There Will Come Soft Rains

Dear Liza,

I went out for a walk to the grocery store the other day, and took some pictures of our fabulously colorful Portland spring. There were not many people out, because of the shutdown, and the combination of uncanny quiet and lush flowers reminded me of something and tickled in the back of my brain.

I just figured out what it was.

There is a poem called There will Come Soft Rains, by Sara Teasdale. She wrote it 1918, in response to the horrors of World War I that the world was living through at the time. The Spanish Flu, spread by the movement of soldiers and lack of health measures, swept across the world at that time, killing 63,000 American soldiers, more than the enemy‘s weapons did.

Sara Teasdale was feeling as some of us are now, despairing of our capacity for self destruction, and the poem tells of the beauty of nature that will go on when mankind has finally wiped itself out.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous whit
e;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Our country has lost, so far, 72,000 people to Covid-19. It is so sad that it hurts to think about it. But most people are doing what they can, staying inside, wearing masks, sending help to family and neighbors, supporting the doctors and nurses. We are being our best selves. This is how we will survive.

And then we can get out into the springtime again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Different Kind of Drift…

Dear Liza,

When I tell you we have weather up here in Portland, understand that I mean WEATHER. Real, crazy swings of temperature and precipitation that can take your breath away.

For example, here are four pictures taken in our neighborhood.

These pink ones, showing the cherry blossom drifts covering everything in sight, were taken this past Wednesday, the 22nd of April.

These freezing cold white ones, showing snow coming down and creating sufficient drifts for small snowmen, were taken just five weeks ago, on March 15.

Now, these are both wonderful sights to see and even be out in, but I never expected to see them just over a month apart. Portland puts on a good show, even when the theaters and art galleries are closed!

And I am enjoying it no end.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out and About, Properly Masked

Dear Liza,

Yes, Portland does spring very well

After getting to chat with our neighbors last evening, I felt less like a hermit who wanted to stay in her cave. Today I got my mask on and walked three pleasant miles around the neighborhood.

I headed east on Belmont, because I knew heading UP hill first would make the return trip easier. I enjoyed the feeling of really warm sun on my face, and the incredible blooms that Portland offers in spring.

The view from under Historic Tree # 241

I passed Heritage tree #241, a wonderful Japanese Maple at the corner of 37th and SE Alder. It shades about 50 square feet of yard and sidewalk, stands 30 feet tall, and is simply a beautiful thing. It also gave me the metaphor of the day, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. It’s more about getting past despair than the virus at this point. And it’s coming soon.

Down on Hawthorne Street, I stopped at one of the few places still serving lunch, The Whole Bowl. Its tiny dining room was closed, but they were still serving wonderful spicy bowls for a good price. I was happy to eat, and they were happy for the business!

Healthy fabulous-ness from Whole Bowl

I noticed all the businesses we love that are closed for now, and wondered how many will be able to open again. Zach’s Shack, Belmont Books, even Powell’s, a branch of the mighty local bookstore. They are all suffering from loss or total lack of business.

Then I saw a bench with words of hope, finished my lunch in the sun, and cheered up. Passing a million more azaleas, lilacs, and dogwoods on the way, I headed home.

Lilacs

Love,

Grandma Judy

Up and At It Again

Dear Liza,

Pretty Florentines!

I have always known that I am happier when I am busy. Part of why I am sad during the shut down is that I have not been able to do research at the library or go for long walks around town.

After my friend Ruth cheered me up, I woke up this morning and decided to bake some cookies. I will to get them to Auntie Katie to share with her family and deliver to some of her Books with Pictures customers on her delivery route.

Ugly, but still delicious, Florentines

I like baking, and the good thing about baking fancy cookies like Florentines is, even when they are too ugly to give away, they are delicious! So, I cheered myself up by baking and eating cookies.

Sidewalk art

Then Auntie Bridgett and I celebrated Friday by getting take out dinner from Hoda’s Mediterranean Restaurant just a block away on Belmont. It was delicious, and enough food for lunch tomorrow, too. And we even got a short walk around the neighborhood to see the pretty dogwoods blooming.

