Oh, it's an amazing evening out there. Day after day of 100+ temps has driven everything to dust (except for the babied roma tomatoes and cucumbers). But tonight there is a wind, gently soughing and the stars wink in the haze.
Ranger has begged for fun after a day much alone so it was I donned the clogs for mucking about in and ignored the fact that my handkerchief linen gown would incite reports of ghosts in any youthful viewer. Ah, this is how it once was, I thought. Finery blowing in a night wind, back when it was the only time to be out in this part of the world. Siestas were a survival skill, not sloth.
I couldn't make myself run about, a belly of spaghetti and fresh made french bread making such exertions impossible. Instead, I pulled out mom's ancient lounge chair, sitting in it as she once had, feeling my years and counting them, as she must have.
The dog waits for no one, though, proferring the soft rubber disc with energetic demand. Again and again we played the game while I felt the long gown tickle my ankles. Why on earth we don't all wear such diaphanous things all day I do not know. What ease, such sweet airy freshness...
And now with great cunning or merely dumb luck the Finetune player gives me the Tallis Fantasia by Vaughan-Williams. It is just the theme for this evening's stroll in the garden of the mind, the memories blooming with the delicate touch of the tendril of thought.
I was just thinking that I need to clear the dishes away and brush up the bread crumbs. Suddenly, it was 4th grade again, and the teacher was interrupting my dissertation on the subject of the day - what chores we did at home. "I help my mom do the dishes," I'd said. "Wash - wash the dishes," she'd corrected. And in this moment, this memory, I can see the little cards - the alphabet cards that lined the wall above the long expanse of chalk board. The "A" with its upper and lower case cursive examples. The old wooden desk still with its hole for the inkwell left behind long ago in the rush to better things.
I could remember the smell of the filmstrips warming up in the lamp of the projector. Any day one had a film was a good one in school because it meant the lights would be low and they would get out the long poles to pull the blinds down on the very tall windows. I can recall this familiar "Duck and Cover" film and being told to get into the cloak room - yes, it was still called a cloak room. The wrought iron hooks for coat and hat seemed frightening in that darkness.
But that was a long time ago and the Chicago schools are...well, age hasn't been kind to them either, I imagine.
I find it mildly amusing that those cautionary statements couldn't even be presented today without qualifiers, counselors, and rebuttals. And this is why we are in this position, once again looking for blinding lights and sheltering in place. It took so little, really. The educational system and a few decades. Those two things were enough to bring about a stagnation of intellect so stunning that it is no wonder Truth and Fact have become repulsive concepts. They leave no room for feelings or beliefs, all sharp edges to carve thought into a soft mind.
And now, those children are growing and raising their own, addled creatures who can hardly hold a conversation - stringing sentences together and dropping entire sequences of thought and language to connect them. I met one today, a young man already well entrenched in his vapid feel-good pattern. It was almost as though it was a bairn, walking and talking. It had that much cognition and attention span.
I am not the kind to pray. I reckon if God is there, He's awfully damned busy as is. But I do hasten one on the winds - part this nation if it must be but give a piece of it that freedom, that independence, and a will to succeed. Give me a place to live among people who feel the same. Take back the whole of "progress" if this is what it renders. I'd take an oil lamp and quill over this electronic wonder if it could mean real freedom.
And yet- my fear is great that my prayer will be answered on a great wind of its own. A wind that will scour this land and leave it sere for an age. God's own reboot.
But it's nightshift with a warm wind and the stars still flicker above. It's a comfort, rare. And one I will not let pass unnoticed.