DREAD ON A FINE
“You mean ‘unbelievable’ as in how the Republicans are undermining democracy?” I said.
“No, Phoebe,” the opossum replied. “ ‘Unbelievable’ as in Really Nice Weather. You know, the environment, the outdoors, this very backyard. Here it is October - LATE October – and it’s like spring, or maybe late August, early September. The lawns still are emerald green, the temperatures are balmy. The crickets are cricketing, birds chirping. It’s wonderful.”
“I don’t see how you can be sappy about something like the weather,” I growled. “For one thing, it’s simply a function of global warming. It should be cold, First Frost chilly; rainy days growing shorter, darker, winter on its way. Global warming only makes it seem ‘nice,’”
“And you don’t care we’re getting a couple of extra weeks of mild temperatures, when it’s a joy, not a struggle, to be outdoors?” Mr. O shot back.
“This is no time to be wallowing in wonderfulness," I said. "The Republicans aren’t rejoicing in an extra-innings Autumn. They’re busy undermining fair elections, literally killing people – including their own – by discouraging Covid vaccinations and declaring war on face masks.”
“The roses are long gone,” I noted.
“A figure of speech, my too-literal friend,” Mr. O said. “Smelling-the-roses means that we should take time to appreciate the wonders of our lives. And we have great lives here in Rhode Island. People come from thousands of miles to walk through Newport’s Robber Baron mansions, to hike the Cliff Walk (for free), consume carbohydrates on Providence’s Federal Hill, sign on for schooner cruises on Narragansett Bay."
“What about the Republicans?” I said. “And Trump? The murderous governors of Florida and Texas? The ‘citizens’ menacing school board meetings? Steve Bannon sneering at Congressional investigators trying to get to the core of Jan. 6 insurrection? Red State legislatures twisting election laws?
Clearly annoyed by now, Mr O shot back: “What does any of that have to do with being able to enjoy a nice day in New England? Just because we live in a blue state doesn’t mean that we have to always be in a bad – should I say blue – mood.”
“ ‘Seemed’ is the operative word,” I said. “The snapshots don’t show what I was feeling, what I was thinking, whether I was sleeping at night.”
“If I had a chance to go to an opossum-friendly place,” Mr. O said, “I wouldn’t grouse about it.”
“At least up to a point, Phoebe,” Mr. O said, “everything you are saying is on the mark. But we can’t let all of that rob us of enjoying good weather and the other things that are so precious to our lives. That’s just giving way, way too much of ourselves to the Dark Forces.”
“Maybe you’re right," I said. "But I just can’t help it. I live in a constant, unyielding, never-ending cloud of dread. Dread of what’s already happened; dread of the present; dread mostly of what’s to come.”
Mr. O hopped down from his favorite perch atop a fence post, and he strolled around the backyard, taking in the soft summer-like air, the warmth of the late afternoon sunlight. The thermometer read 66.
What was he looking for?