May 21: Back when I used to walk to the Metro, I would pass through a lightly wooded park with lofty ambitions. In 2019, foresters planted a hundred seedlings, each encased in a lime green tube to foil the deer. I walked through the park again today. Scattered across a wedge of grass were miniature trees of different species. The trunks may have resembled pencils, but the leaves were grown up and determined to fulfill all my hopes for them.
May 22: So much busyness. But instead of emails, Zoom calls and lists, I sit at the beach and see: a dozen pelicans gliding inches from the ocean surface. A mom pointing to cresting dolphins. Little girls running toward the sea foam and retreating just as fast. Thirty surfers lined up for the next swell, and a few cutting up and down the barrel of a wave. And me, I am busy too, doing absolutely nothing except enjoying the sun and breeze and others’ joy.
May 23: I went back to Assateague Island State Park in Maryland today. And on this hot beautiful day, I was certainly not alone. I saw horses in the surf, horses along the dunes and then horses, tired after a long day at the beach, trudging up the sandy ramp towards home. Just like me, but without the chair and umbrella!
May 24: To reach our local auto body shop (and my wobbly car), I walked along the creek under a mature canopy of trees. At the end of the path, a toddler held a mysterious something up to his mom. I asked to see it too. With the mother’s blessing, Miles and I then talked about what he’d found. A small scoop? Or perhaps — with all the funny brown bumps and ridges — part of a huge dried mushroom cap. I was grateful for the chance to admire something I might never have noticed.
May 25: During a rare highway journey, I was stalled in traffic at the perfect spot to watch a freight train pass overhead. It boasted cars in all the shapes and colors of a child’s toy: rust red boxes, white tankers, and brown platforms walled in wire. Fifteen minutes later I saw a second freight train with still more brightly colored cars in pairs and triplets. Such luck! Maybe someday I’ll just pull over and enjoy the entire array — and perhaps a caboose too.
May 26: The cicada are singing! Out my window they sound like a distant fleet of cars activating their alarms at the same time. But in the woods nearby, the sound is almost deafening, ferocious and far more exotic than anything we could have dreamed up. I am happy to wait 17 years for each return of Brood X, so that my awe stays ferocious too.
May 27: Tickled by a light breeze, my (empty) can of Blue Moon beer skittered shyly across the glossy aluminum table of our local hamburger joint. I’d guide the can back, and off it would go again, just a few inches in distance but miles in persistence. Perhaps it was preparing me for the spectacular sight on the way home: an enormous full moon, glowing gold within its halo and calling all its children.
Bonus: A few years ago, I wrote a post called “Two Words, No ‘e’” about my name. I sent it to my beleaguered colleague, Mary Beth Claude, and she replied with this tale:
“I read your blog and, wow, was that a complete reflection of my own life! My mom originally was going to name me after my mother’s mother, Mary Elizabeth. She filled out the birth certificate at the hospital, but then received a card from her mother referring to me as “Mary Beth.” My mom got the birth certificate back, kind of put a hole in the form erasing it (yeah, back in the day), and changed my name to Mary Beth. Like you, I didn’t know “Beth” was my middle name until much later.
“It’s actually become a tradition of sorts, Mary Elizabeth was my grandmother’s name and she preferred people to call her Mary Elizabeth, my mother is Marianne (one word, spelled with an “i” no space and NO middle name). Then me, Mary Beth (two words, and yes, Beth is my middle name, but I go by Mary Beth). So of couuuurse I had to do the same shenanigans with my poor daughter, Rosemary Elizabeth, but we call her Rosey (“ey” at the end not “ie”; it’s already been a mess)). I feel the exact same as you do. Mary is a great name, but I AM NOT MARY!”
Thank you, Mary Beth. If people trip over your name, perhaps you’ll enjoy that post too.
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