today, I'll wake up better

Letters #157

I’m not awake enough to understand
but will be, soon, my son, and then we’ll go
to blaze the day, to stomp each puddle left
by the rain you never notice as you pull

me into the world, all leap and bowl, all grab
and fall. Today I’ll wake up better, call
the distance order, order it to be
a smaller thing. I’ll stand to make it so.

-Dan Rosenberg, Order


Today, I had to pull up my pumpkins, their vines having seemingly overnight established a nasty case of powder mildew that I didn’t want to spread to the rest of the garden. It happened last year, too, but I wasn’t quick enough at pulling it up, trying instead a dozen food-safe methods for battling the stuff only to have it spread to the grass and other plants. This year, I just pulled it. It’s kind of disappointing, honestly, because the vines were lush and abundant and filled in a large patch of our garden that doesn’t tend to thrive, and the birds and squirrels liked to hunt for bugs and seeds under there in ways I found entrancing.

In a similar vein, the neighbourhood coyote I mentioned briefly last time has become a local pariah, with a couple of small dog “attacks” under its belt. This is extremely frustrating for me, having actually encountered the animal, because it’s extremely clear that the reason it’s behaving this way is a combination of poor treatment of its habitat and people feeding it so it’s been needlessly desensitized. Now that they’re denning, their lack of fear combined with territory protection is making them “aggressive” and people want them gone, yesterday if possible. It makes me really sad.

Shortly after my last letter, I grabbed a couple of photos of the overgrown patch where the coyote has been living, including its small and inobtrusive entry point in the construction fencing:

The simple fact of the matter is that if this construction site were being cared for appropriately, they’d have likely denned safely in the ravine, where escape from people is simple. Instead, they’re forced into near-daily encounters. Hardly the animals’ fault, and yet now that they’ve been pushed into these interactions, it won’t be the people who pay the price for it.

It’s not the pumpkin’s fault it got a fungus, either. More likely than not the fault lies with me, and something I should’ve done last fall or this spring to prevent a recurrence. But now that it’s happened, it’s either pesticides that would limit the garden’s usefulness to both us and other creatures, or taking the plant away. So the plant goes, and the birds will have to go seed-hunting in the berry brambles and rosebush for a while.

Today an old friend invited R and I to a playdate with her son, and I could only respond with “I’ll have to think about it; I’m still pretty nervous.” All the caregivers involved are fully vaccinated, there are no schools or daycare settings involved in either group, both kids are comfortable with masks, and we’d be outside. All in all, it’s as safe as we can be around other Toronto kids until the kids themselves can also be vaccinated, a moment that remains hovering on the horizon but never seems to get any closer. At the same time, though, Delta continues to be a growing problem, and frankly I am in no hurry to get back to normal for normal’s sake if the calculus doesn’t work out. The thing here is: I don’t know if it works out. I do not know where there’s a pumpkin to pull in this metaphor; I’m unclear which bit needs to give to let the other parts thrive. Does the situation need to change, or do I? It’s a question I’ve been struggling with since this all started, and although I’ve so far consistently come down on the side of the situation, eventually there’s going to be a tipping point. I just don’t know where that is, yet, and I hope I am able to see it coming in time to figure out how to navigate it in a way that makes sense for all of us.