Reflections after mugging

About a month ago, I had a really nice day. Er, well, I had a really nice day until I was assaulted by three men in an attempted robbery. I ran and I’m ok, just a couple bruises and a headache. Although, my glasses unfortunately didn’t survive. … Anyway, it was a really nice day and I took a picture of these tulips, below, in Mt. Vernon earlier that day.

I was lucky in a lot of ways, some in my control and some not.

More than anything, I think the incident speaks to the crucial value of being in shape if you can be. First, when one of them knocked against me, I kept my balance and didn’t go to the ground. It would have gone very differently if I’d gone to the ground. I remember vividly being aware (almost single-pointedly) of just “don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall”. … my takeaway is, those ballet classes and core exercises and yoga were a worthwhile investment of my time, and one I’ll continue making.

And second, I ran fast. I have no clue how I got through or what happened right before I bolted, but I bolted and didn’t look back for the next quarter mile. I rarely run because of an old injury, but I walk something like 10-15 miles a week, at a pretty brisk pace. Apparently that was enough, and I’m gonna keep that up, too.

But with that said, a lot wasn’t in my control.

I didn’t have direct control over the more-or-less reflexive things I did or didn’t do… I have very little training on how to handle fights, and somehow I made the (right) decision to run rather than lose a 3 vs 1 fight. Many people, I’m told, mess that decision up. I didn’t have any control over the fact that they didn’t have (or maybe chose not to use) any weapons. I didn’t have control over their apparent decision to stop chasing me. I didn’t have control over the location–it was a familiar street and area for me, and once I ran I had a plan within two seconds. I got lucky in all those ways.

But most importantly, I didn’t have control over bumping into three kids looking to mug passers-by. They were just out on the prowl. I’ve never had any trouble walking that particular street before, even at night… they were just there this time. There’s literally nothing I can do to eliminate the chance of random, absurd events like this happening, no matter how many street corners I avoid. In the past few days, among other emotions, I’ve honestly laughed a few times about how absurd & random the whole thing was.

We really don’t have control over much in life. I thought I’d accepted this already, but this took it to a new level. I’m sure I’ll be mulling over this new perspective on reality for a while, and I’m curious to see if I change anything about the way I live my life.

Hanami … sort of …

“In winter say the snow-bound, she shall come with the spring…”
-Kahlil Gibran

“…Why do the blossoms scatter
with such uneasy hearts?”
-Ki no Tomonori

“One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs…”
-Wallace Stevens

I’ve blogged previously about the cherry blossoms around Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin. Hanami is definitely in my Top 5 Annual Things I Look Forward To, and it’s become something of a clock for me, except that it ticks in deep time rather than by the minute. There are lots of cherry trees in Baltimore (where I now live), to be sure. I live a few blocks away from at least two small groves that I know of. I haven’t seen any as sublime or spectacular as the Tidal Basin, though.

Now that I live in Baltimore, about an hour’s train ride away, it’s more of a trip for me to go see there each year—and I usually make the effort get there. This year, though, it may not be worth the trip.

Unfortunately, this year, they started to blossom a bit early, and a seasonal frost has come along this week: snow, sleet, freezing, and basically all those wintry things that harm delicate plant parts, all literally days before the projected Peak Bloom. This year the blossom-viewing will probably not be so spectacular.

The experts say it’s not a total disaster yet, but a lot can still happen between now and the end of frost danger. I’m very sad about the whole thing. Earth is fragile systems, and this is one of my favorites.

Pictured, above & below: cherry blossoms in southwest Baltimore thawing after a mild blizzard.

But a Mast

“Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.” —Khalil Gibran

One of the side effects of working for yourself is that—much as a gardener’s activities are dependent on the weather and a retail shop’s activities vary by the volume of customers—sometimes your activities and focus need to change based on external circumstances. For example, if you get a lot of work at once, both from new client relationships that require attention in order to set good expectations and from valued long-term clients.

But that’s enough about work for now. I’m sure I’ll be writing much more in the near future about it. I’m just bringing it up now because this all happened in the past couple of weeks; as such, part two of What Lead Us Here is still under development.

Meanwhile, there have been other humble but positive developments in our small part of the world.

Two wheeled plastic trash cans sit on a small brick patio.

Some of the many spare bricks in the backyard have gone to construct a mini-patio to place our trash cans and make the back corner a little classier. We’ll see how the bricks look after a few months and some rainfall, but it seems stable so far.

Meanwhile, my housemates and neighbors are coming together to combine our backyards for raised beds and rain gardening. We recently removed a picket fence inconveniently splitting the sunniest part in half, and donated it to our local community garden. One of our mothers (God Bless Mothers!) is a landscaper, and she’s giving us quite a few native plants. Someone from a local Baltimore clean water organization is also coming by in a couple weeks to give us a rainwater assessment. I can’t speak for my housemates or neighbors, but I’m very hopeful that growing most of our own food next season is in the realm of possibility.

The root ball of a small cedar sits in a hole being watered.

The conifers are mostly gone—at this point there are only two left in the ground, just waiting for a new home. In the meantime we’re taking care of them. They’ve been mostly dug out so that the roots get used to being in a ball instead of having all the ground through which to spread, and we keep them watered so the root ball doesn’t dry out.

A branch of roses beside a brick wall.

It isn’t all gardening, of course. There’s been a lot of homemaking, shared cooking, and dreaming as we figure out how we all want to move forward, both in the backyard, in our new community, and in our own lives. I just have more photos of the garden than anything else. :) It’s also a little hard for me to capture in photos the ongoing development of domesticity and a nurturing, shared environment that supports everyone’s work and aspirations … unless screenshots of our long email chains or shared spreadsheets count.

“Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.” —Khalil Gibran

A white pillow on a curved couch in a bay window.