Sunday, September 20, 2020

A Tornado of Thoughts

A busy morning at home yesterday. I did some trimming in the garden and brought in a couple of our pink roses, which are still producing a second flush of blooms. I put one in the living room next to a stalk of Peruvian lily that's already been on our windowsill for about two weeks -- that stuff just lasts and lasts. I put the other in the kitchen:

I swept the house with our new vacuum cleaner, which seems positively super-powered after the tired whine of our old machine. I did laundry. I cleaned the dining room windowsill and washed down and watered all the orchids.

Of course, all this cleaning and organizing is probably a psychological reaction to YET ANOTHER piece of terrible news that I can't control -- the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the specter of Donald Trump appointing another Supreme Court justice. I am trying to be philosophical about it. There are a lot of people in America, largely but not exclusively religious, who want the changes another conservative justice could bring -- especially an end to legalized abortion. Of course I think it's abhorrent that we would do away with a woman's right to choose her reproductive destiny, to force her to submit her body and her privacy to laws largely written by men. But part of me says, well, this is Democracy. This is our system. I don't mean to be too sanguine -- I think we have to continue to fight the pro-choice battle as long as we can. But an angrier voice inside me says, "FINE. You want more abortion restrictions? Go for it. See how miserable you make your neighbors and daughters and nieces. See how many women you kill."

I just do not get some religious people. I grew up going to church every week, and I think church served a purpose in my life when I was young -- it helped me develop a moral center, it taught me to be kind and to consider the needs of others. But my family always considered religion as a sort of social glue, to be taken in a metaphorical sense. All those stories in the Bible -- the virgin birth and the loaves and fishes, the faith healing, the good Samaritan -- didn't really happen. They're vehicles meant to teach us how to live kinder, more productive lives.

The literalists who blindly believe every word in the Bible to be true, the extremists who twist religion into a tool of persecution (apparently completely unaware that that's what they're doing) -- well, as I said, I don't understand them. And of course there are the Mitch McConnells, the political opportunists who have no shame and no principles, and say and do whatever they can to win their battles. Republicans, sadly, are much better at playing that game than modern Democrats are.

As you can tell, my head is swirling.

Let's talk about the once-viney tree. Remember how I took it some water several days ago? This is what it looks like -- kind of pathetic, right? Yellowed and shriveled. I've been afraid that it might be dying, and I will feel terrible if that happens, even though I'm sure my removal of the vines wouldn't cause it to die. If it does expire, something else must be going on, and I have some theories but who knows. I still feel weirdly responsible.

Then again, maybe it's not dying at all. Maybe this is just the color it wears at this time of year, and we couldn't see it before, with the tree so shrouded in vines. Or maybe now that it's exposed to so much sunlight its leaves develop a more coppery tone. They still seem somewhat green, and they're pliable, not dry and dead.

And as Dave pointed out, the tree did develop flowers and fruit -- which seems like a good sign.

I'd write the council tree officer and ask, but I don't want to inadvertently prompt them to replace the tree. So maybe I'll just watch and wait, do my little part by taking it some water now and then, and see what happens. Kind of like what I'm doing with coronavirus, and the Supreme Court, and the election, and Brexit, and climate change, and mass extinction, all the other stomach-churning events going on in the world right now. I can do my little part, but I can't stop the inevitable.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

"Good Morning Vietnam!" said Robin Williams's character but I say "Good Morning Steveinam!" and I did not find this funny opening to my comment on Wikipedia! I thought you said that church going had taught you to be kind! When I was a boy I was in the village church choir and my father was a church warden but I knew from a very early age that it was all utter poppycock and nothing that I have seen or experienced since has caused me to change that view one iota. As for your adopted tree, all you can do is pray for it.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I've got nothing to add. You've said it all so well. I think many of us are experiencing a tornado of thoughts.

Unknown said...

The journalist in you comes out with a really good piece of writing about the US situation and religion. I had a similar religious education and we never really believed. But I can't agree that it was instructional for life. That really came from my parents, family and friends. Loaves and fishes, parting the seas, Noahs ark. What a hoot.

Mary said...

Hard not to feel just a little more beaten with each onslaught of terrible news.

Sabine said...

I feel your pain. This is all seriously troubling, not just to the US.

Re your tree, could be seasonal, considering that seasons have shifted in air polluted cities and bearing in mind the temperature changes brought on by climate change.

A tree needs tons of water, much more than what you have done so far. And a small tree has not very deep roots. So if you have the energy, keep it up, maybe even every second day.

In my neighbourhood, now while it's so unseasonally hot and very dry, every Sunday we form a chain of about 20 people carrying buckets of water from the river to some very thirsty trees in a small park - for about an hour (usually entertained by some buskers and there's socially distanced drinks afterwards). During the summer months the city came with a tank but that stopped now that we are officially in autumn.

Ms. Moon said...

Sabine's story left me gobsmacked! Really? Now THAT is kindness and caring. Even as we speak I can hear a church (not the one next door, I think) that must have speakers outside and the pastor sounds so angry. We cannot figure out where the sound is coming from. Second Sunday in a row. How odd!
At least your reaction to events is motivating you to do something. I just feel more and more as if nothing I do matters. I'm going to have to get over that.
Please know that whatever happens to your little tree is not your fault. You did all that you could. More than 99% of people would have done.
And it may thrive yet.

