“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

—Stephen King

Watching for the birds is an act of patience.

A red-shouldered hawk flies over the shore. Chipping sparrows are at the feeder off and on. Orange slices wait the return of a pair of Baltimore orioles—they ate an entire navel orange yesterday.

I need the birds to remind me that being still—waiting and watching—is part of living.

So much beauty surrounds us here. Forsythia’s yellow limbs stretch and wave toward the cloudy sky. Twin birch trees grow their catkins and tiny chartreuse green leaves by the side of the house. Day lilies increase in number in three-year temporary beds in the fenced vegetable garden. Divided, they will brighten our new hillside and the community field.

The dining room table is still covered with fabric scraps waiting to be made into masks to wear in public. My daughter wears one I made for her. I worry that she is at risk at the grocery store—could she be exposed or bring COVID to us on the food packaging?

I’m glad I’m not cooped up in a small apartment in a city. I can work in the yard, go for walks and see no one. The UPS man may deliver boxes to our front porch; I left him a recipe for sweet potatoes we make often. His wife loves sweet potatoes. This week the grocery had none, nor yellow potatoes, nor Poland diet drinks—only some vitamin water at four times the price.

I never know what will be available.

Gardens are never static, and gardening fulfills my need to be physically active. My big garden plan is to move one plant a day into it (surely the pandemic will be over before I finish moving plants?) I may work steadily for eighteen months—there will always be more to do in my garden. It is a growing thing.

I am patient.

Patricia McHold is a writer, artist, and gardener who lives in East Boothbay, Maine.