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Dog Days

I’m sitting in a cabin in central Wisconsin, so quiet but it could still be quieter. Travel with kids is rarely quiet, though this morning reading Harry Potter IV, listening to  Mozart, and eating pancakes came close. But now there is computerized radio (who decided to invite Van Halen on this trip?) and squabbles over Monopoly. I managed to steal some time outside for yoga, and over the past few days I’ve read maybe thirty pages of the book I brought, Footnotes in Gaza – as unlikely a lake cabin/water park vacation book as they come.

Last night the moon was above the cabin, hanging perfectly at twelve-o’clock over the peek of the roof. I wanted to jump in and swim to the raft, but there were three kids, there was ice cream to serve, teeth to be brushed, books to be read. Tomorrow night, I thought. But who knows what tonight will bring.

I breathe and feel fall coming. I breathe and feel my ovaries shift. I breathe and feel my child’s size 7 foot press against my calf. I breathe and feel the warmth of the Pinot Noir in my belly. I breathe and feel the world shifting outside this cabin – a dim knowledge of the stock market wavering, of the country’s slow process of impaling itself with greed. I breathe in one friend’s death, another’s illness.

Yesterday, at Circus World as an aerialist who looked all of 16 hung from a rope by her neck, I surveyed the crowd. Families, mainly with little children, looked up at the girl. They were clad in the American summer vacation uniform of shorts, tank tops and printed t-shirts – American flags, motorcycles, college’s names. They looked so fragile under that little tent, its pitched roof pointed toward the late summer sun on the bank of a rolling river. Each body with a heart, cells, organs floating in an internal liquid of love, hope, and faith. Floating under the August sky. Knowing that the grasshoppers will prosper in the coming weeks before disappearing, the grass will golden up, gardens will nearly burst and then give out. One day a cold snap will bring out the socks, bring in the dock on the lake, brings down the windows – first for the night and then for the day and then for months. Each so fragile, we are.

A few months back – May, I’d guess – a man I know from my town as a friendly organic farmer with a big heart and strongly held opinions, was planting his zinnias and tomatoes. Last week, he died from a cancer that was found quite late. I imagine it’s the first harvest in his adult life that Bob will miss. It would be nice to think that Bob can now taste the tomatoes and smell the basil.

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2 thoughts on “Dog Days”

  1. This speaks, so beautifully, many of the same thoughts that have been floating around in my own head lately, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing; it brought tears to my eyes.

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