Sunday, April 19, 2020

Life on the Island - À grands maux, grands remèdes

Every time I start to write something down for a blog post, I stutter. Who cares what we’re drinking or who we’re drinking it with? Or if we’re alone or with another? Or if it matches with the food we’re having? Or if the wine was made by someone who is suffering from this virus, or maybe even died from it? That level of omphaloskepsis in times like this seems a bit inane. It may be your life, what you do. Wine. But in the meantime, there’s been a seismic shift on earth.

So, I’ve come up with my plan, here on the island where I am marooned for the time being. These are my remedies in this era of the great ailment.

Be here – now

Food and wine in this moment, when people are hanging on by a thread, struggling to find money to put the bare essentials on their table, is not paramount. Yes, I go to the grocery store and buy food to eat. And yes, I have wine stored from a lifetime and career in the wine trade. But this is not a time to celebrate. So, I will eat carefully, and not too much. And I will occasionally have wine. My personal allocation is 250ml. 

I will continue to get up in the morning, eat a healthy breakfast and shave and shower. And exercise. I will check in on the outside world, news and friends. But then, I will close the laptop, put the phone down and go outside. There is a mockingbird in the back who chants, “Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio,” and I am fascinated by her dilemma of choice. It’s probably the best thing I’ve heard (or read) about wine in the last two months.

The wild parrots, and we have a pandemonium of them, all of them quite insane, interrupt the mockingbird, regularly. At which point the mockingbird, recalibrates and goes back into her vinous mantra. But she isn’t judgmental towards them or me, as she sings alone up in her high place. She is simply sharing her music with those of us all around, even if parrots scream and shout and fly about. Coping. It really is a wonderful diversion, even if I have anthropomorphized their actions.

Further up above, on the power lines, is a sparrow hawk couple with their new brood. The papa loves to soar and hear the sound of the breeze beneath his wings. He catches a thermal from time to time, which reveals to us his mastery of his world. Meanwhile, the mother finds little bits to eat for her chicks. I can hear them squeal with delight when she brings something she hunted in the green space beyond the island.

Even higher is the bluest sky I’ve seen in years. And in the sky is the moon, the sun, the stars and the galaxies beyond. This might seem awesome and terrifying right now, but we’re on this spaceship, speeding through the universe at 80,000 miles per hour. It is awesome and terrifying.

Down below, in the garden, the fire ants are waging a campaign to survive among the basil and the eggplant. They seldom win a battle, but they haven’t lost the war, not by a long mile. They are survivors, they are resilient and they are built to adapt to change.

The anole spied me yesterday, while I was watering. So I thought. I kept my distance, not wanting to impinge upon his space. But he was in his zone, and couldn’t care less about me. He was on the hunt. It was lunchtime.

After lunch, I laid down in the grass with my old yellow cat, Buttercup, and we fell asleep in the sun. And I had the strangest dream.

Buttercup was talking to me. “I’m a good girl,” she told me. Yes, she is a good girl. In fact, she, like all the wild things on this island, is a comfort. I don’t know if I can go back to the humans so readily. Off the island, they still seem to be in denial that there has been a "change of plans."

The rose bush that I planted on the east side 22 years ago never liked it there. Too dark, damp and lonely. I pulled her up last year and planted her on the west side, sunny and bright. Now she’s blooming more in April than she did in all of the last 22 years. A small victory.

“I’m so glad he finally heard me,” she said. 22 years.

The lettuces in the nearby garden chuckled. “Omphaloskepsis, indeed,” they all chanted in unison.

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