hoping, expecting, waiting

I sometimes say that I can tell that I’m an optimist because I’m so often disappointed.

Back in mid March, our governor announced that all schools in Massachusetts would be closed for three weeks. Our district had already announced a closure for two weeks, and the additional week seemed prudent. Massachusetts was just starting to see a steep rise in Covid cases. A couple of weeks later, the governor announced that the statewide school closures were being extended to May 4th. Again, this seemed wise.

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As the weeks went by, statewide cases and deaths continued to rise alarmingly. It was clear that Massachusetts was being hit hard, climbing up to number 3 for confirmed cases in the US, and third also in terms of cases by population density. It seemed unlikely that schools would be reopening in May. With many states already having announced school closures for the rest of the year, I didn’t really expect that our schools would reopen. My head knew that things looked bad. The writing was on the wall, and my head could read it just fine.

And yet it turned out that there was, apparently, still a teeny, tiny barely perceptible fiber of hope embedded in my heart, as it were. Some part of me thought that maybe, just maybe, the kids could return to school by June for the last few weeks. Maybe they could have a brief reunion with friends and teachers. Maybe my eighth grade daughter could have at least some modified fragment of the send off from middle school before leaving for high school.

I really only realized that this hope had been there when it was announced, two weeks ago, that schools would not be reopening this school year.

I expected it. I really did. I just hoped for something different.

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It got me thinking, as I’ve done before, about the distinction between hope and expect. In Portuguese, the same verb, esperar, can mean either to hope or to expect. The two concepts share a root, grounded in thoughts of the future. And yet one branches out to mean what our head believes will happen, and the other what our heart wants to happen.

Interestingly, esperar also means to wait. And now the days pass into weeks into months, and we must wait to know what to expect. We wait for testing to become more widely available. We wait for a vaccine to be discovered.  We wait, expectantly, hopefully, for signs that we have turned the corner.

Espero. I hope. Espero. I expect. Espero. I wait.

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I’m including photos of early spring leaf buds from my recent walks. I find buds to be so hopeful, with their potential bundled up and gradually unfurling. 

funky acorns of Central Park

Yes, this post is really about acorns. In particular, some acorns that looked a bit funny to me, compared to those that my local oak trees drop. For one thing the acorns are really long. While they are probably of a similar thickness to those acorns I see locally, or maybe even a bit skinnier, they are quite a bit longer. Some of them even about twice as long as I expect an acorn to be.

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Long acorns.

Second, they have these crazy-looking hairy tops. They remind me of see anemones and rambutans. Or shaggy wigs.

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The caps from these acorns look like crazy hair. Or sea anemones. Or rambutans.

These acorns (and  presumably the trees they fell from) were near the reservoir in Central Park. I’m sure there is a way to identify them, but I’m not going to do so tonight. However, if any tree-lovers are out there who know the answer, let me know!

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I liked the way these acorns lined themselves up along the sticks or vines on the ground.
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This is just a stray leaf that caught my eye. I don’t know whether it is related to the acorns, but I believe it to be some sort of oak leaf.

Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, and since I’m going a little nuts getting ready, I figured I’d post a bit about some nutty-looking nuts.

superlative skies

I guess I may have my head in the clouds more than most, because I do find myself noticing the sky quite often, and even pointing it out to others. Take, for example, the rather spectacular, improbably pink sunset below, which I saw during my son’s soccer practice one evening.

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I was completely entranced by the shape and color, and took quite a few photos. When the soccer practice ended, the other parents and I walked toward the filed to collect our kids. I asked the nearest parent: “Did you see that sunset?” In turns out that she had not, even though she had been sitting only a few feet away from me.

The composition below is another one I saw during a soccer practice. What the photo doesn’t quite capture is the the colorful right edge of the cloud, which had both pink and green.

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And because I like to post things in sets of at least three, here is a non-sunset cloudscape from yesterday morning.

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(in)spired stump

On my walk in the woods last weekend, my eye was caught by a particularly complicated-looking tree stump. Perhaps it was caused by the weather, or insects, or some combination thereof, but the wood of the stump was carved into an intricate display of spires and arches. It reminded me of a fantasy city, such as from the Lord of the Rings movies. stump-spires-1

My daughter, though, tells me she sees ghosts and screaming faces. I can actually see this, too. stump-spires-2

What do you see in the patterns fo the stump? A fantasy scene or a nightmare? Or do you, rather, see only the weathered and broken wood shards of a tree stump?

leaves and ice

img_4629It’s time of year when my phone fills up with photos of ice. This time of year is, naturally, close on the heels of the time of year when my phone fills up with photos of leaves.

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It may not shock you to know that in this transition from late fall into winter, I sometimes also take photos of leaves and ice together.

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late fall color

Even thought the temperatures are dropping, and we’ve aleady had our sampling of snow, ice and frost, it is still technically the fall here in New England. And while the most dramatic fall colors are seen in the trees through the month of October, bits of bright color can still be found here and there well into November. Especially in the bushes and small plants in the undergrowth. Here are a few bits of color I came across in the last couple of weeks in November.