tHE GENTLE, FINAL DAYS
OF SUMMER - THE DAYS
THAT BREAK OUR HEARTS
Do we get a vacation from donald Trump?
Late summer, on the New England coast, where Cat and I live.
The days of late August and early September are so beautiful, so sweet, so glorious that you wish there was some way to stop the clock, to stretch time in order to take the day in properly. Instead, the minutes rush by as if there were no such thing as time limits, minutes melting into hours and then the entire day is gone, and the one after that and after that, no matter that you take an oath every morning that today, you’ll capture all of it and never let it go.
It’s hard to put a paw on it. Is it the softness of the air? The rustle of the leaves, still green? The luminous lawns and meadows? Waves jostling the shore rocks, which rumble contentedly. And those mysterious evening concerts performed by achoir of many voices. Who’s in those choirs? Insects? Frogs? And where are they? In the bushes? The trees?
The air is so gentle. Did I say that? The air is so affable and unthreatening, not cold, not hot. Just right, even for a dog. The sky is absurdly blue. You’re saying that dogs are supposed not supposed to notice such things. Memo to Humans: We do. We care. We love the sky when it's deep blue.
“But that's all happening somewhere else," I said to Cat, turning back to the laptop.
Here in Rhode Island, it’s not yet time for the Big One, the hurricane we anticipate every year, that we worry about, plan for, the One that will rip out every beach on the south coast, and collapse the very buildings that are supposed to be safe shelters, tossing million-dollar yachts onto the rocks, the One they’ll be talking about for years and giving lectures about at the historical societies, comparing it to the ’38 Hurricane, except this One will have the advantages of the powerful, new mechanics of climate change.
But not yet. These are days of late summer. Time to roll in the grass.
Every year, we forget just how perfect these days can be, how perfect they really are.
Sometimes in the afternoons, the wind picks up, still warm, but strong and steady, so that seagulls just float, barely moving their wings, then diving at something they’ve spotted in a wave, then, with just a twitch, gaining altitude.
As if there was no such thing as gravity.
As if there were no such thing as a bad day or bad weather.
"As if there were no such thing as Donald Trump."
“I did,” Cat said. “Trump is still president, in case you’ve forgotten. In fair weather and foul."
“You are a wicked creature,” I said.
“Maybe so,” Cat said. “But you can’t hide from what’s going on, any more than Florida and the Carolinas can ignore that Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded to Category Four.”
“Just what does that mean, Category Four,” I said. "What are you, the meteorology cat?"
“Anybody who asks that is trying to avoid the matter,” Cat said. “Just like you’re trying to take a vacation from Donald Trump, and what he’s doing every day, every night, no matter the season, the time of day, the day of the week.”
“I know who the president of the United States is, Cat,” I protested. “I was just trying to write about the wonderful days of late summer….”
"Did you know that just last week," Cat said, "that Trump’s environmental outlaws were rewriting greenhouse gas rules intended to keep methane from worsening climate change, which is, by the way, making hurricanes like Dorian are more powerful, more destructive.”
“But, Cat...,” I said.
“FOCUS, PHOEBE,” Cat said, his voice rising. “How about this for a late summer reverie, straight from the Trump Torture Tower?
"In an unimaginable cruel move, even for Trump, his Toadies have rewritten the rules that allow desperately ill non-citizens to be in the United States while they get medical treatments,” Cat said. "Now they've got to go."
“Actual case: Maria Isabel Bueso just got a letter from the government – that’s our government, Phoebe – saying that she’s got 33 days to get out of the country, back to Guatemala, or they’ll deport her.
Maybe they'll let her take that motorized wheelchair that she uses, because she's paralyzed from the waist down.
“But Bueso didn't die. She’s 24,” Cat continued. “Why? Because she was part of an experimental program that developed a first-ever treatment that fights that disease. In fact, that wouldn’t have been developed if Bueso hadn’t enrolled in the trials, which needed one more patient to proceed. And it’s extending her and other people’s lives.
"In the meantime, she graduated summa cum laude from a California university – in dog terms, that means she’s been a ‘very, very good' student.""
"But now, she’s got 33 days to get ‘back’ to Guatemala, where she can’t get those weekly infusions that are keeping her alive.," he said.
“It’s possible, because the New York Times and other media outlets have being writing stories about her and others in the same situation, that the government will cancel this little bit of unfathomable depravity, while the rest of Trump’s campaign continues to destroy people under the principle that once they were somewhere else and now are here."
“And then again, maybe not, maybe they'll try to tough this one out,” Cat said. “In which case, Maria Isabel Bueso will be in Guatemala, quicker than a summer hurricane can change course.
"Once she's 'home,' she’ll start to have trouble breathing and maybe develop an infection or two, while she awaits the heart attack. That's the thing her doctors expect will kill her - a heart attack."
“So, Phoebe," Cat said, "have a nice day. Another nice late summer day."