The other day, I was making a cup of afternoon tea. That has become a habit since I’ve been staying at home. I’ve pulled out the fancy loose-leaf teas only to find most are years old and taste either bland or spoiled—into the compost they go. So, yesterday was just a plain old orange spice teabag.
Anyway, the kettle whistled, I filled my mug, set the kettle right back down on the still-hot burner, and turned away to return to the dining room. When the kettle inevitably started whistling again, I couldn’t believe how annoyed I was. Not at myself, for putting it back on a hot burner, but at the kettle.
It’s easier to be angry at external objects than it is at ourselves for the actions we’ve taken. And by “we” I mean “I.”
I went walking (interspersed with some lackadaisical running) the last two mornings in a row, and both times I walked past these two signs:
The first time I saw them, I found them heartening and reassuring. The second time, though, I thought, “Well, there’s a meaningless platitude,” which I think is probably unfair and that the person who put them up meant them sincerely. Are we not alone, though, in some way? Is it something we’re talking ourselves in order to convince ourselves that being by ourselves in our homes, we’re still part of a collective experience with a sense of belonging?
And are you expecting me to go full-on Carrie Bradshaw here and write, “I couldn’t help but wonder, am I the one giving up?” But let’s not go full-on Carrie.
This past weekend, I mowed the lawn. (Does this seem like a random collection of anecdotes? Probably because it is. I don’t know whether there’s a thread tying them together other than the fact that I’m writing them now.) It was the first time this season that the grass needed cutting, although if I’m honest, it probably needed it a week ago. In any case, I was almost done when I ran the mower across a bumpy patch of yard and boom. Baby rabbits went running everywhere. Or at least, it seemed like everywhere. In reality, there were only three; one went left, one went right, and the other just lay there turning itself over again and again. I didn’t know what to do, but my first instinct was to see if it was bleeding, so I picked it up. Probably, this is exactly what you’re not supposed to do with a wild animal, but my instincts are frequently incorrect.
It was so small. My gloves dwarfed it; one would have held it easily. It wasn’t bleeding; this was a relief to me, although not by much, since it was clearly in distress I couldn’t imagine. I held onto it until it seemed to calm down, and after I finished mowing the lawn, I returned it to the little hole that was lined with fur and leaves.
Later, I found the other two rabbits on opposite sides of the yard, sheltering against the fence. I left them alone. When I went out later that evening, I couldn’t find a trace of them. When I checked the rabbit in the nest, I knew I wouldn’t find it alive. If I had to guess—they’re fragile things—it probably was scared to death. That is, I scared it to death.
I don’t know what this has to do with getting angry at a tea kettle or overthinking random neighborhood signs, but three anecdotes seems like a good place to stop, but not give up.