So, yesterday I didn’t go online. The happy days of singing from the balconies and the enthusiastic – “This too shall pass! Yes We’re going to make it!” has gone by the wayside with lost jobs, death tolls, polemics and accusations. And the ravens caw all around us.
It’s not that the emergency is over. People are just scared or worse bored. They aren’t worrying that there are still people dying. All too often people only understand when they too are touched. Just as they don’t know of the millions who sicken and die from lack of food or water. A photo is worth a thousand words, but pain is intimate and real.
– deadly drought
Many days have passed and many things have changed, if only for a few days. Cleaner air, cleaner water and the animals have returned. Everywhere films were made and some cheers were raised. Pretty pretty … But now humanity is tired of sheltering from a silent invisible killer, which when you look closely only kills the old and weak. The economy is wounded, petrol again has no value, people are not consuming. Stop Phase one we need to hurry up phase two!
© gsk ’20
In North America when one talks about a blackbirds one usually thinks about a crows or a ravens which are a completely different thing.
Haibun – Day 42 and Earth Day
It’s day 42 of the lock down here in Italy due to COVID-19 pandemic. The days are warm now, spring is all around us. My lemon, lime and kumquat trees are blooming filling the air with sweet perfume. My wind chimes tingle in the afternoon breeze. Who could believe that there is a disease that has killed thousands of people blowing in the wind.
bird song and blossoms
in the wind sweet perfume
– silent death
My friend’s wife developed a cough a while ago and she was put in quarantine (her husband and child who live with her were in quarantine too). They couldn’t leave their house for any reason, penalty a huge fine and if someone got sick because they’d done so they risked imprisonment. A health call-center called three times a day for their vitals, temperature and all that. All of their trash had to be put into two plastic bags and left outside their home for pickup. It was an innocent cough … this lasted 14 days.
through the wind
dust, pollen and COVID
– life and death
One wonders if it will end and how? Some people, not having seen death don’t believe that there is really a pandemic. Some people in the world have become violent about the lock downs and some protest that their rights are being violated. Some say our life will never be the same. Some say COVID will be with us until we find a vaccine. Who knows? Today is also Earth day.
across the Earth
skies are clear and clean
© gsk ’20
Haibun – Tenacious Perennials
When I arrived in Italy in 1970, a lot of the reconstruction had already taken place However, sometimes behind a bunch of new buildings bombed out shells still existed. In my 7th floor apartment in Savona where I lived a year after my arrival, I looked onto one of those bombed out hulks from my kitchen window.
memories of war
ghosts lurking behind homes
After the twenty year reign of Fascism and the war that was the fruit of that political choice, Italy was a mass of rubble. Its economy was non existent. Its people downtrodden by crippling poverty. And yet, Italy arose from its ashes and each citizen arose from the dragon’s teeth to become many pledged to rebuilding the nation.
scattered upon the land
Stone upon stone political battle after political battle, through corruption and the Mafias of various sorts, Italy arose from the ashes and rebuilt its bombed out cities. The Marshal plan helped of course, America was generous since Italy had the strongest Communist Party outside of the influence of the USSR. Above all though was the will of the Italians to overcome their century long poverty which pushed many of them into being the beggars of the Earth. They could at last dip into the wealth of the world.
planted in poverty
sprouted by fiat
watered by children’s tears
The destruction of Covid-19 on the nations is of a different entity. I don’t like to think of a disease as a war because I don’t like the way politicians are flinging that word around. Be that as it is, although things may not be as they once were, this too will pass. The protagonist of this haibun is Italy … but with variations it could be any country. Nations are not what the politicians would have us believe .. they are really people living together trying to do best they can.
Haibun – my wooden ship
On Thursday I look at the world in all its (ah-hum) glory. Its the day I usually prepare for my English Conversation class and so a day I look into news articles about politics and current events. In any period of time one needs a bit of ballast not to flounder but now with the COVID pandemic at its height one really needs to have an inner anchor.
in my wooden ship
I sail through death and storms
Back in the mid ’80s I was living in yet another interesting time of my life and was feeling rather tired of it all. I came across an old book “The Way of Zen” by Alan Watts. I felt I’d found a new lover, such were the power of the vision I found in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a converted from one religion to yet another religion. I was raised in a religious uncertain family so, in my early youth I’d experimented with many representatives of monotheism and alas preferred my familial religious chaos to monotheistic self righteous rigidity. Watts though didn’t preach he taught. How refreshing!
