Who would have thought? One hundred and ninety days of quarantine. Of isolation. Through the spring and summer. Thousands upon thousands dead. Millions sick. People broke, thrown out of their houses. Other people getting richer than God.
I don’t know how to wrap a story around a pandemic; around a story with millions of sub stories. Do I start with someone going to the ER on multiple nights because they are suffocating? And the ER not admitting them because there are no beds? Or an ER doc trying to keep his exhausted team meticulous about their PPE even when a COVID patient is crashing and choking the room with contagion?
Or when the stock market reaches new highs? Or when the sins of the fathers, Jim Crow, and slavery slap us all in the face?
It is one of the first days of fall. In the 70s in the morning and in the 60s at night, still hot during the day. Fast clouds roll from the south - low, stringy, thickening as morning progresses. The high sky atmosphere background changes from a dim gray blue to a brighter blue with sharp yellow and whites in the cloud gaps. Fractures in the sky highlighted by the rising sun. The earth is still pink around the edges, as if new.
I bought seeds for wildflowers yesterday. It is called Comanche mix. The Comanche ran this part of the world for a long time until they were destroyed by the whites. It seems like a complex story. I read a book called Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne. It is wonderful. Rich and dark. I drive by a place called Dead Baby Hill (I think). It is on the Cherokee road to Llano. It may be in that book. I don’t know. It all runs together in my head.
I have an arrowhead that I found in front of my cabin. It was after a rain. The point is broken off and it was laying on the ground. Abandoned but Shining. By itself. As it had been placed there that morning. This place was a camp for thousands of years. A neighbor said the point was just as old - thousands of years. So people have been coming to this place by the clear waters of this river for as far back as people have been here. Birds animals maybe dinosaurs were here too? Time is a slippery thing. All those ghosts haunting this place. As I said, the past is always with us. Like the prosperous. Like the poor.
The flower seeds in the Comanche mix are:
A kind neighbor will run a disk over the sandy soil and I will broadcast the seeds. The seeds come from a place in Junction Texas. They gather them together or harvest them. Then sell them. Put them in bags and mail them. They will come by the US Postal Service - the backbone of rural life. Then from my hand to the lightly disked ground. Sun soil water. The turning earth leaning this way and that. Then flowers in the spring 2021. I have not done this before. It is new.
A patch of flowers on ground made sacred by thousands of years of living and dying. By a reliable sun. By wind, water, seed gatherers, the postal service, a neighbor with a disk pulled behind an ATV fueled by the dead dinosaurs and the swamps from billions of years ago maybe when this river ran or even before this river ran.
When my well drillers drilled for water here so that I could put my cabin on the banks of the river, I did not know where to put the well. Where to drill. The well digger, whose family had drilled thousands of wells for rural people for over a hundred years said -
Where the earth wants water, is where we will find it.
He chose a place and drilled and water poured out of the ground. Fresh, cold and clean. Of course it poured out because it was forced by air pumped down hole but it was still beautiful. The source and sustenance of everything that lives.
It is water from that well, from that place where the earth wants water that I will sprinkle on the Comanche mix (heavily weighted to Daisies), above the deeply buried ancient camps. Wild Flowers on old unmarked graves. The Commanche mix.
Let there be life.