Spring Break

Witch Hazel, blooming now!

It’s still February but it is in the low 70’s in my back yard.  I sit in the warm sun, eyes closed feeling a light breeze play through my hair.  A crow caws, warning its companions of a cat or dog wandering too near. A few cars rumble by in the distance.  In my mind’s eye, I see the Zinnias, Purple Cone Flowers, Lilies, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Calendula and more I will plant in the garden at this new home, where I have never gardened before.  I’m anxious to get my hands in the dirt.  Gardening is one of my all time favorite things to do; I consider it a way of praying, of speaking to the earth, of doing what I can to help keep this beautiful blue orb we live on, spinning.

So much is happening around the world.  Revolution is rife in the Middle East and I send loving kindness to those who are in the thick of it, on all sides.  I am still trying to get my head around what the Egyptian people managed to accomplish without doing violence.  I was glued to CNN and MSNBC, and got very little else done for several days while it was happening. It still seems to me, miraculous.  Is this the beginning of the shift that so many have predicted?  I believe it is.  I also believe that it will be a very difficult time to stay grounded, to stay sane, to believe that everything we will see, despite its ugliness, may in fact make our world more beautiful than ever. I want to be a witness to it.

Next month my husband and I will join a group of 50 other people on a trip called CIVIL RIGHTS SOUTH: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE MOVEMENT,  a revolution that happened right under our noses.

We will begin the journey in Atlanta, under the guidance of Julian Bond,  past Chairman of the National Board of the NAACP and President Emeritus of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  We will travel by bus, along many of the roadways that civil rights activists took during the ‘60s to bring attention to the intolerance that prevailed in our country,  ” the land of the free.”   We’ll visit Albany, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham.  We will stop at the New Ebenezer Baptist Church, the George Washington Carver Museum,  the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, the Rosa Parks Museum, the Marchers Memorial and Interpretive Center and the National Voting Rights Museum, among others.  We will attend a concert of the original Freedom Singers and visit a gallery of primitive southern art.

Our inspiration??  Several weeks ago we had the privilege of previewing the film, Freedom Riders, which will premier on PBS’ American Experience, in May.  It is the compelling story of the college students, white and black, male and female, who boarded Greyhound and Trailways buses in 1961. They rode through the south, integrating bus stations, restrooms and restaurants on their way to New Orleans.  It is a story of heroes willing to risk death, intent on challenging those who would keep the south lily-white.

However late, we want to bear witness to what was happening while we were sleepily beginning our adult lives way up north in New England, where diversity was a word that we thought little about at the time.  And so we will leave behind our comfortable home, my lovely garden-to-be to try to understand what happened here, in our own country so we may better understand what is happening in the world we live in now.  I will try to keep copious notes while I travel to let you know what I learn.

Please visit Sacred Circle to read grandson Noah’s letter to the President.  He and his sister, Zoe, are part of the future of this country. I’m thrilled to see this young man stand up and speak for what he believes in.  No one talked him into writing his letter.  It was his own idea.

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4 Responses to Spring Break

  1. Gail says:

    Joan, you can’t imagine how close to my heart your writing is. Be sure to visit the Southern Poverty Law Center and try to meet Morris Dees. I just finished his autobiography and realize I owe part of my soul to him for the risks he took while I was enjoying being a sorority girl at Ole Miss. I am hoping to send SPLC as large a check as I can manage in tribute to the work Morris Dees and the Center did for me while I was still so unawakened. If you are reading my story on the Taos Writers site, you can take my spirit with you on your trip through the Civil Rights journey. How lucky you are to have a husband willing to go with you. You two must be true soulmates.

    My throat always clutches when I see the word “zinnias,” which my mother grew in abundance, and I now can’t replicate. Next post, I will copy my humble poem about how I could never get my zinnias to bloom, even though I had some of the dried seeds.

    I don’t understand Egypt or Bahrain either, but I am among those who think a small revolution for freedom is going to have to take place in this country. Did you see what the Republicans did last night? Do you read that a teacher in Wisconsin cannot write a blog about the rights that are being taken from them — c ollective bargaining for god’s sake. Talk about the First Amendment. These Tea Partiers do not begin to understand the Constitution they claim to be so loyal to. And our environment and wild life are in grave danger.Not to mention education, health care and so much more.

    Hooray for your grandson! I hope my granddaughter Norah will grow up to add her voice to the right course of action, that of making jobs for those whose jobs are never coming back, heating oil for those who cannot heat their homes, reproductive rights in the hands of those whose bodies are being taken over by the government. I think Norah will. Her Mother surely did. She would stand up to anybody and say things were wrong. Norah can the young people in defending “the least of these.”
    Oh, sorry, got really carried away. The news of the budget cuts (proposed) this AM just blew me away. Cheers and much loving kindness to you and Bill on your journey.

  2. jzrart says:


    Thanks so much for your comment. I’d love to read the piece you wrote on your childhood in the segregated south, but don’t know how to find you as I’m not a facebook person. I know I miss a lot, but I also know my addictive nature and I’d surely never get anything done, ever! Please send me a link or someway for me to read your words.

    We will be going to the Southern Poverty Law Center and I will look up Morris Dees if there is time. We will be moving fast, I fear, with little time to hang out. We will be attending a lecture there by the President of the organization, Richard Cohen, on Rosa Parks and The Struggle in Montgomery. I’m very excited by the trip, and yes, the dear, sweet man who is my husband, is also my soulmate.

    About the zinnias … the hottest secret in the west … buy them already started!! When I start plants from seed, I too often forget to water them, so they rarely rise out of the little peat pots I plant the seeds in.

  3. Becca says:

    What an amazing and awe inspiring trip that will be.

    There is so much chaos in the world right now. Studying and understanding the past is crucial to our future. I wish you and your fellow travelers godspeed in the journey.

  4. jzrart says:

    Thank you, Becca! Hopefully it will fill us all with insight and new understanding of where we’ve been!

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