Dark Times

It’s still dark outside, but the older cat yowls in the darkness, expressing some real or imaginary complaint. The dog stirs and “boops” me under the side of the covers to see if it’s time to get up. I rub her nose and eyes then “scritch” her back to see if she’ll settle back down. By now the two cats are prowling the bedroom. The sun has slept in, but I am unlikely to.

It is late November and running up to the winter solstice, our biological clocks are still expecting dawn at an earlier time. As yesterday’s dawn is passed and today’s dawn comes later, the critters (and I) become restless. Some days I can calm them down or ignore them, but my own complaints are harder to manage. It’s still dark outside, but time to get up anyway.

Darkness, however, still intrudes on my waking time. My wife and I each lost an older brother in the past year. The pandemic roars along fueled by the stupidity of the determinedly unvaccinated and unmasked who provide a breeding ground for new permutations of the virus and host for greater spread to friends, neighbors and strangers. We are somewhat housebound by our caution to avoid the teeming masses of incubating Covid-carriers, so we rely primarily on zoom calls and the internet to keep in touch with our friends and relatives.

Stupidity seems to rule our politics, where it seems that one party has decided it’s okay to burn down the country if it can be spun to make the other party look bad. Those politicians have become nothing but trolls. Right-wing vigilantes roam freely, ignoring the law.

Meanwhile, we choose to ignore the changes in our planet’s climate. Unlike the natural changes, such as solstice and equinox, these changes will lead to major life disruption. The fires, drought, catastrophic storms, various species extinctions and more are adding up, multiplying their effects and will likely reach a breaking point. Unlike Ted Cruz, we all just can’t vacation in Cancun until things get back to normal.

I suppose, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving, we’re allowed, if not required, to think of the good things we have. Loved ones, of course, top the list (even if spending so much time together in close quarters can make us grumpy), and friends and relatives we think of more than we actually see. We live in a great place with comforts and safety. 

Yesterday, we sat outside in the strange late November warmth and watched the birds at the feeders and the squirrels vying for spilled seed while keeping an eye out for the dog or a cat. The doves fluttered noisily among the branches, and the smaller birds kept away from the ravens and magpies. Herds of geese flock overhead, honking noisily. What a lovely day!

We’re healthy, if somewhat creaky, and have the ability to be mentally engaged in outside interests. (Trying to avoid politics now is impossible, but a necessity to stay sane.) It’s easy these days to focus too much on meals, but nice to have the time to make some great food. Even now, I’m strategizing what to do with the remaining leftover turkey. We’ve done the regular turkey and dressing a few times, my sister’s recipe for turkey enchiladas, turkey omelet, turkey sandwich … didn’t I plan to get a smaller turkey this year? And, the freezer is still pretty full from last summer’s garden harvest. Maybe Tetrazzini?

The sun’s up now and the critters have all meandered back to bed. Their job, to wake me and make sure the food bowls are full, is over and they’re back asleep. I have some time to myself now, and enjoy the quiet and calm. A cup of coffee, maybe some of that left-over apple pie for breakfast – life is good.

I think I can face the world now.

One thought on “Dark Times

  1. Dear Steve Tarlton – I salute you. I notice your creation of good writing. I happen to agree with your take on issues of climate change, Covid-19 vaccine-deniers, and the joys of animals and natural life. I’m sorry that you and your wife lost brothers. I’m glad you and your wife have each other in a safe and beautiful place, and that you have plenty to share with other creatures.


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