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  • Writer's picturestephanieraffelock

Monday Morning Churning

The rains came yesterday afternoon. Thunder, lightening, the drama pressing itself against the windows. I read while I stroked the dog’s head. Pulled a throw over my legs and waist, tucked into the couch, tucked into myself, and the delicious imagining of everything being washed clean and made beautiful and whole. But by this morning, the news was back, none of it good, reminding me that so much of our world is broken.

Have things always been this dire? Is this just the state of the human condition struggling and suffering to become more human? Or more humane? We’ve survived world wars and the dark ages, plagues and pandemics. Surely we’ll survive these times too. Cups of rich black tea and reading the headlines wakes me up enough to leash up Mickey and head out for our three miles.

Mist rises up from Lake Austin. Sunshine tries to break through the silver grey. The air is cooler because of the rain, and that’s something to be grateful for. This summer, we somehow got the Pacific Northwest’s weather and they got the Texas weather. It’s not just humans struggling, even the weather is redefining and reinventing itself. All along my walk, the neighborhood comes alive. Little kids are fastened into car seats and whisked away to kindergarten. Sullen teens gathering at the corner, their attention fixed on phones. Backpacks carry hope and the weight of insecurity. Mickey pulls on his leash, wanting to go stand in their midst – would he make them look away from their phones?

Monday is awash in new beginnings, the weekend having provided periods of rest, along with my husband’s laughter and quirky sense of humor. Our world feels very small again. Just the two of us and a dog -- neighbors we can wave to. Back to groceries being delivered or picked up curbside. Back to wearing a mask in public, except to walk. Texas has a batshit crazy governor who couldn’t lead us out of a paper bag, let alone protect us from Covid’s new Delta strain. He doubles down daily about no mask mandates, and the science be dammed. Well, all of us be dammed, really. If I pretend there is no pandemic here, then maybe it will all just go away? It seems to be the question lingering nearby. And yet, those people allowed at the state capital are required to show proof of vaccine before they enter the building. How did masks up become the symbol for political preference, anyway?

Penny and her husband put in a new lawn in the spring. All the rain this summer has made it thick and lush. She waves and calls out her “how ya’ll doing,” as I go by. My neighbor, Tom has added a flag pole to his front garden. I haven’t seen him fly a flag yet. I know little snippets of life stories from the people I talk to on my walks. There’s a goodness and welcoming here, but also fear, the kind of fear that develops when common sense and kindness have evaporated like the mist on the lake. Everywhere, I know that there is some form of angst playing out behind closed doors.

The closer I get to being back home, the more notes in my head about what needs to get done this week. I stop to pick up Mickey’s poop. Dog poop on a freshly cut green lawn, made more beautiful by yesterday’s rain. This is what life feels like all of the time. There’s beauty and there’s the dog poop that needs to be picked up.



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