EASTHAM — It started as a quick trip down the steps to the pond, with sandwich in hand, before a run into town to fetch bird seed from the Bird Watchers’ General Store. And then the plan was to go out on the flats to scratch for littlenecks and quahogs and see if I could get out far enough to catch that moment when the tide turns. Someone was just telling me about that, and I realized how long it had been since I got out that far at that moment.
The first thing that slowed me down was noticing the last of the Concord grapes had been eaten up by a different critter (from me). Next, from my dock, the pond was so still and covered with skittering water bugs leaving their wakes. That had me reflecting on what wake I and my fellow Homo sapiens are leaving on the waters around us.
Having moved into a metaphoric moment, I was brought back to my dock by a large snapping turtle coming up for air. Not the grandma snapper with the two-inch-diameter neck I’ve been swimming and kayaking with for years. But a senior citizen of the deep, nonetheless.
Next, a brown duck surfaced. Gradually it swam closer. It was a solitary, small duck. In my mind, I’m running to my Sibley Field Guide to learn whether this is a juvenile or just a small diving duck. Anyway, the two of us swam and stood together for some time. Catching the tide was entirely forgotten now. As I caught my small friend’s silhouette against the dark reflection of trees on the pond’s still surface, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude to be living here, to have fallen into the privilege of such enormous calm, peace, and beauty.
The thought that drew tears was how much I don’t want any more big changes. I know privilege must be shared. My abundance of comfort and good fortune is exceptional; my attachment to the freedom to linger on my dock is extraordinary. My friends who visited yesterday spoke of living in France as academics, of the many ways the state supports families and children, and the ways the bureaucracy is entangling and absurdly difficult to navigate. They also spoke of not sleeping well here now. They are terrified about the coming election, as so many are — perhaps from both sides, come to think of it.
And then my niece posted about being stalked by a man with a MAGA mask in the grocery store. He was wandering the isles with an empty cart, stopping in front of each person of color and staring. She decided to ignore him.
I want to summon support from any source that can be tapped. I think about angels, recognizing others believe in them more than I do. I think of the trees, their language of life-giving oxygen, and wish I understood their language better. I think about praying to God/Goddess/Great Spirit, and realize praying is another thing we must practice to be good at.
The resource I know how to tap is the love of friends who are dedicating every smidgeon of their spare time to creating diverse and beloved communities in a million ways, especially focusing on the neediest among us.
I pray I can be worthy of those friendships and able to help steer this leaking ship of state to safer harbors. We, as U.S. citizens, are being brought to our knees right now. I hope we can stand up together and adapt to some greater curiosity about each other, less greed, more conviviality, fewer advantages hoarded, and better stewardship of our shared planet.
Is this the moment?