Spring is in full bloom. Many of our Pine Street friends know this because of how often they sneeze. Each tickle in the throat, watery eyes, and tricky cough brings with it a frisson of anxiety: allergies or something worse? Each denizen calculates: did I sneeze like this last year? Is my throat always scratchy in spring? Do I have a fever?
Even our friends who have been vaccinated run through this calculation. It will be a while yet, they know, before the pandemic stress recedes into memory.
The community itself embodies this stress. Vaccination is the new masking: an opening for dissension, hesitation, anxiety, misinformation. As usual, Kassandra is staunchly in favor of each person making their own decision. Her belief that most people know what is right for them, and should be allowed time to develop their decisions, is part and parcel of her essential optimism and kindness.
She spends the beautiful spring mornings serving coffee, and the blustery afternoons out at the family farm where her life and death spiral mural is taking shape. Kassandra talks with River during these blissful hours. Their conversations cover everything from art to music to farm life to math.
River’s experience as a gender fluid teen comes gently into their talks. Kassandra listens carefully, saddened by many of the stories of misunderstanding and bullying, inspired by what seems to her to be ninja-level parenting from River’s mother and father. These two have been stalwart in supporting and loving their child through it all.
On a particularly windy afternoon, River shares the latest from remote school math class. Kassandra chases various supplies as they blow around – smaller tarps, paint containers, brushes. Without thinking too much, she asks: “What are the mathematics of spirals? Are you studying them in geometry?”
River’s answer is lost in a gust of wind, but their eyes shine with excitement. Kassandra understands that by the time she returns the next day, River will have constructed a full mathematical model of spirals.
She loves this young person so much.