Through the Cracks

By Hippo (a hippopotamus) and Al (a bird)

Tiny green shoots, orchids, and other wildflowers rising from the burned and blackened ground; new growth emerging from the charred trunks of trees; pink, yellow and green peeping out from tiny cracks and crevices – this is life – life bursting forth after the devastating fires in the Australian bush.

Bottom-feeding, toothless, soft-mouthed whitefish in the Great Lakes, starving because invasive and incredibly sharp-shelled zebra and quagga mussels have blanketed the lake bottoms, now eat and digest the very animals causing their decline. This is life – life creating a way.

Even that one pesky dandelion growing toward the sun between the cracks of the sidewalk – this is life – life finding its way through the cracks.

Dr. Ian Malcolm (from the movie Jurassic Park): If there’s one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh, well, there it is. . .

Henry Wu: You’re implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will… breed?

Dr. Ian Malcolm: No. I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.

“Wow!” said Al. Life is exuberant!

Al and I are not sure who or what COVID-19 is, but he/she/it is apparently threatening the survival of humans. In the last few days and weeks, we have witnessed humans imitating the ways of the wildflowers, dandelions, and whitefish – finding ingenious ways to overcome adversity and burst forth through the cracks and crannies. Humans need connection, yet they have been forced to isolate and quarantine, to stay six feet away from other humans – no hugs, no handshakes, no gatherings.

Yet the human spirit has emerged. Videos have circulated showing quarantined people in Wuhan, China shouting “Wuhan jiayou!” (“Stay strong, Wuhan” or “Don’t give up!”). Back and forth, around the block, they call to each other with encouragement while others cheer in the background.  

Forced to cancel their planned wedding, Reilly Jennings and Amanda Wheeler got married Friday in a New York City street with their friend Matt Wilson performing the ceremony from his fourth floor apartment.

Nothing can surpass some of the books we have read – or so we thought! And then we found the lusty Italians on youtube who began serenading each other from balconies and rooftops several weeks ago. We found music! The entire world is now becoming a concert hall with people singing their hearts out to support one another.  

“It’s every bit as good as the stories,” said Al.

“Hmm,” I paused with a new realization. “Al, music is a story, even without the words!

“You’re right, Hippo!” said Al. “There’s this one bit I heard by John Williams where I just knew a crocodile was lurking under the water and about to pounce. I started screeching before I realized there was no croc at all.”

We haven’t heard anyone singing in our neighborhood, but people are encouraged to display drawings, photos, and signs in the windows. It’s a neighborhood art gallery. People walk by, or ride their bikes, and they wave to us.

Abbie Miller of Stories Framed Photography came around and took family portraits from her car.

“Stories again,” said Al.

Life finds a way. It finds the sunlight and the rain. It squeezes through the tiny cracks and invisible holes. It creates and improvises and never gives up.

Life is kind of like a bunch of Italians making music together on their balconies.