” don’t write. 

A STRONG DOSE OF HOPE

Thank God for Cassidy Hutchinson, who offered a strong dose of hope to those who seek truth and justice in the wake of the January 6th attempted coup. (Which is, let’s not kid ourselves, ongoing.) Everyone says her testimony was “shocking” and “stunning.” I suppose in a normal world, that would be so, but the most shocking part to me was that I wasn’t shocked.

A WOMAN OF COURAGE

As alarming as Hutchinson’s testimony was, none of it was out of character for the 45th president. Not the rage, the violence, the pettiness, the crazy. Not even the part where he demanded metal detectors be dismantled so that an armed mob could enter the ellipse and make a better photo op for him before descending on the Capitol building where the entire Congress and the Vice President were doing the work of democracy. 

OK, that particular bit did shock me. But not because of trump’s treasonous behavior — I just did not expect the Committee to hand the Department of Justice such a clear smoking gun. (Never has “smoking gun” been a more apt metaphor.)

WOMEN OF COURAGE

So if not shock, then what was my overwhelming feeling as I watched that brave 25 year-old woman raise her hand and risk her career — and perhaps her very life — for love of country? As she promised to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to that even braver 55 year-old woman from Wyoming who daily takes those same risks, only on steroids? I felt grief. Deep grief for our nation. I was surprised by my tears. My hard trump-shell cracked. Most of us knew we were in great peril when that man took over, but I honestly never imagined. And trust me, I thought I was fearing the worst. 

Let me be clear: I’m not saying Hutchinson and Cheney are heroes. They enabled and abetted trump every step of the way. Until they didn’t. They are courageous and they are strong and their bravery may save what’s left of democracy. Thank God for them, and may others follow their lead. But let’s not call them heroes. They and their ilk are largely responsible for America’s minority overrunning the majority, and for the Supreme Court’s dismantling of our freedom and independence just in time for the Fourth of July, 2022.

PRAYERS AND SPIT

I pray fervently for our nation this Fourth. Most especially for the direct victims of the Court’s recent rampage through our life, liberty and happiness: My heart is with all women — especially low-income women — and with Black voters, Native Americans, and kids who fear getting blown to bits at school. And of course my heart hurts for every living creature threatened by the Court’s choice of corporate profits and climate chaos over life. Amen.

Let’s celebrate this day with intention and determination and courage. May we all spit in the face of fear and take a hard hold on hope this Fourth of July.

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