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Nurture and Nature


Monday, my phone rang more than usual here in the Kingdom of Crossed Boughs and Errors.

“Mom, are you prepared?”

“Sleep in the hall bathroom, in the tub.”

“Mom, make sure your cellphone’s charged and turned on at night.” (They know I power off around 10:00 pm.)

Laura came up several times. We talked rain, wind, flooding, blizzards, and the message of this magnum opus, its scope, and global climate change.

A couple of friends emailed to say they’d made soup, comfort food. I prepared fruit stew, Bobby Flay’s red sangria (without the simple syrup). Wanted to make sure I consumed those necessary servings of oranges, apples, and berries.

Late afternoon, I walked from the kitchen to look out my bedroom window at the giant tree that lost so much of itself last time the big winds spoke. Noticed water. Inside. Entering from the top of the window, hitting the sill, and splattering. I grabbed towels and called Laura.

“Get the plastic trashcan that holds your recyclables.” I did. Setting it on the window ledge, Laura ordered a chair. I delivered. Then, we stuffed the towels at the can’s base, pushed the chair against the can, a bench against the chair. Laura pronounced it secure, temporarily.

Time for a class of that sangria.

There’s something weird about water penetrating your haven—an intrusion, invasion. I thought of the people who endure this often with few or no resources, unable to make repairs. Not just here in the US but also those in countries violated by imperialism, their lands and homes brutalized. I thought of all the people stranded, some lives changed forever, by extreme weather, and I positioned this with images of war refugees.

I emptied that container of rainwater twice before going to bed in the guestroom, away from the noisy drip, drip, drip. Got up during the night to check it. Not much water. Glanced at the clock. The worst was predicted for Baltimore around 2:00 a.m. Looking out the window, I saw gentleness, the waltz of leaves. No break dancing. I went back to bed, and lay there, troubled by the suffering, so much suffering—from both the tempest and war storming.

I turned on the radio and listened to the closings. I’d done this Sunday night and remarked to Laura that it would have been more efficient to announce what was open.

Tuesday, the Kingdom’s maintenance crew replaced caulk along an outside projection. I am so fortunate. I had just read that a Manhattan hospital’s generator failed. So did its backup. The death toll is rising. From Maine to the Carolinas, millions of people are without electricity. And while most of the focus has been on NYC, the Caribbean Islands, areas already impoverished, were battered.

I’ve seen several articles this week about “global warming”—that the oceans have warmed, providing extra energy for storms. That the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, providing additional moisture. This is a recipe for more violent weather events.

For nature to nurture us, we must nurture it. This symbiosis is necessary for a healthy planet, peace and justice, caring for each other. Even if you’re a climate change skeptic, seems you’d say, “First, do no harm. Let’s err on the side of doing no harm.”

Gotta go. One of the children wants to talk.

Missy Beattie is busy in Baltimore.  Email:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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