Here in fly-over land we’ve had a beautiful spate of clear, sunshiny days, low humidity, fresh breezes. The last few days especially, the sky has looked like a clear polished gem winding us around a god’s finger. Monarchs arrived earlier than I’ve seen in years, flitting among the huge stand of milkweed populating our patch of boulevard. For a brief moment, I imagined the world was saved. Farms worldwide had outlawed neoniconicides, and soon all would be well with bees, butterflies, not to mention those of us on two legs who depend on water sources and soil and air.That fantasy dissipated as I walked down the block and found two car/trucks idling their engines as the occupants stood outside and gabbed. Where were the environment police?
Out back, high clouds of green have taken over the sky. I dream up into them, remembering “green, how I love you, Green” (Neruda) while beside me Julia hums her own purr of pleasure. From the bird feeders we catch chickadees’ deep-in-the-throat gurgle, and gold and rosy finch chatter, and the squawks of many many woodpeckers stabbing at suet. Truly I’ve seen more downy and hairy woodpeckers than ever before at our summer feeders, while the dozens of finches pile onto the open-work sunflower cage like starving immigrants just off the boat.
I’ve been listening for birds that hide in the shrubbery–cat birds and wrens. They’re back, just not where they were last year, but within range of my feet. Once I saw four wrens slice across a nearby alley and into a bush, chattering up a storm. They’re so sassy, these little mites, but also hard to pin down, with nothing of a robin’s sedate saunter from yard to yard.
No one has died, no one was struck by lighting, no one ran out of gas on the freeway. The daughter, for her birthday, is going to Sicily in October, on her mother’s dime, and I, the mother, could not be happier. At first she and I talked about going together, but when I saw her excitement, meeting her friends in Western Massachusetts, I knew instantly who her companions should be. “It’s a trip of a lifetime,” she just wrote me from Minneapolis. Well, maybe not of a lifetime, but of this moment. She works so hard, and she’s such a good “mom” to two dogs and two cats, not to mention such a good daughter to divorced parents. It’s time to get away, so far away that until a few months ago she had never hear of the town where her tour will be based–Taromina, on the west coast of Sicily, above sun-bright sea with a real volcano rising in the distance–Mt. Etna.
But not all sudden visitations are so happy. Four days ago I woke with such agony in my eyes I felt sure they’d split open. The “layers of my cornea had come unstuck.” This has happened before, enough times that every night, I apply eye ointment and every morning use artificial tears to help the lids open without dislodging the fragile layers with their bursts of pain. But this pain was not a burst. It was an eruption–wave after wave. I walked around with my head down and begged the gods for mercy. Next day the eyes were red, lids swollen. Pink eye. Common disease of kindergarten. Had I shaken the hands of any kindergarteners?
The nurse at CVS Mini Clinic knew just what to order. Now three days later, hours pass and I’m only minimally aware of being somewhat challenged by light, or wind or fatigue. Imagine a staple being suddenly driven into the eye, and you have the agony that was mine, but now has passed. I won’t wish it on anyone. Except to wonder who wished it on me and spitefully plan ways to return the favor in spades once I find out.