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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Can This Be Real?

Spring comes to southeast Arizona
I had a sudden insight upon awakening this morning, because, you see, we went for a drive yesterday, our first pleasure trip since we started hunkering down. Sky, clouds, grasses, cattle, wildflowers, mountains! They are all still there! In fifty miles we encountered only a single other vehicle, when the Artist had stopped so I could jump out with my camera, and the driver of a pickup truck loaded with hay bales stopped to see if we needed help. 

“Everything okay?” “Yes,” I told him, “it’s just so beautiful!” 

We went on, past the road to the Chiricahua National Monument, continuing south. Prickly poppies all along the road will be blooming by next week. We always appreciate places where water flows across the road. The day was golden, and we stopped again and again.

Turkey Creek

I walked a while along Turkey Creek Road, in  surroundings so heartbreakingly lovely I was holding back tears when I returned to the car and could not speak for several minutes. Finally I said softly, “It doesn’t seem possible, does it?” And the Artist answered, also in a low, reverent tone, without losing a beat, “No, it really doesn’t.”

These days we all, especially people our age, consider the possibility of dying. Even without coronavirus, the future grows shorter the longer we live. 

“We might never have seen this,” I begin haltingly.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, for instance, it’s unlikely I’ll ever see Ireland.” 

My mother and father made that trip before they died, and both my sisters have visited the land of our maternal grandfather. One of my old boyfriends, who lives in Ireland with his wife, invited us to visit! But travel by plane to a foreign country may not be on our agenda any longer. 

“Why not?”

“Well, we can’t drive there, and if we were there we couldn’t rent a car.” 

Friends told of the cut-off age for car rentals, and the Artist had been appalled. 

“But,” I go on, getting to my real point, “we’re here. We’ve seen this. I’ve seen this.” 

We continued along the way, leaving private land for national forest, climbing into an entirely different life zone and following the beautiful creek that rushed along beside and below us, loving every inch of our road.

The Coronado National Forest isn’t the Grand Canyon, and I don’t mind a bit. It’s enough for me. More than enough. The various pieces of the Forest in the Chiricahua, Dragoon, and PinaleƱo Mountains fill my heart with joy, lift it with silent song. I can hardly believe I have been so fortunate as to be here, sometimes can hardly believe this land exists at all.

So my insight was about Americans who still think the coronavirus danger is a “hoax,” “fake news,” even while their Great Leader has changed his tune and admitted it’s real and is acting to mitigate the danger in various ways. It’s so peaceful here, so normal, and we don’t know anyone who has the virus. It doesn’t seem real at all from here. 

And yet the virus is real. The danger is real. But unbelievable beauty is real, too. Love is real. The danger of the virus, the beauty of the mountains and high desert, the gifts of love — at times all these realities seem equally hard for the human mind to encompass. This world of ours is amazingly complex, and both what we love and what we fear can be overwhelming at times.

So I do all I can to protect myself and others from the virus and take every opportunity to drink in and feel gratitude for beauty and love, and I hope you are doing the same. Today is the day we have. We're here now.

Spring comes even in dark times.


Elizabeth Krecker said...

Your neighbors at Dos Cabezas Bed & Breakfast told us about you via Facebook. I am a blogger, too, plus I used to live in Michigan and fondly remember the beauty of the north. Your story here is totally charming and your photos are just gorgeous. I hope that we're all able to get out of the house soon so that I can meet you before you head back to Michigan. I believe this comment will automatically link to a blog that I rarely post to now that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have taken over the world. But I blog about wine - mostly Arizona wine - here: Thank you for your thoughtful writing!

P. J. Grath said...

Elizabeth, I hope we can meet, too. If not this year, next year for sure! Where did you live in Michigan? I am going over right now to visit your wine blog. One of my cohort in graduate school -- we were in the doctoral program in philosophy -- ended up as a vintner in New York State. Our lives take unexpected paths sometimes. Certainly this spring has taken an unexpected turn for everyone! But thank you for visiting and leaving a comment here on Books in Northport. When I link a new post to Facebook, I often have comments there, but having a comment (a real one, too, not spam!) come through on the blog itself is still a thrill for me, after all these 13 years. You are welcome, and thank you again!