Sometimes it might seem we’ll be okay after all.

“… some little part of me prays that we can hold on to the beauty and love in the world before it’s all vanished …”

July Morning, 2020

The Scarborough Marsh at six o’clock this morning, our daily bike ride’s preferred time, is peace incarnate. Yesterday’s thunderstorms cleared the air, and now the delicate scent of beach roses envelopes us. Half the sky is bathed in dark clouds, the sun framing them from behind like perfect paintings, the other half bright, speckling the marsh water glittering gold. A massing of egrets umbrella us with white feathers. The chipmunks my New England granddaughter likes to compare to her California cousin — always going somewhere — scurry back and forth across the dirt road.

The five or six of us there every day at this time have formed a loose brother/sisterhood of camaraderie, offering greetings, words of encouragement, as we share the beauty of the morning. How can you feel so close to people you know only as passersby?

The next stretch of our bike ride, through a corridor of third-generation trees, is cool. The sun hasn’t penetrated the thick leaves, but the path is strewn with intermittent dabs of gold. Kevin, who is a mycologist, spots a cluster of dunce cap mushrooms. Their pointed caps are a murky white resting on slender stems. They are very short lived, collapsing in the heat of the day, a real find, and we pull over for photos.

Image by Byrain at Mushroom Observer.

I settle onto a boulder and gaze at glimpses of the sky through dense green foliage while he takes pictures, moments without thought of anything. The abundance of green rests and refreshes us, our bike ride a respite, a chance to ignore the outside havoc.

For an hour our world is dominated by bird songs, green grass spiked with yellow, pink, orange, and blue wildflowers, marsh waters interrupted by ducks and egrets, red-winged blackbirds protecting their nests from us, possibly dangerous intruders. But of course the day lies ahead with other things that must be done.

Twenty miles later and we’re back in the car, bikes securely attached. Kevin turns on the radio and we are assaulted: the latest surge of the virus, clashes over compliance, experts maligned while the president spouts nonsense, lies and hate, hate, hate. Atheist though I am, some little part of me prays that we can hold on to the beauty and love in the world before it’s all vanished. But this morning’s bike ride already feels like a part of the long-ago past.


Michelle Cacho-Negrete is the author of Stealing: Life in America. She has more than eighty published pieces, some of which have won awards such as inclusion in the Best of the Net series and the Hope Award for Non-Fiction. She was also a runner-up in the Brooklyn Literary Arts Contest.


Featured image: Scarborough Marsh. Photo by AlanBuncher.