Friday, June 24, 2016

Stemming the Tide With Lapins

Channel Islands, Pacific Ocean, Planet Earth

to Moye

I don't know about ya'll, but there's a distinct panic in the air this morning. Out here on the edge of the continent, it's a combination of the goings-on in England (how quickly new words like Brexit appear), Drumpf's latest grotesque shenanigans, the fires raging in Kern County, the rumblings about The Big One striking Los Angeles and causing widespread catastrophe, and the fact that it's nearly impossible with the 24/7 news cycle not to be aware, however inadequately, of all the world's troubles. Oh, and the irony of blogging is not lost on me.

This morning I lay in bed stemming panic about everything in general and some things in particular. I tried to be mindful of this -- the prick of tears, the roiling in the stomach, the paradox of feeling both charged and anxious and paralyzed. Sometimes it takes literal will to gain perspective, a sort of coaxing now, now, come on, come on. I thought of the tide and how it creeps up on the shore, creeps up and retreats, creeps up a tiny bit more and retreats, again and again and so on. That's what it felt like this morning, my bed a boat, the usual boat, the rocking and drifting but the tide was pushing me in not letting me out. I felt like I might be swallowed.

I remember seeing an old black and white Super-8 movie that my father took in the sixties. I was not even five years old, we were at the beach -- somewhere on Long Island -- and I had on only the bottoms of a bikini, my small, thin body brown as a nut. I was skipping into and out of the tide as it moved in and out, and I don't know if it was the combination of the silence broken only by the tick of the film advancing and my innocent joy, or the wonder that something as ephemeral as childhood could be captured forever, but I was mesmerized and moved by the intimacy of my dancing with the tide. I am struck by that memory today and by how I seem to have lost that ability to dance or, at least, the ability to do it so easily.

If you read The Writer's Almanac, you might have seen the wonderful yet freaky story of today being the anniversary of an outbreak of dancing plague or dancing mania that first appeared in Aachen, Germany in 1374. Known as St. Vitus' Dance, it spread across the European continent, and people danced for days and even months in a sort of mass hysteria to, for some, their literal deaths. Good Lord. I've known about St. Vitus Dance for many years because epileptics were sometimes diagnosed with it, but I can't help today to wonder if we're all involved in something similar. We need a visit to the Bunny Planet, my brilliant friend Moye texted me this morning, referring to a sweet book by Rosemary Wells that we read to our children when they were little. In the story, after a particularly bad day where everything is going wrong, a young rabbit girl gets a visit from the Bunny Queen.

Far beyond the moon and stars, Twenty light-years south of Mars, 
Spins the gentle Bunny Planet 
And the Bunny Queen is Janet.
"Here's the day that should have been"

and so on to the happy ending of sun-warmed summer tomato soup and love, always love.

I know this post is going on, and you're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about, but Moye sent this text to me next which we both agreed was an act of stunning synchronicity:

It is the first duty of a flagging spirit to see renewal in the latitudes of whimsy. I, for one, dream on beyond the five planets to a world without wickedness; verdant, mild, and populated by amiable lapins."
Benjamin Franklin, letter to his nephew, 1771.

 In case some of you don't know, lapin is the French word for rabbit or bunnies.

So there you go -- my willful stemming the tide of panic.

Now, now, come on, come on.


  1. I shared unmatched watermelon shoes, striped green socks and all sorts of purple and I will share your post. The hill is terribly steep and I see nothing else to stop our perilous tumble. A lovely post from one of our national treasures. Yes, you. xo

  2. Ohhhh, thank you for this! Yours is a voice of sanity and perception when there appears to be a dearth of both out and about today.


  3. Hm. When I saw the title of your post I thought you were intending to stew a rabbit.

  4. Excellent post. Thank you. I thought it may have been only me feeling this way today, as I tried to block hearing any more news. Glad, but sad, that I'm not the only one.

  5. Thank you for this Elizabeth. I have very literally been struck dumb by the idea that if Brexit passed, Trump might win too. i can't seem to put words together on the subject. There's so much swirling in my head and sometimes none of it seems real. This is a beautiful piece. It captures exactly where we are today. But with some hope, some memory of dancing with the tide.

  6. Good gracious, you can write.

  7. thank you for letting us know that we are not the only ones. beautifully told stories, here, and a mirror for the craziness that seems to possess the world, and my soul, these days. I have slept long hours this week in order to avoid reality. Or at least THAT reality. I also have that 'there now' voice and sometimes it works and sometimes not. I was daydreaming just this very day about a remote hide out.

  8. There's certainly something in the air. You're right. There was here yesterday. Sadly.

    Greetings from London.

  9. I think Ben had the right idea. I've been sad and weepy lately. The world needs more bunnies.

    We have a hare that visits us in the new house. He/she ate the beans I planted. I'm ok with that. They're so lovely, the hares I mean. They sit so still, hiding in plain sight.

  10. Thank you for this beautiful post. I saw bunnies all over the place on my hike yesterday, their bobbing white tails as they took off...


  11. Your writing is so brilliant and spot on. You always move me. And yes, bunnies make everything better. :)



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