wild this daisy grows
no lily of the valley
that false innocent
After the maelstrom of the day, I kick back and listen to a talk by Watts … just to balance out the day. I put on a TV show about the life in England in the 1950s , it’s entitled “Call the Midwife”, so heartening! I feed myself and Brynn the princess cat and finally go to bed. As an introvert, basically I have no problem with social distancing. I admit I’d be in a much more unpleasant place if I had to live elbow to elbow with millions of people all at once!
balancing my soul
looking at simple drama
at social distance
© gsk ’20
Now some flower facts both flowers represent purity but:…
Just like a lot of the other flowers in the Asteraceae flower these are easy to grow. This is a flower that a child can grow and it stands all sorts of conditions. With the vascular nature of this plant and the tap root, it basically grows so well that it can become a weed. So, even if you are a person with a brown thumb, you can grow this. These flowers will grow in dry areas they will grow in open areas too. They are easily pollinated because bugs love them and spread the pollen throughout, so you will see fields of daisies in some of the places that are out there. This is a great beginner flower to start growing.
Lily of the Valley
Even though the Lily of the Valley prefers cooler temperatures, it will grow in warmer as well. If you plan on having Lily of the Valley in your yard or garden, there are two things you need to be careful about. One is the poisonous nature of the plant, for humans and pets. The other is the way the flower reproduces may make it difficult to get rid of it once it has established itself. Since its root system creeps underground, you may have to really work on eliminating it. However, if your plans are to have them around to make your yard just beautiful, then you will have no problem because they will multiply on their own. Find out about how the Lilies of the Valley like to live, whether they want lots of water or just a little, what type of soil is best for them, how much sunshine they need during the day, then you are set with growing beautiful Lily of the Valley flowers.
Haibun – Isolation Spring
Days in isolation tend to blur. The lock down in this COVID-19 spring is different from my past. I’ve spent hiding from palpable danger, that made your heartbeat race. For example, when I was young I lived in Chad. That spring, I didn’t need anyone to tell me to stay at home because there were armed bands of rebels and government soldiers roaming the streets. One knew there was death outside. Death which could break down the door and come into your home.
in the night
tat tat tat tat
In Italy when spring arrives, days are warm. Larks and blackbirds would warble their delight in the early morning. Children would be out in the streets going to school. A couple of gossips would be standing on the corner exchanging all their news. I’d walk down from my house to the cafe to read the newspaper and drink an espresso. Enjoying the sunshine and the freedom of movement without a coat. Ah … memories.
warm sounds of spring
Now it’s spring. Thank heavens the birds still sing and the days are still warm. But they tell me that we’re in danger. No one will break down my door with guns, though some dramatic politicians and news people speak of a global war. I find it difficult to feel afraid here in my Italian valley. Everything is even too peaceful as everyone is shut away. We live in an age of the miracles in our modern age. I never would have thought that a sneeze would cause fear.
in the street
Haibun – COVID-19
Reading news reports of the horror that is COVID-19 can is chilling. And although the horror of what is happening is wounding to the heart, in these times, there are those narcissists who spread false and horrifying news reports on the Social Media pages. Of course no one requires us to read them or look at what’s on the news.
sleeping in my soft bed
safe and warm
The COVID-19 pandemic which has hit our world, they said wouldn’t be as bad as the annual flu season. Because in our age, we have an influenza season. I guess because influenza is endemic? Some say only those with weak immunological systems and the very old will probably die. The young are safe, they are strong … no children under 16 have been affected. And then, today, it’s an official news report, an infant dies of COVID-19. Many shutter.
age of miricles
It happened so fast. Just a few short weeks ago everyone was sitting back in their comfortable homes, watching their TVs. The news commentators tut-tutted on how inefficient the Chinese government was in getting the illness under control. Commenting on the lock downs in Wuhan and Hubei province with condescension . Then as it seemed that things might calm down, only for it to reach Italy. The European nations looked on as she was caught in the maelstrom. They looked on, sometimes cruelly joking about the situation, not preparing. It took a week or so and other European nations began to succumb, first one or two cases then hundreds and finally thousands. The United States began to report deaths in Washington state. The WHO proclaimed that COVID-19was a pandemic. Finally the United Kingdom capitulated and their Prime Minister tested positive to the virus. Many more nations are being adding to the lists of those who have entered the brave new world of COVID-19. Crematoriums are consuming the dead.
lost in smoke
ravens fly in droves
Trains still run here in the silent world of illness that is Italy. There are those who believe that the virus which has killed so many is not really so very bad. Often people don’t believe, until they are in someway hurt, that bad things really do exist.
