A neighbor’s black and white cat thinks of our yard as its own. I call him the Hitler cat for the rectangular black patch beneath his nose. He appears to have killed a mouse. The smallest mouse ever. It was under the picnic table where I’m sitting to write, and I only discovered it when I moved the table out of the sun. There it was, near where my bare feet had been. I could write at length about What if my feet touched that mouse as I sat writing, my undiscerning toes thinking its tiny claws were simply dried grass? but I prefer not to go down that road. Instead, I’d like you to know that the small dead mouse looks like a comma. I never noticed that before, how rodents (all mammals?) curl in on themselves at death. I don’t plan to touch the mouse. I’ll warn others away, too, and perhaps Hitler cat will eventually take it and present it to his true owner.
A man walked by a few moments ago, pushing a bike and muttering, “Read the Bible, read the Bible.” I wonder if he’s the same man who yesterday morning stood at the Bench in front of our house and yelled, “Abortion is murder, abortion is murder,” and who, when Garth asked him to keep it down because some people were likely still sleeping, said, “Eff them, I don’t care if they’re still sleeping. You’re probably one of those liberal Portland baby killers. Abortion is murder, abortion is murder”? When Garth took his phone out, the guy said, “If you call the police on me, I’ll come back here and kill you.” Maybe just now this was the same guy coming back looking for Garth, or just looking for the Bench. He could rest in the shade it offers in this heat, but his illness pushes him forward, pushes words out of him, “Read the Bible…” so he keeps walking.
There are birds the size of the smallest of mouses flitting between our aspen and hawthorn and apple trees, chittering to each other. Our apple tree is lopsided, a dwarf gala – at least I think it’s a gala – these kinds of particulars escape my mind. I am surrounded by flora, the names of which I don’t know. How bounteous our gala crop promises to be depends on where I look. On this branch are clusters of tight-skinned, shiny green apples the size of racquet balls. Apples on another cluster are already mealy-looking, they’re the size of kumquats, the blossom ends dusty and cobwebby.
Today, I complained gently to the cashier at Trader Joe’s about the heat. He said, “Oh, it’s not hot.”
Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that we humans don’t get to decide for each other what does or doesn’t constitute discomfort for another. I can say that this morning, I took a cooling shower to start things off right, and broke a sweat minutes later putting on my clothes for the day. I rest my case.