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myths. [d.r. thursday]

he reassured me that – were we to be lost in the woods, deep in the forest, without our alltrails app, without google maps, without a gps of any sort – we could determine north by the side of the trees on which the lichen was growing. “that will be the north side,” he told me, adding, “and with that important information, we would be able to find our way.”

uh. nope.

i just looked that up and it is a myth. whattheheck?

just exactly how are we to know which things we have learned are myths and which things we have learned are not? this is a confusing and complex problem. particularly at moments – like in the woods, lost – when one would think, “wait! i can help! the lichen! look at the lichen! it grows most profusely on the north side. we can find our way out!”. which old wives’ tales are true and which aren’t?

we have found, lately, that the real truth of the matter is that everyone is pretty much making up everything. it’s all on-the-fly. wives’ tales and all.

the monsoon rains came on sunday after a perfectly-perfect day on saturday. “seven inches of rain possible,” the accuweather app read, “areal flooding. flash flooding. turn around. don’t drown.”

we hoped it would go around our town, just a bit to the west (or the east over the lake) and just skirt around us. but no such luck. it downpoured. at exactly the wrong angle and velocity for our house. in the middle of gathering chimney-work estimates, the rain battered the compromised chimney. in the basement, i made it up and laid towels to direct the rivulets of water (complete understatement) that were coming in, hoping i was making a difference. we crossed our fingers and wished for the storm drains to keep up. we turned to the north, looking for the way out of the forest.

because it was truly torrential, everyone around us was having issues. the huge tree in our neighbor’s yard fell and we kept looking up, standing out in the rain, waiting for the city to come and help them. the trees to our north are the ones that worry us the most in our own yard. there is no lichen on them. we laid down tarps on the deck along the house trying to keep the water from pooling along the siding and foundation. we got sopped in all our making-it-up. i wondered what else we could do, besides wait. but there wasn’t much. we kept vigil on the basement and on the trees to the north.

and we didn’t get a cold from standing out in the rain. another myth.

*****

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sunflowers and chamomile. [flawed wednesday]

though it does not follow the sun across the sky, this sunflower graces our yard and reminds us of constancy.

in ukraine the sunflower is a symbol of peace, a laying down of nuclear arms in 1996 and a time of restoration. it is rapidly becoming a sign of solidarity, of push-back, of resistance against the invasion by a country intent on the evil destruction of all in its path. i glance out back and offer a prayer to the universe for peace, for the ceasing of this lunacy. i sigh each time.

i have held a special place in my heart for sunflowers. even in rusty metal the sunflower grants warmth and holds vigil, loyal and open-hearted. a stunning blossom, big and loud in kind of a direct you-can’t-miss-it way.

sunflowers are in the same large and diverse flower family as daisies. their little sister, daisies, are our favorites. they walked us down the aisle, they grace our table as we eat. cheerfulness, innocence, joy, purity…flowers of simple form offering hope and new beginnings.

even tinier sisters, chamomile flowers in their beautiful simplicity are said to be purveyors of peace, poise, calmness, humility, rest, renewal. chamomile is described as a flower representing kindness, and, in its victorian era symbolism – energy in adversity.

i find it exponentially ironic that this is the national flower of russia.

*****

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our firework. [k.s. friday]

the morning dawned crisper and drier than previous days. there is nothing like sleeping with the windows wide open and a blanket on. even dogdog was feeling refreshed. we looked at the weather app. there is a tiny reprieve of the weather of late – yesterday and today. and then it’s going to soar back up into the 90s, with humidity making all the ferns and the basil outside grin.

the fourth of july will be beastly hot – as fourths often are. we may or may not walk to the lakefront. we know it will crowded and this still feels like time to be careful, pandemic-wise. fireworks will culminate the festivities with people on blankets and bag-chairs, with coolers and bugspray. there is a possibility that this plant – on the side of the trail as we hiked – may be our sole firework. and that’s ok.

each morning lately i have awakened around 4. and each morning i hear loud pops. i don’t know what these are. i assume they are fireworks, though i hardly know why someone is setting them off in the wee hours of the night. i hope they are not gunfire, though i’m not sure i would know the difference from a distance. since the violence that erupted in our town last year, merely blocks away from our home, i always wonder now. so i stay awake, waiting to hear if there are sirens. i find it unnerving.

dogdog is not a fan of fireworks; though he does not cower from them, he is clearly nervous. babycat would also be wary, sticking close to dogga and us. i know there are many people who have expressed how nearly terrified their pet is of fireworks. and, in these times we have been through, with the insane rise of gun violence in this country, i can relate to people being wary, being nervous.

i consider this too: fish and foraging creatures ingest the debris from these fireworks, often set off over water or rural areas. loud noises cause wildlife to flee. without plan and disoriented, birds and bees and so many other animals-sharing-earth-with-us panic, bringing undue harm to themselves. they are not celebrating. they are not even understanding. they are in flight mode, scared.

so this year, as spectacular as planned fireworks are, i find myself thinking that it might just be nice to stay in the backyard, quietly contemplating this democracy and all its flaws. we’ll maybe turn on the torches to keep away the mosquitoes and light the firepit tower and watch the flames in the breeze. we’ll play music and maybe dance on the deck. we’ll keep dogdog reassuringly close, sip wine and try to remember last fourth of july and the one before that and the one before that…

we’ll hear fireworks all around us. our neighborhood on the lakefront will be noisy and packed with cars – people who have driven here and parked on all the streets, toting their picnics and rolly-coolers and blankets down the sidewalks.

and i will hope that all will go well all over this country in this celebration of a day – a celebration of things so many seem to have forgotten, things written into the declaration of independence: “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

when i was a child i didn’t know. i watched fireworks with no sense of irony. i was in awe at the spectacle of the parade and the pomp and circumstance.

but as an adult – i know.

*****

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I DIDN’T KNOW from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997 & 2000 kerri sherwood