Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day Ten

Sun-sun. That’s what greeted me this morning when I opened the drapes to see the mountain outside accept the full radiance bestowed upon her. Throughout all the weather our island throws at her, Kalalea stands. Full sun. Overcast sky. The shroud of rain. Kalalea is my first greeting as I open the drapes to the day. Before feeding Lulu, before filling the teapot with water, I greet Kalalea.

Lulu and Kalalea
Lulu and Kalalea. (Not taken today.)

I’ve started a new book, although I’ve had it for eight years. A friend reminded me that now is a good time to crack open all those books in my to-read pile, which, in my case, is a to-read bookcase. The book is The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston, first published in 1928, and already I am in love. Books have a way of doing that to me. And I’ve only read the foreword, written by Robert Finch in 2013.

In it, Finch writes of the book’s success, “The importance and lasting appeal of The Outermost House, I believe, is its power to remind us how much, in our computer age, we still rely on the earth’s deep, constant rhythms, its basic integrity and equanimity. We continue to count on the safe and stable context that it provides, even as we tamper with and begin to rupture its basic systems. It allows us our freedom, to perform our daring and reckless feats of enterprise, growth, and exploitation. Yet for all our obsession with freedom, we want it as children want it and need it—within safe bounds. We want to know that, no matter how far out we walk, or how fast we race around the globe, the earth will be there to catch us if we slip and stumble, to lift us back from the brink of doom. The recurring cycles of the year, rooted in “the pilgrimages of the sun,” are not simply entertaining phenomena, to be noted at our convenience and for our own short-lived enthusiasms. It is for this that we need to know that insects will hibernate, that turtles ands warblers will migrate and return, that the tide will retreat, the ice let go, the earth tilt back toward the sun, and the grass reawaken.”

Good morning, Kalalea, I say to the mountain to our west and in the writing of these passages, Lulu has greeted the sun on the lanai, as it crests over the rise from our east.

During our mandated stay-at-home orders, we Kauaians are allowed to move about the island to exercise—hike, walk, swim, surf, paddle—as long as we maintain six feet of distance. Exercise, we are told, is good for us. So, too, is spending time in and with nature. Sometimes, the two can be combined, boosting both our physical and mental health. With schools closed and parents at home, I see more kids and families on our neighborhood walk-about. We wave to each other from a safe distance. My writer friend Anne in California says she sees more people on narrow hiking trails, people trying to get out, find some comfort.

I keep asking in these pages what could my ancestors have possibly done with themselves during the 1918 Influenza, and it dawns on me now like a brick falling to the ground with a thunk: They worked. I come from a long line of farmers. During the 1918 Influenza, my people did what they always did. They plowed fields. They harvested corn and beans and tomatoes and canned it all. They collected chicken eggs. They fished. They hunted.

And you know what: That’s what people are doing now. I have friends on Facebook requesting compost for their new raised garden beds. Some baking bread. Others getting chickens. (In fact, the New York Times wrote about the run on chickens here.)

Virsues will come. Viruses will go. Nature carries on. Nature is our lifeline. There’s a white-rumped shama nest in the kokiʻo ʻula, gardenia outside my home office window.

Out statewide tally jumped to 204 cases, including six people in intensive care and two on ventilators. Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green estimates the peak in the number of cases is still to come–about three weeks away. Kauai’s cases holds at 12.

Be well.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Lizabeth says:

    I just bought this book today for $1.99! I almost didnʻt buy it but I did it on impulse, and now I am so glad I did!


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Love it! That sale is the reason I finally started reading. I was like, “That book looks familiar!”


  2. Anne C. says:

    Lovely meditation. The importance of work, and understanding that life (which we’re part of, after all–as, I suppose, is the virus) keeps on doing its thing. (And Lulu!)


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      I foresee Lulu making quite a few appearances in these pages.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Connie Bishop says:

    Dear Kim,

    I totally agree that nature and wildlife continue while we are in a time of uncertainty and safer-at-home mandate.

    I have a retention pond behind my house, the main reason I chose this house. The birds continue to come and cool down in the water and to search for food along the banks.

    While on our walk yesterday, Jack, Hank and I witnessed our Sand Hill Crane family and their two new babies! What a delightful sight to see. These baby chicks are so cute! Covered with yellowish down and about 12 inches tall. Momma and Daddy surround them to keep them safe when walking to the pond and while near the pond.

    Nature is truly a Blessing!

    Love and hugs,


    On Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 2:58 AM Kim Steutermann Rogers wrote:

    > Kim Steutermann Rogers posted: “Sun-sun. That’s what greeted me this > morning when I opened the drapes to see the mountain outside accept the > full radiance bestowed upon her. Throughout all the weather our island > throws at her, Kalalea stands. Full sun. Overcast sky. The shroud of rain. > ” >


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Sand hill cranes babies! What a special treat. Good call on choosing a house with a pond;-)


  4. diane tilley says:

    again this is wonderful. i am sending it some of my friends who also love Kauai and I know they will appreciate it. I am reconnecting with my beautiful nature here on the lake after not seeing spring here for 22 years. I forgot to get the link for Louise’s Midway talk.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      Diane, click back to my Day Five update. I included Louise’s talk on the post. Happy watching!


  5. Dana says:

    Loved it.


    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:



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