Walk, Annie, acorn, coffee, chit chat

On a hot summer Saturday I took to the streets of Clifton, trying to walk out my woes. At one point during this pandemic, my pastor David Meredith suggested stomping out my anger on a walk. But it was in the high 80s, so stomping seems hard.

I head to the park near my house – Burnet Woods. This gem (and sometimes misunderstood) of a green space has been a real gift during the pandemic.

The shade of the giant trees felt like a reward after my climb up the hill to the bandstand area. Trees surround this gorgeous structure and last summer was home to Wednesday evening concerts. Kids would run and play while adults danced, toe tapped and socialized.

bandstand in park

The Burnet Woods bandstand.

In early August, acorns are already falling. I stop to breathe and think about how Eddie and I would bring the boys here when they were toddlers. They loved picking up acorns and putting them in their wagon. The day of Calvin’s fateful but life-saving MRI, we did this walk to distract him and ourselves, I suspect.

Now we’re all dealing with COVID and things often feel hard and uncertain. I pick up an acorn and think, ‘Calvin is now ok. It will be ok.’ Certainly the days and months to follow were a series of highs and lows as he navigated brain surgery, chemo and recovery but he’s almost 11 now, healthy and happy.

I held an acorn and felt better. So, this is where I end my story with some advice that I know we’ll all get through this, yada yada yada but I’m not wired that way.

kids in wagon

The wagon days. I miss those little Justin Timberlake hats.

I walk down the hill back into the neighborhood. I see my friend Annie in her car and she pulls over. Annie emanates joy and comfort wherever she goes. Sure, she has her struggles but there’s something special and magical about her. She asked me how it was going and through my mask, I started to cry. It’s not like I forgot about the acorn and the wonder of Calvin but my problems didn’t leave in those 10 minutes. I’m not that Zen. But perhaps Annie is because standing in the hot sun, I feel better. Sometimes we just need to be heard and loved.

I walk to the local coffee shop and find my neighbor at the register. I often see this woman and her roommates walking her dog; during the shut down my entire neighborhood seemed to bond. We chatted and you know what, I felt great. Something had been restored.

Walk, acorn, Annie, tears, coffee, chit chat.

Maybe it’s my new mantra.

Stay safe friends.

Back with the books next time. 

Community in a pandemic

I sent my neighborhood friend a text. “It makes me happy to see you walk by my house……oh, I guess that is creepy.”

She sent me a creepy clown emoji and an lol.

I’ve spent the last weeks working from home in our bedroom upstairs while Eddie tackles the schooling downstairs. Sometimes, the sound of bickering floating up the stairs stresses me out. Other times, a cute kid will pop his head in with a question or story – even if I’m in a virtual meeting. Often, I realize the privilege of my safe perch – a bay window in our sunny room, a cat snoring on my bed.

When I’m not engrossed in my screen, I’ll give myself a break and look out the window. (I have to put my glasses on or it’s all a blur.) I have a spectacular view of our street – green lawns, spring blooms and whoever is walking by.

These days, my view and my daily walks have led me to ponder (when I’m not having a pity party, let’s be frank) my good fortune to live where I do. I think of all the people nestled in their houses, sheltering in place. I consider that I’m lucky to be able to visit a park, walk in a beautiful neighborhood and have six feet conversations with my multiple neighbors.

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I’m lucky to be able to walk to Burnett Woods. I wish I had taken a daily shot of this view every day of the pandemic. 

Walks and chatting at a distance are a balm. My family ran into her our former next-door-neighbors a few days ago. It was lovely. Physically seeing them reminded me of how neighborhoods are made for connections.

My neighborhood friends have certainly both supported and celebrated with my family in the past. In my slice of community, I see kindness all around. My neighbors are stopping to talk as they walk their dogs (the poor dogs don’t understand why others won’t pet them) or work in their yards. Some are checking in on each other through phone calls and texts, dropping off baked goods and generally cheering each other on. I’m so lucky to be around these good people.

These are things I try to hold on to on the days it feels like too much.

Now for the books

Calvin has been cracking up at Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke. (There is a mouse called Dr. Cheese.) I think Max has started the third Harry Potter book. Honestly, we just need to get through the last week of school.

I just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney. Two friends (hello Kathy and Harper) have been raving about it and they were correct – it’s good. My book club is reading Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. Also amazing. I feel like I’m making progress that I can actually focus on some good literature. (Shout out to Greg at Downbound Books for the delivery.)

Class of 2020

I need to recognize two special young women that are missing their senior year. My former sidekick, Meredith Morgan, and my Ivory Soap baby, Frances Porter. I can’t give them back what they are missing but I am proud of them both. (For Mariemont readers, their moms are Karen Sabo and Eloise Waters.)

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Here’s Calvin and our favorite turtle. My kids have a thing for turtles