This essay was originally published on Medium.com.
I set out to write a blog for Mother’s Day; all my novels, including my new one, you see, have strong maternal themes. But as I type, I’m thinking too much about Earth Day, and feeling love for our communal mother, Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, sustainer of us all.
Returning to Rhode Island this spring and our home on the water with its endless views is something I will never tire of. This place is a true blessing in my life, a place my family loves to gather. We came back mid April in order to spend Passover with friends and family, however it is several weeks too soon as far as the weather is concerned. The spit of land on which our home sits is exposed to a stiff, prevailing wind all winter long and despite what the calendar says, the whitecaps on the water and gusts flattening the daffodils are laughing at us.
Branches and twigs scatter about the yard, remnants of the winter’s storms, and as last night’s weather whistled through the house and shook the windowpanes, my anxiety crept to levels that made it hard to sleep. The full moon brought with it an extreme high tide this morning that flooded our drive.
It is higher, I believe, than this time last year when the town came to repair the culvert between the marsh and the wetlands and then to repave. I look out the window and regard all that work as a futile human attempt at holding back the sea. Someday this land will be an island and we will either have to build a bridge to get here or row a boat or disband the place altogether. Everything that surrounds us is a lesson in impermanence.
When I was young Earth Day wasn’t a big thing, maybe you’d see people planting a tree, but worrying about the earth in 1970’s and 1980’s wasn’t what we did and I took for granted that the world as I was experiencing it would continue forever. And I remember Mother’s Days of the past in a similar fashion, drawing a heart on a piece of construction paper and folding it in half for my mother or later buying her paltry token from a convenience store with my allowance. I hadn’t understood back then our Mother’s Days were numbered and she would die without a proper goodbye.
We have a friend with a large Andy Goldsworthy sculpture on his property. It looks like a human scale beehive, exposed to the wind, rain and sun which means it’s slowly eroding…
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