I sit on my terrace in the silence, the birds sing, the wind is warm and pleasant, the sun is warm. There are no distant sounds of cars or jets high up in the sky to leave their white streaks. The sky is limpid, virginal in fact, as though mankind has ceased to exist.
Looking back on the spring of 2020, I will remember the silence of the clear skies and the earth as seen from satellites showing a “surprising” decrease in pollution. I and many will also remember the silent truckloads of corpses, victims of the COVID-19, that snaked through the early morning streets of Bergamo. Many may never live through the silence of mourning loved ones. I mourn the many I’ve never met feeling sure that no one will mourn me.
But we are not yet finished with this illness, though we may be bored with it. It’s so difficult to be healthy and isolated in this silent spring. Life is being renewed and spring beckons to us like a siren.
The silence is too loud. We are so used to our comforting noise … the constant hubble-bubble of machinery and commentary. Some will say: how absurd, why should we be isolated like this … and will congregate. Then soon there will be more silence.
my heart beat
in social isolation
a silent world
I’m writing, doing what I’ve always dreamt of doing, I’m enthusiastic, I feel revitalized. People are reading my work, liking it and giving me great suggestions that help me better my work, I feel part of a community … and then I don’t.
Sure, I’d had some bad moments recently in my life, but I kept up my writing and my photography kept on going but at a certain point, for no apparent reason, I found I hadn’t turned on my computer for months. What happened? Why did I stop?
I’ve always been a pretty creative sort of person, although not a creative genius. Since I can remember I’ve always passed hours enjoying my painting, drawing and writing. I easily pick up skills, I’m a quick study as they say, so I had no problems learning how to sew, crochet, sculpt, cook or whatever else came my way including learning anatomy and acupuncture meridians and points. But, and there’s a big but, since puberty, I periodically go into more or less long periods of ennui.
I slip into a sort of limbo, where nothing seems very important to me at all. I pass hours (days at a time) reading or watching TV series. I do get out of bed because I abhor an unmade bed. I eat whatever is at hand (usually nothing particularly healthy) just as long as it’s quick and fills me up. I don’t live in chaos, my house though not spotlessly clean is fairly orderly, I make sure of that because I hate being in a messy dirty place. I drift through life, doing the minimum necessary to get through the day. Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, self-preservation has guaranteed that I keep a life-line open to the outside world. I do have a couple of friends with whom I never lose contact with completely.
Then one day, something changes … I take a look at myself and my life and a tiny spark glitters. It may take weeks or months but I become constantly more dissatisfied with drifting. I realize that I’ve become overweight, that I haven’t done much of anything interesting for a long time, that I’m bored with my books and the TV. I start looking into diets and exercise (just looking). I get the urge to write or sew myself a new outfit or paint a picture (just the urge). I become frustrated and panicky. Then the looking around becomes watching what I eat and going for walks, joining a dance class and bicycling. The urge becomes turning on the computer, looking through models for a new outfit, and choosing a great piece of material. Usually at this point my life has started to move again.
I don’t really know why this happens to me. I’ve gone through analysis, I’ve meditated, I’ve had great mentors throughout my life who’ve stimulated me giving my life a sense of meaning … for a while anyway. But eventually, there it is, the chasm of ennui into which I slip (not fall) and the cycle begins again. The drifting isn’t painful and I don’t even feel bored. It’s when I move on, when I become aware that maybe there can be more to my life than books and TV, the awakening, which is the painful part, fraught with anxiety and impatience to move on.
Have you or anyone you’ve known gone through this sort of thing? I’d like to read about it, so please leave comments below and let me know.
passion gives way to
a never-ending cycle
my Samsara ennui
A colourful leaf fell past my window this evening, bright harbinger of change, awakening me to other signs that I should have noticed. The silence of the empty swallow’s nest, the chicks have long gone but when did they fly away? There, listen carefully, do you hear the honking of passing geese overhead?
Autumn is boldly approaching leaving behind it the suffocating heat of summer. The seasons tumble one into another, each day passing quickly, soon the blackbird will sing in spring again!
leaf and bird
in winter and summer
harbingers of change
© Gsk ’16
Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille August 31 2016 colorful leaves – Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie