MARTHA SEZ: ‘This will be the summer my flower beds will flourish’

What a way to begin the new year. Political insanity and inanities ride the airwaves, while new, improved (from the virus’ point of view) strains of COVID kill, bereave, sicken, terrify and inconvenience the world’s population.

I suppose those of us who are merely inconvenienced should feel fortunate, but some, fed up with mask wearing and bridling at stay-at-home restrictions, throw caution to the winds and party down, like Nero while Rome burned, thus incurring the wrath of sober and responsible fellow citizens. While there is some hopefulness, the general mood greeting Baby New Year 2021 is grumpy, to put it mildly.

President Donald Trump has been compared to Nero, the Roman emperor said to have fiddled while Rome burned, because of the president’s dismissive attitude toward the pandemic that has been gathering steam for the last year.

To be fair, though, the comparison is inaccurate, even though strangely enough the president did retweet a meme of himself playing the violin. Unlike President Bill Clinton, who performed “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone on the “Arsenio Hall Show” in 1992, President Trump is no musician. He can’t even play the violin! And anyway, the fiddle was not invented back in 64 AD during Nero’s reign. Nero played the lyre.

About the protest rally planned for Jan. 6: As I write this, I do not know what you, the reader, will already know when the paper comes out. There are reports that the Proud Boys, an all-male, neo-fascist group prone to acts of violence, and others similarly prompted by conscience to protest the results of the recent presidential election, will be standing by and perhaps wreaking havoc in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, the day both houses of Congress meet to formally count and accept the votes cast by the Electoral College.

President Trump, who is unwilling to accept the results of the election, which he lost, has announced that this “StopTheSteal” protest rally he is promoting “will be wild.”

All of this discord surrounding the election will be resolved and over, I hope, by the time of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Year of the Ox, which begins Feb. 12. These events will be remembered as belonging to the Year of the Rat 2020. It will be good to see the Rat slink off along the wall and disappear around a dark corner into obscurity, as the Ox comes plodding into view. At least you know where you stand with the Ox.

Now that Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s are over and we don’t have the holidays to sustain us, we find ourselves in the bleak Adirondack midwinter without the pre-COVID parties or the presents and little twinkly lights. Yes, the days are getting longer, but not so as you’d notice. With remote learning, the school children don’t even get snow days!

Still, winter has its beauties. It’s just that it’s too dark, and it goes on too long. Luckily, my sister sent me a small, easy-to-set-up greenhouse, complete with seed-starting materials, and at this time of year I am flooded with full-color seed catalogs whose photographs inspire me with delirious false hope. This spring I will finally succeed in growing sweet peas! This will be the summer my flower beds will flourish like Christopher Lloyd’s English gardens, like the profligate plantings in the Annie’s Annuals and Perennials catalog!

A Gen X person was explaining some of the differences between the generations to me the other day. Baby Boomers–like me–are reckless, not afraid of anything, he said, which worries the following generation, Gen X, making them cautious. The Millennials, constantly accused of spreading the novel coronavirus with their youthful socializing, are actually crushed by student debt and indecision, hardly the carefree butterflies they are cracked up to be.

While I don’t believe we are fearless–after all, we are COVID’s favorite targets–we Baby Boomers have been expecting the world to blow up since the Fifties, when we could be found on any given school day crawling under our desks at the familiar sound of an air-raid siren. We had to ask ourselves, how sturdy are these desks, anyway? With time, some of the sharp edges are bound to have worn off. We may be a little desensitized.

It is a pretty crazy world, for all of us. So go figure, Baby New Year. It’s a rough start for a young year, but maybe things will get better as you go along.

Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the News for more than 20 years.)