Tuesday, September 15, 2020

a moment in the day: waking up

The alarm is going off. Chiming bells. I reach for the phone and make it go quiet. Shift away from the dog pressed against me under the covers, crawl gently over him to step out of bed.

The scratch in my throat reminds me where I am in place and time.

Check the online evacuation maps. Still in the clear for now. Check the air index on various sites where the numbers are all different but all labeled "hazardous."

I open the back of my little upright air conditioner and take the filter out. Take it with me into the kitchen where a huge pot on the stove sits half full of water and herbes de Provence. I turn the stove on to start it simmering. To be honest, I have no idea if this thing is helping, but at least the house takes on an herby scent over the stink of wildfire smoke.

Using an old toothbrush to clean the soot from the air conditioner filter, it occurs to me that my lungs probably look like those of a nineteenth century chimney sweep.

We're closing in on a week of this.

Through the kitchen window, the sky is a low, thick, unfathomable gray. A bit of dream comes to me. Yes. I dreamed I saw blue sky.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

a moment in the day: after the party

The little Zoom squares on our screen, with happy faces and waving hands, blink out, one by one. I hit the button to exit. On the dining room table around Stephen's laptop are cake plates and champagne glasses. The lottery tickets our hosts sent over in advance in a "do not open" sealed envelope: prizes for the anniversary bingo game that they carefully crafted so that everyone at the party would win.

As at the end of every Zoom gathering, I'm surprised by how quiet it suddenly is. Stephen starts clearing the plates away as I get up to take Nicholas out. Past the blown-up balloons and the hanging garland of paper stars. The plastic noise-makers. Thinking about our clever hosts and all that went into bringing such a large group of people together for an hour or so of laughter and nostalgia and, a weird thing these days, joy. 

Nicholas follows me through the kitchen, down the back stairs, through the door and into the yard.

The night sky is that strange washed-out apricot.

The world is still on fire.