Finding beauty in damage

While I still appreciate the beauty of a perfectly shaped leaf in the flush of its early autumnal glow, my eye is also drawn to the more mature beauties of late fall. The mottling of age, the delicate lace patterns of holes, the map-like lines traced by the beginnings of decay.

A few fallen leaves

The thing about deciding to post every day is that it means that every day, you are faced with the reality of posting something. Even when you are tired. In keeping with my grand tradition, I am sharing some photos. And seeing as it’s fall, the photos are of leaves.

I do love the fall, and seeing the spectacular show put on by the foliage. Even after they’ve fallen, a lot of leaves still catch my eye.

Shifting perspective: 4 photos

Getting up in the leaves. I love taking photos of light coming through leaves.
We have some Japanese maples in our yard that tend to turn a vibrant bright red in the fall.
This year an early snow may have led to most of the leaves turning brown, with only a few patches of bright red.
It amuses me that these are the same trees as in the bright leafy photos above, just from a different perspective. (The top 2 photos above were taken in the cluster of red in the lower left of this photo.)

Doing a happy dance

This morning the news broke that the presidential election was called for Biden. While votes are still being tallied, it looks like the Biden/Harris campaign has surpassed the needed 270 electoral votes. (Thank you, Pennsylvania!) The rest of my day has been a whirl of emotions. I’ve cried some tears of joy and relief, talked and texted with friends and family, and spent a good hour and a half dancing around my house. (Bonus: this was a pretty solid cardio workout.)

I know there’s still a lot of work to be done. The pandemic is still raging, and this country is more divided than ever. But for today and tonight, I’m going to drink in the joy and relief. (I also drank in a bit of sparkling wine that I had in the fridge.)

Count every vote.

As many people predicted, the results of the US presidential election are not yet determined. While this isn’t the definitive rejection of the current administration I’d hoped for, I am holding out hope for an electoral college win for Biden. But I won’t count my chickens until all the votes are counted.

Count every vote. (I painted my sign in the couple of minutes between a meeting and the time I was leaving for the event.)

I attended a “Protect the Results” event in a nearby town tonight. Many such events were planned around the country, but most were not activated. But still, every vote needs to be counted.

Count every vote.

Last night and this morning left me feeling tied up in knots with worry and a sense of impending doom. I’ve been trying to focus on the bits of good, like my little red town going for Biden. Plus I’ve been making sure to count my blessings, and feel thankful for the many good people I have in my life, plus my dog, my home, and the many things in my life that bring me joy. Too many to count right now.

Today was a bit of a blur.

I’m pretty well exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster of the last couple of days. In fact, I am in bed already, even though it’s barely after 9:00 p.m. I was almost asleep when I remembered that I hadn’t posted here.

And now I need to close up my laptop and get to sleep. (I won’t need to count sheep. Though I may well dream of counting ballots.)

Remembering to breathe

Stress levels are high, and my mood is less than cheerful. But I’m trying to remind myself to focus on the good things. And also to breathe. Here are some recent photos taken outside, highlighting trees and vines and leaves. I offer them my thanks for the oxygen they provide, and for their breathtaking beauty.

Tomorrow is likely going to be a very long day.

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. 

grieving the big, small and in between

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My family has been fortunate so far in these stressful times. We have a comfortable home and abundant amenities, and live in a place where we can enjoy being outside. We are able to both stay home and keep working at our jobs, and the kids have access to at least some version of schooling. We are healthy and safe. I am grateful every day for our good fortune.

But there has still been loss, of things big and small.

Today was to have been a day for celebrating the life of my aunt, one of my late father’s siblings, who passed away in early March. My family in the midwest had barely scheduled the memorial when it was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. My aunt was in her 90s, and her life was full and long. But I still grieve her loss, and the loss of the connection with my father’s family.

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Life being complicated, today would also have been an important chorus concert for my daughter, one that she had auditioned for in early February. Of course, I could not have attended both the concert and the memorial for my aunt. I barely had time to agonize over this before the complications compounded, and effectively made my own decisions easier.

These are only two of the disrupted plans in my life and household. March and April had plenty more. Many I let go with a shrug. A few I was happy to relinquish. A few others, though, have taken a lot more processing. (And maybe a bit of packing them up to process later.)

I chose these photos to go with this post because I’m not sure I want to post photos of my aunt at this time. But looking back at the handful of photos I have of her from decades past, I noted that she was wearing yellow in two of them taken over 10 years apart. So the daffodils are for her. The daffodils have also been cheering me, and encouraging me with their resilience in the temperamental New England spring weather. They bounced back remarkably well after a snow storm.

May showers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday was the first day of May. Somehow April both flew by and felt interminable. As usual, I struggle to find time to do all the things I’ve committed to doing, and haven’t carved out much time for the creative projects I’ve wanted to do. The days go by in a blur of meetings and cooking and work projects and reading the news and talking with family and friends.

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I still take photos many days, in particular when I’m out walking the dog. This afternoon after most of a day of rain, (and a bunch of meetings) the sun came out. I went outside to see if there was a rainbow. There was only a very faint rainbow above, but the yard was full of color and light. The late afternoon sun lit up the flowers and new leaves, and water drops sparkled everywhere.

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I took a few photos with my phone, but then decided to go inside to get my real camera. (It can be hard to get the iPhone to focus on a tiny drop of water or leaf.)

Somehow this feels like a good way to start the month. A bit of sharp focus in a blur of days.