Linda Rand with her next Pandemic Diaries column “Summer Elegy in Our Time of COVID,” experiencing the change in seasons and what yet lies ahead.
It’s been a hard week after a hard summer during a hard year. Each stress peak feels like tenterhooks, to subside as personal catastrophes are averted, again and again and again. The relief feels like euphoria. To be alive. Tonight, a row of pines hold sentinel, my only counsel this week, and now I rest easy before them, thankful until the next storm. A bat flitters by as twilight drapes itself over the butterfly bush and blackberries, crickets begin their rhythmic song.
This has been a summer of tear gas and fire. And so much death: a million from the virus with over 200,000 dead here in the States. Top health experts predict 400,000 by January. But the grapes are still sweet with their powdery bloom. Kisses too, that I feel down to my knees. It’s enough to keep a person alive in these times. That, and the apples falling from the trees. Coyote song on sweltering nights, wine that slips down the throat like a silky ribbon.
We’ve had a summer of injustice too, and it can feel like drowning in a gruesome legacy. Breonna Taylor’s killers weren’t even indicted for her death. One officer was indicted for endangering a neighboring white family when bullets entered their apartment. A Black family also had bullets enter their apartment but no counts were filed. Tonight, the presidential debates began and the Proud Boys have already made “Standing By” shirts.
At the beginning of summer, I was full of want, so isolated I ached. With a mask and safely distanced, I met a friend and we walked Powell Butte. Under a hypnotic sky he led me to the old orchard where the pear trees droop heavy. A sort of frenzy danced from my chest into my arms while I traipsed about the boughs, grabbing little pears, stuffing my leather jacket pockets, giddy. I had to force myself to stop while he laughed. As summer spun out before me, I found my arms often laden with gifts of bounty, and I learned to say yes with more ease, to give back.
It’s only been fall for a week, but the yellow leaves blow by, the trees flame red. There is an unease that nestles into the troughs of sleepy pleasure. It feels like something winding up. The season has turned. I don’t know which way the pendulum will swing in any arena, but I’m thankful that I was sated. It’s cold and when I put on my leather jacket, forgotten for a few months, I’m surprised to find a couple of dried pears.
(Photo by Linda Rand)