Red said...

Your head is in the game. You re aware of what's going on. In order for change people have to know what's going on.

37paddington said...

Those flowers on your windowsill are beautiful. Simple grace. That was RBG, too. I feel quite sure the Trump enablers will push through a nomination, and the confirmation battle will be ugly, and no telling how it will affect the election. I hope Biden wins, I have some hope, but we must also be prepared for the death of our democracy, the entrenchment of fascism, and no amount of water will save us. Your tree, however, is worth your hope.

Sharon said...

I echo your thoughts on religion. It seems that in the name of religion, many people have chosen the devil. And they can't seem to see what is so obvious. The next weeks up to the election are going to be painful I fear. The complete hypocrisy of Republicans in Washington is beyond belief.

Linda Sue said...

a tree born in the desert would be just fine aside the pavement, an other tree struggles , for water, for root space. You have saved this little tree and it is trying so hard , so good! It is the little things that keep us from utter despair, the big picture is overwhelming. There are birds on the feeder this morning and a patch of blue sky! The little things.
Your flowers on the sill are some of the best of the little things, and the tiny prince.
Life is brief no matter how you look at it, you are making the most of it, and walking and loving Olga and Dave- You would have been kind and caring no matter the church of your childhood. It is just who you are.

robin andrea said...

Your last paragraph sums up the times we are living in so well. I read it out loud to Roger. We both laughed and sighed and would have wept if we had any hope at all.
Beautiful flowers there, and keep watering that tree. Down to our roots we're all connected and you nourish your inner self with that watering can as well.

Edna B said...

Your flowers are beautiful. I think your little tree will be okay. Just keep doing what you're doing, and it will do its best to hang in there for you. Have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

Allison said...

I dread the thought of Amy Coney Barret. She pledges to not be constrained by precedent, therefore Roe v. Wade is not settled law; and neither is the Marriage Equality ruling. Her stated goal as a lawyer was "to bring about the Kingdom of God." This woman is just scary and she's the number one pick for the lunatic president.

ellen abbott said...

I doubt if removing the hops vine had anything to do with the seeming decline of the tree.

our family went to church every week too up until I was about 13 or 14, after that just Christmas Eve until I was 17. I don't attribute going to church for a moral foundation but rather the day to day parenting which was not founded in any day to day mention of religion. I started drawing away from the church at an early age and then christianity altogether and then all religion which I think while some congregations do some good, religion is inherently evil. when a friend of mine who had, lost, and then re-found his religious fervor learned I had denounced christianity and had no respect for religion in general he exclaimed, my god woman, where do you get your morals!'. quite frankly I look at most christians out there and wonder what happened to theirs. or maybe I just developed different ones. I don't think we need religion to tell us that murder, hate, stealing, lying, etc. is wrong. I think that these ideas developed as we evolved because they contributed to our survival.

My life so far said...

I had no idea those flowers were called peruvian lilies. Now I know. For some reason I thought they were called freesia. Now I won't embarrass myself, at least not about that:)

I don't understand why people think they have the right to interfere with women's bodies, except to exert control. It's sickening.

Alphie Soup said...

It could be the street tree is simply turning on its autumn colours before winter. A year ago it was still being smothered by the vine and it would have been difficult to see what was really happening.
The ever optimistic,

Steve Reed said...

YP: Yeah, sorry about that Wikipedia comment. Current events have made me quite snarky! I'm not sure praying for that tree is going to do much good. Carrying it water now and then would be far more beneficial.

Mitchell: It's a tornado-inducing time.

Andrew: Yes, of course, my family was critical in giving me a sense of morality, too. Perhaps church just reinforced it.

Mary: I KNOW! What is up with this year?!

Sabine: I'm so impressed with your "tree brigade"! I wish we had something like that here. I don't know why the people who live near the viney tree don't just run a hose out to it now and then. I think I would if I lived there. Apparently later this week we're supposed to finally get some rain.

Mrs Moon: I think what we do DOES matter. It may not matter much, but it matters.

Red: I do try to stay informed, but I also think we have to balance that by turning off the news and living our own lives. It's too easy to get buried in all the gloom.

37P: As I told Dave, I'm trying to mentally prepare for a Trump victory, just in case.

Sharon: Exactly! There's a sort of religion based on fear of God and his wrath, and that has very little to do with being good and kind. I don't understand that kind of extremism.

Linda Sue: This tree also has a very tiny growing area at the bottom -- less than other trees on our street. I'm amazed it can get any hydration at all.

Robin: Thanks for reading my sentence out loud! I do think that we have to stay invested enough to act, but realize our limitations and release what we cannot control. It's the only way to stay sane.

Edna: I hope so! Dave is convinced it's fine. He thinks it's just doing its seasonal thing, and he may be right.

Allison: Yeah, she's a piece of work. The confounding thing is that Trump is allegedly pro-choice himself, or at least has been in the past. I wonder what Ivanka is telling him?

Ellen: It's interesting that people would conclude that in the absence of religion, there would be amorality. I mean, part of having a civilized society is recognizing the rights of others -- that's just civilization, not church.

Lilycedar: Yes! They are also known as Alstroemeria. They DO look a bit like freesia, so I can see how you'd think that.

Alphie: I hope you're right! It's the only tree to change so dramatically so far, but it's certainly possible.