Our house is on fire.
And still, the moon makes her nightly rounds and birds sing their spring songs when I walk the trails with my dogs. Limey green moss spreads up the trunks of oak trees. Within the trunk, the sacred sap rises and will soon green the tree tops. Like the virus, everything wants to grow.
I lean against my favorite red oak and feel my feet held on the earth. Grounded. Planted. Still strong.
The God Pan is doing his work, creating mayhem and forcing us into contact with a wildness we won’t forget. James Hillman’s Pan and the Nightmare is a title for our time. Pan is half goat and half man, a frenzy of wild nature and sexual energy, an unstable balance of disorder on the border of harmony. He releases mayhem in the world in preparation for something new and represents Nature we can’t control, but he also brings ecstatic dance and music with his Pan pipes. I could use a little wild dancing.
Pan is a shadow brother of the Green Man, the gentler god of renewal and life. In nature, the Green Man seems calm compared to Pan who brings unbridled change without discernible order or structure. Pandemic, Panic, Pandemonium. This virus.
The forces at play are impersonal and panoramic. I witness the Green Man aspect of nature on my walks and pray he will prevail. The tree of life will soon offer tiny green leaves, then flowers, then fruit and seeds to heal a suffering world.
While we wait for this crisis to ease, I stay close to home. The grocery store and streets feel ominous and unsafe, and I can’t read masked lips. I’m high risk because of age and, like everyone, I want to avoid hospitals and burdening the strained medical system. Cochlear implant hearing struggles with electronic sound which is how we communicate now. At home, I enjoy the natural world of spring peepers and bluebirds and watch tree swallows swoop through the sky.
I’ve practiced solitude since 2008 when my husband died, but never this extreme. My two dogs give me mammal touch and sound while I hone my hippie skills of gathering wild plants. My local son and his girlfriend give my garden a spring cleaning and feed the soil—all at a distance. The next day, I plant snow peas, sugarsnaps, and spring greens. Did I say how fortunate I am?
My friend Amy says Six Circles Farms delivers locally and she has a bag of organic root crops, carrots, and spinach. “I’ll bring half to you,” Amy says on the phone.
“You don’t have to do that,” I say. Why should she risk herself for me?
“It will be good to take a ride,” she says. “I want to.”
Dear Amy arrives with food and we stand outside, many feet apart, to talk a while. I want to wrap my arms around her, but love beams from her eyes. That’s enough, plus a spinach salad to share with my son and his girlfriend which I’ll leave in a container for pick-up on my porch.
I text Six Circles Farms and interact with an owner I’ve known since he was born. “I have garlic, spinach, turnips, radishes, carrots, and more greens,” he replies. “A big bag delivered for $20. You want some?”
“Yes, yes, yes.” With a weekly delivery of vegetables, a garden, and the moon, I’ll be fine.
My heart breaks with the suffering of the world and especially those in cities, in poverty, and in crowded places. My heart swells with love at the kindness of health care workers, friends, and family as we find new ways to reach out and take care of each other.
To read more about the Greek Mythological God Pan, see Ancient History Encyclopedia: Pan and Pan (Mythology): New World Encyclopedia. There’s so much I could say about what’s happening in my state of New York and especially in New York City. I’m grateful for our governor Andrew Cuomo. It’s hard to imagine the mess we’re in, but here we are.
How are you handling social distancing and isolation? How are you doing with not being able to go out or spend time with people you love? For other posts about surviving in hard times, see Have They Forgotten They Are Mortal? Lessons from Hecate. For my most popular post for hard times, see Poems to Grieve By.