A lot of us are going to miss Nanci Griffith, who died recently at the age of 68. She had two notable gifts: a voice that hit the ears like liquid crystal, and the ability to capture perfect, illuminating moments in time and put them to music. Ms Griffith, we imagine you flew away to heaven on that blackbird's wing.
Talking about Nanci Griffith is relevant to what I want to say this week, and it also relates to that photo above. The photo shows the pond at Fly-Away Farm, shortly before the whole church showed up to hold service in the big barn. There was a cookout afterwards, fishing in the pond, and an old-time music concert in the barn. That's how our Sunday went – perfect weather, good food, and friends to share the day with.
When I got home, I turned on the computer and discovered that Kabul was in chaos. I remembered my friend Naz, the one whose Farsi class I attended. (No lie: the only Farsi sentence I remember is 'Yam passport daram1,' which would be a good thing to be able to say in Kabul right now.) I remember how Naz said that, back in the '60s, the noisiest thing in Kabul was the noon cannon. I remembered the students from my university who used to do their Junior Year Abroad in Afghanistan, heading out into the countryside with the anthropology department and coming back with glowing tales. I envied them.
This morning, I saw a video clip on Twitter of a man falling off a plane that was taking off. They're that desperate to get away. I wanted to cry.
Last week, the videos were all of houses falling down in the earthquake in Haiti. The numbers from Covid are up again. I see daily tributes to lost loved ones in my social media feed.
Nanci Griffith sang, 'It's a hard life wherever you go.'
And I asked myself: what are we doing bringing you this ezine in the middle of all this suffering?
Here we are with photos of pretty landscapes. Birds and blossoms. Stories of owl rescue. The rain on my neighbour's flowers. Recipes for summer food. Don't we know it's a hard life? That the world is suffering?
We do, indeed, know that. We know it the way Nanci Griffith knew that. Her song about the 'hard life' contrasted her childhood optimism with what she encountered as an adult on tour in Northern Ireland and Chicago: 'if we poison our children with hatred, the hard life is all that they'll know.'
Can a song be a step towards an antidote? Or a photo? Or a video of rain and flowers? Can we make a contribution by feeding a bird? Is our love for the natural world around us worth anything at all? We think it is.
Yes, we know what's going on. And no, we can't jump up and fix it. Yes, it will take more than saying 'Look at the pretty flowers.' But we've got to start somewhere. We're not doing this out of some sense that the suffering in the world has nothing to do with us. We're doing it because the suffering in the world has something to do with us.
We report what we see and hear. Where I am was lucky this week – we have no earthquakes or wars to report. Some of us have had Covid. An earlier draught of this editorial added, 'but no one has died so far.' Then Willem wrote this:
Loads of people are now getting COVID and one of my friends died, Joe Grosel ... he was about 55 and a major figure in conservation here in South Africa, his team usually did best in the country every Birding Big Day. He'll be sorely missed.
So that sadness, too, hit us. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong: time and chance happen to us all.
So here, for what it's worth, is our contribution to this week: some humour, a few observations, videos and photos of nature. Which is as endangered as humanity if we don't learn to love it better. This week, Awix reflects on what it means to have written 20 years' worth of movie reviews: it's a not inconsiderable accomplishment from our point of view. So look and learn. Say something nice to each other. And try to make this coming week a little better for your neighbour than the one before it.
Quote of the Week: No one is intimidated by a linguist. You're basically an English Major who wasted more time.
|ENCOUNTERS WITH WILDLIFE|
What is it?
Rosa's home for nature.
|UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL|
Missing a friend.
Summer salad sandwiches.
|THERE'S A STORY IN THERE|
Pandemic advice from the past.
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