• Melissa Westemeier

wild living

This quiet summer means I get to swim nearly every day. In order, my strokes of preference are: back stroke (my best and fastest), breast (easy), front crawl, side. It has rained just enough to cool down the pool a little. I'm a dive in and get soaked all at once kind of swimmer. None of that stepping in and cringing as the water rises to knees, then hips, then belly, then chest. I like a big refreshing wave that covers all of me at once. A pool is a sorry substitute for open water swimming, but you cannot beat the convenience of it.

Bernie has flown the coop. We have a container of earthworms left behind in the fridge, but no sight of him in days now. D is sad, I think he harbored a fantasy that Bernie would be partly domesticated, enough to fly in for a quick and cheerful greeting every day. Natural instincts are powerful forces, however. Every day G and I would feed him the morning worm and walk Bernie to the edge of the yard that is well-populated by robins. I trusted he'd figure it out, and it seems he did. We also introduced him to the raspberry patch, so there was no excuse for not surviving. Not sure where he nested, but I have a hunch it's near the raspberries. That's where I'd set up camp for easy pickings.

I imagine I'll let the rest of the earthworms crawl free in the garden unless B takes them fishing this weekend.

The cats are still irritated that we will not let them outside. I'm about ready to cut Rose loose if only to chase down some of the rabbits, chipmunks and mice. I read that cats choose either rodents or birds as their prey. Rose seems like an equal opportunity predator based on my observations. I plan to keep Thorn in for a while yet as he's been sick, fighting off some kind of infection. No one enjoys wrestling him down to administer his daily dose of (tuna flavored) doxycylene. The ear drops really make him mad, and that battle takes place twice a day.

We remarked the other day on the prolific wildlife in our yard. Then I heard this article and it made sense. Between reduced traffic (normally the elementary school next to our property would be buzzing with activity all summer long) and bigger trees, critters abound. One creature was unwelcome, a groundhog. They create really destructive burrows and this one had chosen the drain tile in our one retaining well to make its home. With no trap available, we employed the services of our sharp-shooting youngest son. He successfully dispatched the problem, however it died in the drain tile which created a bit of a stink for about a week.

My book club meets tonight, in an appropriate back-porch-social-distancing kind of way. We read Untamed by Glennon Doyle. I hated it. Didn't finish it.

I did finish: Gulp by Mary Roach, The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey, The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George and enjoyed them all.

B gave himself a haircut with the clippers and he did a great job. I helped him tidy up around the ears and neck, he looks nice. He decided to give golf a try last night--decided he likes it. This poses a small problem because he and I are the only right handed golfers in the house. I'm a foot shorter than him (almost), so my clubs are pretty useless. I have to help him track down some used clubs so he can keep hitting the links. T uses his dad's clubs, and G is out of commission right now. He fractured his right wrist and the cast comes off this week. He's a restless, antsy kind of guy, so that has frustrated him. It's gratifying to see my offspring staying so busy and active despite so much cancelled from their regular routine.


Rose has a naturally indignant expression. RBF.

I'm trying to keep my imagination from going wild--but it's tough to conceive what the school year will look like. Everyone has opinions, of course, but I'm more concerned with facts. It's laughable that anyone believes masks should be optional in public schools--especially once kids are in high school and middle school. Science suggests COVID is airborne and most school buildings have sketchy air circulation--the buildings tend to be old and few districts have the budget to address issues like air quality. I work in a building that breeds mold in the summer months. I also laugh at the politicians threatening to cut funding from schools that don't open. If people really wanted their public schools open, they'd mask up and get their community's COVID count down. If they can't (or won't), then children and faculty shouldn't be endangered by their ineptitude. Not terribly complicated, is it?

And then I start thinking about all the other parts of high school--Homecoming, sporting events, dances, band--but these things are not under my control so what am I doing fretting about them? That's when I rein it in and focus on reading a book, swimming laps or writing the next scene. Best to keep calm and carry on.



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