My neighbours had to have their elderly dog humanely destroyed yesterday, a sad day for them, and it was sad too not to hear his cheerful barking when I went out into the garden to fill up the bird bath with water and cut lavender before the bees wake up and resent the intrusion.
Tomorrow has been officially declared World Rabies Day, which makes me a trifle tetchy because tomorrow is my birthday, not a soberversary but a birthday-birthday. As a child in East Africa I grew up with rabies scares and support more awareness on the disease but I wish my birthday could have been named as International Ice Cream Day or something more festive. At the weekend I shall celebrate my birthday at the weekend with friends and plenty of homemade ice cream.
It is a week of mourning here because of the death of Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan eco-warrior, from ovarian cancer at the age of 71. A remarkable activist who encouraged poor women to plant 30-million trees and restore many deforested and arid areas of Kenya, went to prison, was beaten, harassed and threatened before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
“It is evident that many wars are fought over resources which are now becoming increasingly scarce. If we conserved our resources better, fighting over them would not then occur…so, protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace…those of us who understand the complex concept of the environment have the burden to act. We must not tire, we must not give up, we must persist.”
Bunches of lavender on the windowsill in the bathroom, more bunches tied and suspended above the kitchen counter, tall airy wands of French lavender with a sharply astringent fragrance that fills the house. Outside the tapestry of trees is thickening with intricate deep foliage. A green world, tunneled, canopied and feathered with shadow.
Reading notes from a sober friend on her struggle with melancholy, a weariness and gloom that darkens each day, makes her reality darker than she knows it to be, sours her interactions with family and obscures what is vital and promising all around her. My own struggle this last year has been with anxieties, some realistic (the housemate’s angina, strained finances, unsafety) and some the wild imaginings that arise after the midnight hour. We share something though: the challenge of what to do with the feelings surfacing after years of chemical numbness and suppression. What cannot be changed must be endured, the difficulty of living with ourselves, cultivating patience. Waiting to glimpse light at the end of a tunnel, reminding ourselves there is both light and dark out there even if we are floundering in obscurity.
Lines from John Berryman come to both of us as consolation:
Forsake me not when my wild hours come;
grant me sleep nightly, grace soften my dreams;
achieve in me patience till the thing be done,
a careful view of my achievement come.