Connections: Troubling Times

On most mornings, looking for solace, I turn to nature

The day before New Year’s, I found myself wondering if there were resolutions I should make. Perhaps I could come up with something simple, promise myself not to go to bed with dishes in the kitchen sink or lights on in the living room. My husband makes sure the pots and pans are scrubbed before he calls it a day, and as a morning person, I am up and at it early the next day to put them away.

With newfound energy, I look forward to the beginning of a nice day — and The New York Times. Even though I know The Times can be read online, I like finding it on the front lawn. With a cup of coffee in hand, I think of it as a comfortable routine. But as I write this, it is the last day of 2018, and The Times is anything but comforting.

The headlines on the front page read: “C.I.A.’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger,” “Trump Digs In, Dimming Hope of a Budget Deal,” “Stunning Fall of Nissan’s Brash Savior,” “How a PowerPoint Slide Tangled McKinsey in a U.S. Bribery Case,” and “Cultural Shifts Sweep Away a California Bastion of Conservation.” Nothing positive there.

On most mornings, looking for solace, I turn to nature — the birds and houseplants. The birds are satisfying to take care of, and easy. You keep a feeder full of seed and an eye out to identify what they are, although I have to admit I cannot tell one sparrow-like bird from another. A family member who had not lived on the East Coast before marrying and moving here not only knows them all but can distinguish between the males and females. 

All right, to be honest, I can say I know one cardinal from another. The red males brighten the yard and the subtle, tannish-yellow females are beautiful to see. As for the house plants, I enjoy the almost constant fussing they require. No matter how frequently I tend them, though, there is more to do — a dead leaf I missed on a first foray to be removed, for example, and a plant to be turned so the side that warrants more sun gets it.

I think concentrating on these things instead of the news, or the chores and responsibilities that lie ahead, allows for a good morning. The trouble is that each day brings more than mornings. Ideas and events that do not necessarily bode well have a way of intruding. But let’s forget the news. 

I am counting on the Chinese to set things right. The 4,716th Chinese year begins on Feb. 5, and 2019 is said to be the year of the brown or female earth pig. According to the Chinese, a female pig is a portent of good news. I am hoping she makes the new year one of the best.