Life Cut Short


Numbers rising, mandatory masks, hospitals full and bars closed. All this and the college students haven’t really arrived yet. My world consists of wandering up the street to my daughter’s house, forays into our vegetable garden and pickups at the grocery store. Occasionally we don protective armor to hit the hardware superstore at the earliest hours and never on weekends.

My husband began to watch baseball again until the games were cancelled one by one because of Covid cases. The local schools push back their starting dates later and later. Restaurants reinvent themselves monthly. My writing is limited to supply lists for online orders, and my art relegated to decorating window shades with markers. My attention span is too limited and distracted for even the easy summer paperback reading.

Today I discovered that almost all of my houseplants are infested with tiny thrips that I can barely see now with my lack of close vision. My husband called it a pandemic, and I thought how appropriate, of course I need my own private pandemic on top of the national one. And then I got to thinking about other little pandemics going on around me; aphids engulfing the nasturtiums, spider mites sucking all the life out of pole beans, the usual Japanese beetle invasion and a plague of flea beetles on the arugula.

Then there’s the animal kind like the hopping hordes of rabbits (seven frolicking under our back porch one morning!), a rotating rodeo of groundhogs, voraciously domesticated deer herds and the raucous starling tenements in my neighbor’s eave.

All summer I waited patiently for a volunteer sunflower to bloom that I had moved to my front garden. It was just starting to flower when I walked by one morning to find the doomed bloom hanging by a thread, already wilting in hot summer sun, some sort of brown beetle making another fresh cut as straight as a surgeon’s incision in its stem.

My good mood deflated instantly. Was there nothing in this world allowed to achieve its full glory without threats from predators, disease and bad weather? Unwilling to accept another life derailed, I grabbed the flower after flicking off the offending bug, and brought my poor victim into the house to revive it in a vase.

From the photo above, you can see that it has continued to unfurl into a beam of light enjoyed in my dark interior, a fitting tribute to its resilience in spite of a life cut short and best laid plans gone awry. May we all find inspiration in the little accomplishments around us even as arrogant civilizations fail and topple in the storm.

10 thoughts on “Life Cut Short

  1. That is no ordinary color. Not mere yellow, but true to its name: it warms. Your post is filled with grief, and you have said it well for all of us; we are wondering if life is just one pandemic after another. Or, more likely, multiple simultaneous pandemics. And we do ask ourselves whether anything is fated to survive, reason already almost snuffed out. And do we have any control at all? Will the two-legged beetles chew us all into brokenness?

    Thanks for saying it for all of us, especially gardeners.

    1. Thanks for reading, Maureen. Sadly, I’ve become accustomed to the daily lessons in letting go of control, and try to look for moments of joy and humor. And I remain grateful for what I still have. Fortunately, gardening continues to provide the perfect metaphors. Hope you are safe and well, my friend.

  2. Tamara, can you still paint? It brought you such joy I hope that you can continue with your gift, even with reduced vision. Magnifying glasses like jewelers use?

    1. Thank you for the reminder, Carolee! I did find joy in painting so maybe it’s time to dust off the art supplies and paint in the garden. Your garden posts continue to brighten my days. As for sight, I manage with readers but it’s also time to get new glasses!

  3. Definitely go back to painting. Fine detail is unnecessary for art. You just need to enter a new period. Art is the main thing I do when not working at the store.

    Seven rabbits frolicking under your back porch? Vera says you have the seed of a children’s book there.

    Hoping for some movement forward by fall!

    1. Good advice, indeed, Mike! I so enjoy your beautiful beadwork and artful creations. I always forget how therapeutic creating art can be. I’m looking forward to a better fall, as well, and love Vera’s take on the bunnies and a children’s book.

  4. Shirah Eliashiv

    I’m sorry that the comfort of gardening has been lost thanks to all the wildlife descending upon you. I’ve found this is a perfect time for drawing and painting. You have complete control over your creations. And, the impressionists made of point of avoiding detail for the overall image of light and color.

    1. Thanks for the creative art nudge, hope you are finding joy in creative pursuits, Shirah. I still find pleasure in my flowers that are resistant, and harvesting enough veggies to make the gardening worthwhile. Life is certainly an adventure these days. Stay safe and well my friend.

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