Friday, March 26, 2021

When your hope shrinks, do a small thing to let the sunshine in

I tried to write a piece about the massacre of 10 innocents at the King Soopers in Boulder. Few subjects make me speechless but mass shootings are one of them. Archivists in 2121 may come across articles about massacres of civilians in the U.S. and thank their lucky stars that sensible gun laws finally were enacted in 20__ and that we would never see headlines like this again. That's as hopeful as I can be, that someday the U.S. will lose its cruel streak and the NRA will be bankrupt and all of our gun nuts will die from natural causes. There's hope in that. I liked these lines from a Naomi Shihab Nye poem I came across on the Poetry Foundation web site: 

When your hope shrinks 

you might feel the hope of 

someone far away lifting you up.

I'll write about the hope of small things. 

I bought a small grow-kit from Amazon. Nothing fancy. Just a metal tray, soil, and three seed packets. The chives and Florence fennel sprouted and are on their way to summer salads and desserts. I stuck some basil seeds in with my pot of Thai basil and still waiting for those. I planted chive seeds from but got nothing. I’m going to plant again today in a new pot and see if they do better. I like chives and you can put it in all sorts of dishes. But I can’t get it to grow. Best thing to do is buy some chives that already are far along and try not to kill them.

My herbs have taken over the end of the dining room table up against a south-facing kitchen window. The table is Formica laminate and is a remnant of 1950s kitchens. It’s in the mid-century modern (Mid-Mod) school of furniture. We had tables just like it when I was growing up. A perfect match for mac and cheese and meatloaf. I look at the table and see my mother and all of the many Susie Homemaker mothers of the era. My mom also was Anna the Nurse and knew when and when not to patch up our many wounds. When I was 7, our exchanges went something like this:

Me: Mom, I’m hurt! 
Mom: Are you bleeding?
Me: No but… 
Mom (kisses my head): Go outside and play – you’ll be all right.

Sometimes I was bleeding. She applied Mercurochrome to the wound and sent me outside to play. Writing about “Mercurochrome Memories” in ScienceBlogs, dblum writes that the bright-red antiseptic is a mercury derivative of a red dye discovered in 1889. The antiseptic version was developed 20 years later by researchers at Johns Hopkins, source of many of our magic potions and miracle meds. The FDA declared mercury a neurotoxin and it’s no longer made in the U.S. But never fear:

Science tells us that if once you were painted with Mercurochrome, your body has probably stored at least a trace for you. Nothing apparently too dangerous, just a reminder of your chemical past.

My chemical past. As a Downwinder from Colorado and Washington state, I already have some bomb-blast radiation in my body. And traces of lead paint – can’t forget that. I also have mercury in my dental fillings. And then there’s DDT. Damn, if I had known all this, I wouldn’t have lived to be 70 and (I hope) much longer.

I gave up ground gardening a few years ago when a spinal injury prevented bending and stooping. I grow my veggies in containers now. I’ve been successful although gardening at 6,200 feet in a semi-arid region continues to be a work in progress. My seedlings don’t go outside until mid-May. Most insects aren’t a problem but hail and wind and drought are. I keep growing things because it brings joy and I like the challenge of the cherry tomato harvest in August. You can get good ones at the store or farmer’s market. But I like to pick and eat them when they are still warm from the sun. It’s like eating sunshine. We all could use more of the simple act of nurturing a small thing to "let the sunshine in..."

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