FaceTiming with Janet and Morgan starts another day. Morgan again offers us ice cream from her plastic parlor. No better kind across the miles. A pair of panda pajamas, including an eared hood, on the little girl. Big girl and little girl grin at us through the miles. We laugh.
Then there’s a fox.
That’s here. We’ve been seeing foxes lately, running across our patio and up the hill toward the plateau. Chasing away squirrels and birds who gather under our birdfeeders. I’m sure the fox doesn’t want to actually chase them. They should stand still for his pleasure, but they have other ideas. And they are fast.
So far, we haven’t seen any breakfasts get caught, but this morning, the fox hangs around long enough for us to show Janet and Morgan.
“See, Morgan, see? He’s by that tree. Turning his head.”
Looking around and looking around. Beautiful creature with thick, orange fur. You almost want to pet him, but, after all, he is a fox. With teeth.
He poses for us for a few minutes, then treks back through the forsythia until we can’t see him. Healthy-looking guy. Glad our cat stays indoors. He would, now, regardless.
But the fox leaves, we finish talking to the big girl and the little girl so they can have breakfast. We move on to perusing the newspaper, at least as much as we can bear, check email.
“Your old boyfriend has a birthday today,” John tells me. FaceBook.
I never knew about that birthday. Didn’t know the guy long enough, but I find myself thinking of him, guessing his age, and wondering about the intervening years. Is he all right? At least he’s got a birthday.
“Walk?” I ask. “It’s going to rain later.”
First, give the cat his shot—he’s diabetic—and then depart to walk through the neighborhood.
Descending from our driveway, we encounter one of the plateau’s inhabitants with her children. Stroller, scooter, and the third child just joyfully running. All of them look joyful, in fact. Well, maybe the mom looks tired. The baby looks pensive. A lot to take in.
John and I take the opposite side of the street—germs!—but say hello. It’s no joke pushing that stroller up the hill, but that’s where they live.
“Happy children,” I comment.
“That’s why we’re outside,” says the mom—push-push! “They’re not happy inside.”
While she’s firming up her biceps and lung capacity. And will need a cup of tea when she gets up there. Later, they’ll have to go outside again to be happy, but that’s later.
They go up, we go down, round the corner and stop at the school parking lot where the informational sign tells us of an upcoming talent show. Or would be upcoming, that was the intention, except the date passed after the building was shut down, and nobody changed the sign. Who would do that? All that talent and no show! Later, gator!
Three cars grace the lot. No people, but they are probably already in the adjacent nature center.
“Not as many as in the last few days,” I comment.
“It’s earlier,” says John. “Plus it’s not so nice out.”
Not that the weather kept us inside, or that family we passed, either, although we’re getting the walk in while we can. It’s supposed to rain a lot in the next few days, and it just seems a good idea to be out in the fresh air at least a little bit every day no matter what’s coming out of the sky. At least it’s not Dr. Seuss’s Oobleck, that green gunk.
I may go out in the rain, anyway, later in the week. We have umbrellas, and probably, we both could survive a drenching if we are too proud to carry them. We’ll see how we feel then.
John waits for my up-down-up-down on the concrete steps. I feel a little bad, making him wait in the cool air. Even he is wearing a winter hat today, so it isn’t just me feeling the cold, and standing still in it probably isn’t so great for him. Gloves and hats for both of us. But up-down-up-down. Gotta do my steps even if he can’t do his after a wrecked quadriceps tendon slowed him down years ago.
We walk on and pass over the culvert by the nature center. Fresh mud tells us that it rained hard enough in the last day for the creek to rise over the banks. Sometimes, the road floods, too, and barricades are erected against this. Sometimes, people just drive through the water. Sometimes, sometimes.
Sometimes, it’s so muddy on this overpass that I take my life in my hands and walk on the road instead. Time the interval between spurts of cars. Jog or walk fast for those few feet and then get right back onto that sidewalk. Phew!
So much traffic. It never ceases.
Lately, you can look in either direction and not see a single car. Still good to be careful, I guess. You could forget. Cars? What are cars?
But we don’t walk in the street this morning. Could have. Could have done handsprings and played hopscotch or just pretended to swim breaststroke over the blacktop. So quiet out here.
Then we cross to the other side, still looking both ways because that’s the habit, and cars do come. The habit hasn’t been rendered foolish. A car here, a car there. Where’s anyone going?
And back around Obsession Gulch. Not that I see obsessed people or yards that make me think that’s really who lives here. We go on.
“We haven’t seen the goose lawn ornaments for a while.”
“I don’t remember if they were here or not the last time.”
Big creatures. And they weren’t always in the same places. Somebody had fun changing things up. We had fun observing the movement. Close your eyes, and the geese run until you open them—freeze!
When we get to that yard, the geese aren’t there. Of course, we don’t know if the same people are even living here. All we ever knew about them were their geese. No geese.
Going on and on.
“Look at the daffodils.”
“Look at the flowering bush.”
We pass houses where people we used to know lived. Do they still?
Birds sing, squirrels run as if there is nothing different in the world. Normalcy among the wildlife. Or is it? Do the birds wonder why so many people wander through their terrain lately?
We talk. We muse.
“That money we might be getting from the senate bill,” I say, “we should help someone with it. If we get it. If they pass that.”
And we talk about the waitresses we know at a local place. But how will we find them? Maybe there’s a way.
First, let’s see if there is that money. We could help, anyway, of course . . .
“You know,” I say, gesturing to the sky, “the worst part isn’t the lock-down or that we can’t see our kids or Mom or anybody. That’s bad. And it’s bad that we don’t know how long this is going to be. But the worst part is the threat. I feel like someone’s thrown a huge, gigantic snowball right at us. And the aim is good.”
What can we do?
Focusing on the hour we’re in, the half-day. Working at my desk, reading, practicing music, calling people. John finds things to do in the yard or with his music, practicing or timing scores, cooking—yay! A man who cooks! And he calls friends and family, too.
There’s plenty to do, and we’re not bored. And sometimes, I don’t remember, am not thinking about that snowball.
Not as many people out as the last few days, but there are a couple of joggers, a dog-walker. Us. The lady in the mail truck. All say hello. Wave.
As we make the last leg, we see an old friend of our daughter’s. We don’t know her any more, but we know who she is, coming back, maybe from her jog. We don’t know her, and we aren’t near enough to say hello, but I’m glad we can see her moving around, looking healthy. Next time, maybe we’ll get close enough to shout, to wave. How are things? Fine, just fine.
Up the hill we go, wishing for things and wishing for things.
At least there was that fox.