This coming Saturday, the 19th of March, we will be in this house for one year.  We mentioned this milestone to one of our neighbors the other day, and she said, “it seemed it took you forever to get here, and now it seems you’ve been here forever.”

She was right.  Those of you who accompanied us on the roller-coaster that brought us here know only too well what that “forever” was like.  And now, since neither Steve nor I can stand to live in situations that seem only temporary, it does feel like we’ve been here forever.  The house has that lived-in look.  We were quick to fill the walls with our favorite things, from pictures to shelves of art glass that we have collected over the years–old friends which, for as long as we’re both alive, belong nowhere else.  The outside is still a work in progress (as it always will be), but the dreamed-of sweep of green in the front is now a reality, the splashes of color we wanted dotting the landscape are appearing, and the incredible natural diversity of the waterfront–a diversity made visible by the work we put into clearing out the invasive wax myrtle–is an endless pleasure.  These early spring days are, in a word, delicious.  We’ve had a few 70-degree days, when the breezes are perfect and the views in every direction are stunning, and we pinch ourselves to make sure this beauty is actually our reality.

We visited our old house in Arlington a few weeks ago. The new owners are wonderful, so respectful of the work we left behind, careful to remain true to our design, while looking to put on their own stamp, as well they should.  They’ve done well by it.  The place looks beautiful, but we were both struck by how small it is.  The front and back yards combined would fit into our back yard alone here, and the house itself seemed tiny, like a dollhouse, a miniature.  Without our realizing it, our personal horizons have broadened.  As big a space as 2.5 acres is, it seems normal now.  Driving 15 miles to the grocery store, the idea of which was once daunting–even irritating–is as nothing now.  I do it nearly every day.  We do still miss the compactness of the waterways in Delaware, where we could hop in our boat and actually go somewhere, to Lewes for lunch or out to Rehoboth Bay and be joined by hoards of others enjoying the water just like us, but the wilderness of the upper reaches of the Little River here, with its countless osprey nests, its wildlife sightings, and the seasonal changes in the landscape, more than compensates.

And yet there is more on my mind these days than mere rhapsody.  Life in all of its chaos is upon us.  Even as I revel in my own surroundings, horror, both man-made and natural, dominates the news.  Events in the Middle East started out with such hope.  Hope still exists, but at the same time Libya reminds us of the cruelty humans can visit upon each other.  As I write, parts of Japan seem to be at a previously unimagined precipice, a possible nuclear holocaust even worse than the bombs we dropped on them 65 years ago.  In our own country, events in Wisconsin and Michigan are distressing, and our national congress–the people we elected to represent our interests–are forever mired in grandstanding, constant electioineering, tossing red meat to “the base,” interested, it seems, only in their own short-term survival as politicians instead of the welfare of the nation.  We long for the “good old days,” as if they ever existed…..

Like Candide, I cultivate on my own garden.  If I can create beauty for myself perhaps my example will influence others.  It’s all I can do;  I am otherwise powerless over the Qaddafis of the world, the earthquakes, the nuclear meltdowns, the craven ignorance of the powerful.  Beauty and its opposite have always existed simultaneously.  “How can this be?” is a useless question–it just is.  The best we can do is make our own sense of the senseless.