Because I Have The Time

 

Stay at home and socially distancing tidbits

 

Around the House

 

Daily chores are now performed by me with a rare calm. A greater appreciation results even as I cut the veggies. The clever design, the symmetry, the arrangement of shapes and colors within and even the sound produced as the knife goes through them to meet the board, is distinct to each kind. The ensuing rhythm is catchy. The odor emanating from different oils is suddenly caught faster by the sense of smell, these days. What is there to elaborate then regarding the wonderful spices shipped all the way from the land of my birth, India. 

 

Patience is practiced in an unhurried way when sorting and folding clothes. No deadlines to hasten the act of sweeping the floors and those trick dusty corners are cleaned with a rare smile on my face. When so called incidents not accidents happen, I find myself no longer angry or frustrated. I engage in conversations with myself where I resort to Kabbalah lessons learned from my Rabbi, years ago. “An overflowing washing machine ? No problem. Apply ‘Certainty’ and tell yourself that you will find a solution. It works. Bumped your head and hurt yourself? Well, what was the last thought you had before this happened? Bet you were angry or frustrated about something. Indeed so true, there I go again!”  

 

Owning a house means constant upkeeping and fixing. I discovered during this extraordinary period of isolation that I do have skills to come up with short cuts and ingenious ways to solve minor fixer ups in the building and in the yard. I have never before accessed the tool box like I am doing these days. Listening to Celtic Fiddle Festival on Pandora, I found, increased the speed and efficiency in washing dishes and cleaning floors. Each time the cell phone goes “ ping ” I no longer rush to look who or what it is. So no interruptions in whatever it is I am engaged in. Sounds from the flame rising in the stove, the nuances in the breezes at different times of the day, my footsteps in the house as varied from those when I step outside, the ticking of the clock, the keyboard variations on my pc, all contribute to creating a variety of sounds that convey messages onto the matrix of a silent mind.

 

Being a minimalist, I have always bought only when I really needed something, or when an occasion to a ‘giving” is called for. No careless, fun shopping ever. I tend to discard or donate what I no longer need or use. I thought I had reached a plateau in this behavior until this period. Now strangely I find that I am continuing this pattern to a much greater degree. The clean and organized closets, kitchen and even the garage have all become beneficiaries of this time.

 

 

The Neighborhood

 

West Petaluma is a boon for those who love to walk. Being a passionate walker, I find myself more outside the house than inside. I hardly need to use my car for basic errands. The month of May is the best time to see front yards bursting with blooms. I am amazed at how well the leaves of a plant matches the flower it bears. The color and shape of the leaf highlights the tones of the flower. It is worth stopping to admire the intricate colors and designs revealed in many an opened flower. Often I have found rare plants growing in this section of the city, plants that you do not normally see in Northern California. I figured behind each bush of this kind, is a determined gardener, who has spent much money, time and energy in caring for these. Unusual sights greet me when I walk slower and take the trouble to observe the trees lining the streets. It would do only good if the city folks on English street could fix the treacherous sidewalks, for then one can spend less time looking ahead and down while walking. 

 

On D street there are two cassia trees side by side. About five feet up the main trunk I see healthy pyracantha growing, obviously from seeds dropped by birds. What good hosts they are, the cassias. On 8th street I have seen a beautiful Texas Neem tree, surrounded by its offspring. Angel wing jasmine hedges so common in Southern California line the outside of a real estate office. I wonder why those large and mighty redwood trees have the smallest pinecones? 

 

It saddens me to see fruits wasted. Home gardens have trees loaded with apples, pears, persimmons and grapes. Most of them are left unpicked so they fall on the ground and rot. Why not pluck them or have someone pluck them, put them in baskets and leave them outside for passersby to help themselves. One can earn good karmic fruits for such actions ! I see sidewalks stained by dried plums stepped upon by shoes. Petaluma has more than five varieties of wild plums, that no one seems to care about. I dream of how many bottles of South Indian thokku, a kind of tasty chutney I could be making with them. My neighbors look forward to these preserves, which they use to coat barbecued meats. 

 

During these pandemic days I am seeing more and more homes placing outside their homes, not just political signs but more for social reform and encouraging strength during these trying times. Kids have begun drawing with chalk, messages calling for tolerance and justice. I see more books placed outside, sometimes in quaint libraries perched on posts or simply left in crates near the sidewalk. Few homes even have very creative homemade art objects that adorn their yards. Small groups of friends and families have set up tables outside to share a meal, a respite from staying indoors all the time. Young and amateur musicians strum away their guitars while seated in their porches, singing a variety of genre. Children fearlessly ride their bikes when they are released from distant learning sessions. Younger ones struggle hard to catch up with their older sibling in these bike races. Fathers and mothers have biking teams that they lead. Streets that are blocked to through traffic often have makeshift jumps for young skateboarders. Mothers are seated at either end for safety.  All these sights take me back to the works of Norman Rockwell, in whose artwork I see an America that was wholesome and simple.  

to be continued...

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Vasanti Jayaswal

EMAIL: vasanti.jayaswal@gmail.com

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