What can we do?

My studio is my refuge. Light pours in through second story double windows. Beyond is a wooded neighborhood and nearby a large shade tree.

My husband has his own refuge, his man cave, a woodworking shop in one half of our garage. Surrounded by saws, sanders, and assorted tools, he disappears for hours everyday to make birdhouses or repair furniture.

We text each other as if we were in separate buildings, away at work. We meet for happy hour on the deck and share dinner. Occasionally we eat lunch at the same time. He makes coffee for us in the morning and pancakes for Saturday breakfast. We start each day together and finish together.

For landscaping chores, we team up, as we did this last week in the fence row. A vigorous privet hedge and young mulberry trees had invaded a working path separating our neighbor’s yard from ours. With gloves, boots, water bottles, lawn chairs, chain saw, loppers, lawn tractor and trailer—we went armed into the overgrown brush. For three mornings I sawed, he cut, we pulled and pushed and hauled away. Although we rested often in our lawn chairs, we cleared a 50 by 4 foot swath.

A friend says to me, “We have everything we need, food, shelter, each other, and lots of space.” It’s a reminder not to take simplicity for granted, not to complain, not to desire unnecessarily.

Yesterday a young friend said, “I love my husband dearly, and since we have been isolated together, I have realized I truly like him!” Together they’ve fashioned a nursery for their soon-to-be-born son, something she says they would not have normally done together.

I could be writing about the horrors of the pandemic, or of social justice, or anarchy, or cultural wars, or politics and religion. But I wouldn’t do a good job. I’m not an authority on those subjects, although I try to be reasonably informed.

There was a time when I marched for social justice and fair government. I wrote letters, called my representatives, sat on boards, worked on community service projects, advocated for children and the homeless. I still believe in those activities.

We are, however, realistic. We have little time left. The pandemic has squeezed time for us, given us boundaries within which we must shelter together. We cannot visit with our children. We cannot travel. We cannot… well, we cannot and cannot. So what can we do?

I can paint. Recently I’ve been painting scenes from Cape Cod. I spent hours looking at photos, searching for ideas.

Here’s a common trope I painted, just for fun. I can’t exhibit it because it’s a copy of a well known photograph.

My Virtual Beach Plein Air Painting

Normally between April and October Herb donates his birdhouses to fundraiser auctions held by nonprofit organizations. Because those auctions haven’t been held, he has accumulated some fifty birdhouses ready for when community life resumes or when an alternative to live auctions is conceived.

Gretchen’s Choice

In the meantime birds in our yard enjoy palatial homes.

We can complicate our life with frustration over cancellations and restrictions or we can use what we have. We have chosen possibility not disability, courage not discouragement. Sometimes, he shouts. Sometimes I weep. Some days we collapse. But mostly we carry forth accepting our place in time and acting on faith.

Excerpted From Joshua 1:1-9

I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you…Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get where you’re going.

Surely how we use our bodies and minds will encourage others to live with courage and faith. Believe. We are not alone.

5 thoughts on “What can we do?

  1. Nice. I am always reminded of the simplicity of my grandparents’ (both sides) life style. Simplicity and peace were more evident in my Rinne grandparents. It was very nice.

    Have I told you I now have my grandma Rinne’s pump organ. It’s beautiful and it works. *From Dorothy * [image: ]

  2. Ah, CREATIVITY! I have sent other THANK YOU messages, but I am not certain that they reached your mailbox. To HERB AND DIANE: I have had he greatest pleasure sitting on my secluded back porch, thanks especially to Herb. His Octagon Hall birdhouse (copy of the real house in Franklin) has been the scene of a birthing place for wrens. So much work to raise little ones….which production was so much fun to watch. The activity ceased when little ones left the nest, but now, a few days later, a repeat process has begun. Such attention to detail! Squirrels are attracted to my nearby, long-established feeder, along with low-hanging branches of two old pecan trees, but wrens, uninterrupted, continue their dedicated work at that beautiful house. Based on this report, one can easily understand how my couple of afternoon gins and tonic are downed with a smile. tom

  3. You both are keeping busy with interests you love…the time flies when you’re doing something enjoyable…at least I find that. That heavy chore in the yard must have wore you both out! Stay safe, steady and put joy into the waking hours…we are now at that point in life when each day is very meaningful. Love, Pat

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