may minutes.

May 11, 2020
lilacs and fennel tops | reading my tea leaves

Time and its passing have become even more strange and amorphous than they are in the best of circumstances. It was only just the middle of winter and somehow we find ourselves nearly to the middle of May. I have a brand-new baby who smiles up at me. Her toes are stretching the feet of some of her pajamas and others no longer snap. My older kids have had their first pink noses of the season. They’re asking for sandals to catch up with their growing feet.

The trees outside our apartment window have leaves now of a middling size and with their arrival, the light in our apartment has started to take on the greenish hue of spring and summer. In the morning, sunlight pierces our pillowcases.

On street corners and tucked into postage-stamp yards the cherry blossoms have finished and lilacs are in their full glory. There’s wisteria taking over the banisters on neighbors’ stoops—unruly jumbles of pale green and light purple with an intoxicating scent that hits you only after you’ve already passed it. Red buds are starting to shed their bright purple petals, casting them in circles on the street. They’re a welcome distraction from the nitrile gloves that litter the Brooklyn sidewalks.

James waits in socially distanced lines at the farmers’ market so we can eat like a family of rabbits, ecstatic over butter lettuces and tiny shoots of arugula. We’ve become hoarders of tender greens.

In other Mays, I’ve photographed and written about the process of making rhubarb syrup and cobbler and spritzers with lilac. I’ve fussed with photographing noncompliant floral ice cubes and cooed over keeping lilac stems fresh.

Now, there’s hardly the time to drink a cup of coffee before it cools. My inbox has run amok. Minutes are fractured by a dozen competing demands. Work takes double the time to complete and ends up making half the amount of sense.

Still, against terrible odds there are tiny triumphs and miraculous minutes. There are texts reporting a move out of intensive care and a path to recovery. There are bright red stalks of inedible rhubarb turned into a jar of perfectly tart jam.

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  • Reply Millie May 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Yes to all of this. Lovely and very, very relatable.

  • Reply Grace May 11, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    I live in the Bay Area, and the last few wildfire seasons brought choking smoke into our city. Those months felt apocalyptic, similar to how everything feels now. I was pregnant with my first child and wondering how I could possibly bring a baby into a world like this. What kept me afloat was finding the small moments of beauty like the ones you’re describing here. A flock of seagulls overhead, a perfect bunch of chard, a dappled creamy eggshell. I’d think to myself, “It didn’t have to be beautiful, but it is.”

  • Reply Christina May 11, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    I’m a regular reader but first time commentator – thank you for your writing and your passion. All the best for you and your family!
    (Possibly linguistic wobbly but kind regards from germany)

  • Reply Claire May 11, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you, as always, for your candor. My work feels unfocused and scrambled together, coffee cools too quickly, and I look down and remember I never got dressed. I appreciate you for all that you do.

  • Reply Marion May 11, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    You write beautifully! Thanks for the work you do and this space that you created. It’s always a pleasure to read your words.

  • Reply Sonya May 11, 2020 at 11:51 pm

    Hoping your loved one stays the course on the path to recovery. <3

  • Reply L May 12, 2020 at 12:39 am

    You articulated so well what we are all feeling. The beautiful spring blooms amidst the surreal life we now live in . The new reality in my 62 plus years on earth is feeling dangerously like we are on a steepest of precipe falling fast into a new world we must adjust to while we are crying out in grief for life as we knew it . For a small respite here I am grateful. Hugs

  • Reply Mari May 12, 2020 at 6:49 am

    Beautifully stated. We shall overcome this. It is difficult on us all but we just find the beauty in the small things. you’ve done an excellent job on portraying those moments. Much love and health.

  • Reply Samantha May 12, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Thank you, thank you as always for slowing down and pointing out the beauty for us all even among the business and chaos.

  • Reply Anne May 13, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Thank you for the read, beautiful words. Did I sense a bit of hope at the end? 🙂 Maybe it was my interpretation, but it was what I needed to see. Your blog has been a normal part of my life for almost 4 years. Finding more comfort in it now more than ever. Keep your unwavering honesty, it suits you.
    Kindly, Annie

  • Reply Britt May 13, 2020 at 8:52 pm

    Loved this.

  • Reply Laurie L May 17, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Please let us know how you made your rhubarb jam. Thx

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 18, 2020 at 7:48 am

      I don’t follow a recipe–just 2/3 cup of sugar melted down with a big bunch of rhubarb, chopped into 1 cm pieces, and a squeeze of lemon. It’s not preserved, just refrigerated, and we polish it off in about a week!


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