Mary Beth Writes

Today Len is at a Drupal (a computer language) conference in Chicago. Via Zoom. He had had hotel reservations, high hopes and enthusiasm, plus plans to meet one of our kids for dinner. Then Coronavirus hit the fan. The hotel gave his money back. Right now he’s sitting at his desk, headphones on, occasionally chucking at God Know What.  Drupal jokes, I guess.

Life goes on.

...

Six writerly types in my congregation write two church services per year.  We were going to do a service at the end of this month. We met once, eight days ago, which now feels like Back in the Days of Yore. We brainstormed about our theme – Wisdom. We took assignments, figured out more-or-less what we were going to try to do and then went home to continue thinking,  writing, and emailing.

We got a fair amount done. Then yesterday we all sort of (via email) realized that we cannot prepare a service about wisdom to be presented weeks or months from now. Because right now we are living in fear, questions, smart ideas, terrible ideas, and a deep intuitive search for wisdom.  One can’t pontificate on wisdom while one is in uncharted waters looking for a map. 

Is this happening to you, too?  You are trying to wrap up projects you started before this crisis – only to intuit that the old ideas aren’t quite up to the world in front of us?

Those of you who draw, quilt, paint, etc – people who create arts and crafts with your hands – is this happening to you? 

I’m curious if our questions are changing. If the materials and colors and metaphors we need are changing.

Here are some of the photos that Len took on our Scuppernong Springs hike.

 

Red Wing Blackbirds were singing and flitting like marshland popcorn on Tuesday.  Len took photos of these small noisy, skittish blackbirds. It’s not hard to identify with how vulnerable they are and yet how they just keep going.

I also found this curious story. Its from the Chitimacha nation (very small now) of Native Americas who live in the deltas along Louisiana’s shoreline. 

This story is lifted directly from the internet. Read here. 

Why the Blackbird Has Red Wings

This version of the legend comes from Katherine Judson's 1914 collection Myths and Legends of the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.

“One day an Indian became so angry with everyone that he set the sea marshes on fire because he wanted to burn up the world.

A little blackbird saw it. He flew up into a tree and shouted Ku nam wi cu! Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

The man said "If you do not go away, I will kill you." But the bird only kept shouting "Ku nam wi cu! The world and all is going to burn."

Then the Indian threw a shell and hit the little bird on the wings, making them bleed. That is how the red-winged blackbird came by its red wings.

Now when people saw the marshes burning, they quickly ran down and killed game which had been driven from it by the fire. Then they said to the angry man, "Because you put fire in those tall weeds, the deer and bear and other animals have been driven out and we have killed them. You have aided us by burning them."

Nowadays when the red-winged blackbird comes around the house, he still shouts "Ku nam wi cu, so they say.”

If the people had saved the bear and deer and other animals, I would have loved this story. Little bird calls a warning, people respond and save their world. But no, the little bird calls a warning and the people rush to the marsh and kill the animals trying to escape the fire. 

Is this an ancient native American tale.

Or is this CNN?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

I enjoyed the message, the great writing and the gorgeous pictures! Thank you!

Hello Mary Beth, I'm an academic, artist, grandmother, Quaker ... and lots of other things based in Oxford, UK. Just to say I recently discovered your blog and I'm finding the Coronavirus entries deeply warming and comforting. Thank you.
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you so much for appreciating my writing and saying so. It's like making a pie - half the satisfaction is in the making of it. The other half is knowing people want to eat the pie!

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Quarantine Diary #17 3/30/2020

Why are people (lots of them) on Facebook posting photos of landscapes? The instructions say one should post a picture of a landscape one took somewhere, one should not say where that place is, and no people should be included, especially not the posting-person.  

Why? I don’t get it. I don’t mind but I really don’t get how this connects to anything.

A friend’s husband’s company had a virtual meeting this morning about the future of their company. Things are changing but not shutting down. They will still have income and insurance.  Thought you might like to know.  

Quarantine Diary #16 3/29/2020

I’ve been busy today so I’m a little late getting to this diary. Doing what, you ask? Oh, brilliant things like washing the bathroom and doing laundry and going for a blustery walk. Took the plastic off the particular windows we wrap in the fall.

Spent a chunk of the morning reading about the lead-up to the Revolutionary War battles at Saratoga. More about that later.  Reading about brave and canny, stupid and ego-centric politicians of an entirely different era is part of my coping strategy for life in the US. We aren’t the first to live in fraught times. Not by a long shot.

Quarantine Diary #15 3/28/2020

The Long-Awaited Groceries (The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is in my brain right now) came last night at 9PM – when it was raining. A woman named Sarah, late 30’s, brown ponytail, not-posh sweatpants and hoodie – carried ALL our groceries across the street from her car to our porch. This included 8-packs of Gatorade plus boxes of seltzer water, plus lots of other heavy stuff. Did I mention it was raining?

Quarantine #14 3/27/2020

Last night we did another wild and crazy thing. We got in our car and went for a drive! The first thing we remarked to each other was that we had not been in the car together in weeks.  It felt a little odd to be in there, next to each other, about to GO SOMEPLACE! Maybe this is the way it feels to be the family dog when they let you sit in the front seat and EVERYTHING IS SO AMAZING!

We drove west into the rosy sunset, filled with excitement to, um, see the sky.  Quarantines are easiest on people who have a low bar for excitement.

Quarantine Diary #13 3/26/2020

What do you miss?  What, in our new pandemical world do you miss most from our pre-pandemical world?You know, the one we lived in till two weeks ago?

I don’t mean the heartbreaking realities such as safe medical care providers and enough places to go should one become ill and the loved ones that we are losing.

I just mean, what are we getting used to? Or trying to get used to. What might we never go back to?

Quarantine Diary #12 3/25/2020

Right now it is 11:00AM.  Got up this morning at the regular time. Did regular things. Came to the office to write. Worked (hardly at all) on a project, wrapped an item for eBay. Announced to Len at 10:30 that I was sleepy and going to take a nap.

You know what he said?  He said, “Me, too.”

The following half hour he took the sofa and I took our bed and both of us slept like toddlers on cots.

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