Home & Away series

Sometimes my hometown breaks my heart. Heroin needles at my son’s favorite fishing hole. House and car doors locked against increasing thefts. Immigration raids targeting some of the most hardworking among us. One June, Pete carried an abandoned fawn up from the beach, all dark eyed and twig-legged. We tried to give her water, warmth. He was holding her when she bent her willowy neck back and died. Same with the baby mallard. I think now that maybe I should have carried the duckling against me to keep it warm, but it was crawling with lice and it may not have helped. It’s hard to keep small wild things alive. After Cait stepped on a bees’ nest this summer and they stung her face and neck and feet, she didn’t want to go outside for a week. She panicked if I slipped out to hang the laundry or turn on the generator. We were back to holding hands everywhere. Fear too, is wild and hard to tame. Weeks later she watched me ‘rescue’ a bumblebee worn out from beating at a fixed pane window. We set it on an alder branch. And then another bee on another day, until she raced to help when we heard buzzing and finally her fear abated, as it may have with time alone. And yet, what a miracle and marvel to care for lives besides our own. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful, writes Mary Oliver. If we lived as if our care defined us, or our failures of kindness, would we do better at treating one another gently, knowing we are each of us nursing some brokenness? This summer a friend found a note folded away for thirty years at the fishsite where she grew up. Her dad wrote it one morning before he left his sleeping daughters for a day of beach cleanup during the Exxon oil spill in 1989, decades before an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Be peaceful in your hearts and kind to each other. We’ll be home for lunch.