Blooming dogwoods

I hope you are happy and helping your Mommy.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Tele-Seder-ing

Dear Liza,

Tulips, celebrating Springtime

This week is Passover, when we usually have a dinner with family to celebrate being together after all the hard times Jewish people have been through. This year we are staying apart and remembering, instead.

But the day started with little things. Dear Auntie Bridgett trimmed my hair, and Grandpa Nelson’s, because we were getting very shaggy. She has a good eye and did a nice job!

A new artist in the neighborhood!

Then I finished the masks I promised to friends in Salinas and we all walked to the Postal Annex to send them off. We are getting used to putting on masks every time we leave the house, though I will be glad when they are no longer needed. They steam up my glasses! Still, it was an incredibly beautiful Spring day, and the art and flowers were blooming.

Back home, we sat out on the balcony to rest and read, listening to conversations of dog walkers and folks going out for some take out pizza. We walked down to Rendezvous off Belmont to pick up some take out Manti and Poke…both yummy, even without Nour’s good company and ambiance.

Rendezvous, when we could sit inside

Auntie Katie texted us to arrange a Seder via Skype. She would do her two hours of deliveries from Books with Pictures while the lamb cooked in the slow cooker, then give us a call. We set up candles, wine, and matzoh on the table, along with Grandpa Nelson’s laptop computer.

Second night Seder… long distance style

It worked! We were all able to see and hear each other, read the same Haggadah, and enjoy being silly with each other. We even got to watch the cousins hunt for and find the Afikomen, and negotiate for its return. Their price? A pillow fight! It was clearly time to end the Skype and let the feathers fly … over there.

Dinner with the family!

Having to stay separate to stay safe is weird. It feels like the usual reaction to stress is to huddle together with all your people, but here we are, miles apart on purpose. But different problems call for different solutions, I guess.

Auntie Katie, realizing she has just agreed to a pillow fight

Hag Sameach!

Grandma Judy

It’s the Little Things

Dear Liza,

We have been staying inside a lot lately. Most days we don’t even step out the front door. And with our chilly spring, even the balcony isn’t very inviting.

Trees in Springtime lingerie

Yesterday when Grandpa Nelson and I walked half a mile to the grocery store, it felt like being let out of jail. We noticed the chilly sunshine on our faces and the tiny leaves sprouting from the trees, looking like lacy underwear. We noticed the kids on the trampoline, jumping high enough to laugh and wave at us over their back fence.

Neighborhood love showing itself

When we got home, we noticed that the dining table was covered with my mask-sewing stuff. Solution? A picnic! Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson moved the coffee table, laid out Momma’s picnic tablecloth, and put together a tray of crackers, Hard boiled eggs, goat Brie (yum), and fruits and veggies. It was a nice break from ordinary dinner, and let me start sewing the next day without having to set everything back up.

Indoor picnic!

And all over the neighborhood, we are noticing that neighbors are reminding each other that they are loved. We find notes posted on poles and chalk writings that make us smile and feel connected. Even when I’m not out in it, I love our neighborhood.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out… and then Down

Dear Liza,

Lovely blooms whose names escapes me…

This week I took advantage of a sunny day and went out for a short walk. It’s good to see that even with most folks inside, the rhododendrons and trilliums are open for Spring. The smell of jasmine makes invisible patches of sweetness that catch you by surprise.

Trillium!

There are still quite a few joggers and dog walkers in the park, and it’s not always possible to properly socially distance, so we walk in the neighborhood. Many folks have taken to crossing the street mid-block to avoid too-close contact, and there is usually a smile or friendly wave that goes with this, acknowledging each other but staying safe. People can be pretty darn wonderful.

Someone’s gift to a venerable tree

We are continuing to be careful but I may have caught a touch of the bug. Grandpa Nelson went out for groceries yesterday because I was feeling really tired, and Auntie Bridgett is just getting over a nasty spell of fatigue.

We are good at taking care of each other. Lots of ginger tea, fruits and veggies, and quiet time for naps will pull us through.

Love,

Grandma Judy