September Morn

Dearest Rachel –

You would think that, of a holiday weekend, there would be more children playing in their lawns, more people out and about working around the house or walking their pets. It’s not as if I’m out and about at an obscenely early hour in the morning, after all; yes, I woke up shortly after six despite every attempt to do otherwise, but I did manage to convince myself to stay in bed for a good hour and a half thereafter. And even then, I lounged about the house for nearly another hour and a half before deciding that, if I wanted to consume any calories (in term of breakfast), I had better burn some first.

So, you think that by nine o’clock, there’d be some outside activity among those staying home for Labor Day. And yet, it’s not as if the day truly encouraged that sort of activity. The sky is cloudy; not so much gray as paper-white, but solidly so, enough to leave a person wondering if and when it’s going to rain today. I have, however, been assured, by what forecasts I could look up, that the odds of precipitation will remain in the single digit until at least the wee hours of overnight, and even then, those numbers will remain astonishingly low, given the threatening look to the sky. It’s also noticeably chilly, compared to recent days; one may not be able to divine the exact temperature, but if it’s 70°, that’s being generous. And the occasional breeze makes it that much cooler as a general rule.

And here, I’ll wager you probably thought I was going to talk about that painting of the same name as this letter. Well, it’s certainly that level of chill outside; not the sort of weather to take an outdoor bath in unless you absolutely had to. And, be fair – on those occasions when we could only get to the island in the months of September or October, you did just that from time to time, but it was on days that were sunnier and warmer than this (it didn’t hurt that it was unlikely for you to be up until nine, giving the sun plenty of time to make its presence known beforehand).

Eventually, however, the traffic does begin to pick up, although I doubt it’s anywhere near what we’d see of a typical Saturday (and, considering I’m dictating this on a bench in front of the local junior high school, I can say with confidence that it’s considerably less traffic than on a weekday). The odd car goes by the school, on it’s way to… wherever it’s going. A mother bicycles by along with her child, and I can hear the chatter of a couple across the street. But by and large, it’s very quiet morning by any standards.

Even the grocery store parking lot, well not empty, isn’t nearly as crowded as I might expect, given that today is one last day for grilling and the like, so you’d think there would be people stocking up for one last party. Then again, that might be something that most people do several days in advance, as opposed to at the last minute like I’m doing. Although, to be fair, if I want to get some pastries for Daniel (have I told you that he fell in love with mini strudels after your passing? A neighbor of my folks gave us some, along with some cookies and other goodies in a care package shortly after the funeral, and he’s taken a fancy to them ever since. Considering he’s given up on the old Saturday morning routine of getting breakfast burritos at McDonald’s or the like, he had to come up with something to substitute), it’s better to do so like this so that they’re at their freshest.

Unfortunately, the place is out of the strawberry and cream cheese variety that Daniel particularly favors (it’s the only reason I come to this grocery store in the first place, as it’s the only one that offers them), so I’m left to seek out an alternative. At least by walking over to the local donut shop, I get in that many more steps, I guess.

I pause for a moment to take a wistful look at the place where the old bagel shop used to be. That ‘two weeks to move the spread’ lockdown basically killed that place. I wonder how that friendly old Korean couple that ran it are doing now. Even after all this time, the strip mall hasn’t found anybody to fill that spot.

Of course, it isn’t the only thing that’s dried up and blown away over the course of the past two years. I pass by the outbuilding where are local bank used to be – although, didn’t that closed before your accident? I can’t remember now – and notice that, opposite it, the clinic that had been set up where the old hardware store used to be has apparently closed its doors, too. At least, that’s what it looks like, the sign out front has been taken down; they wouldn’t do that if it were still in operation, now, would they? It seems weird that a clinic would close its doors over the course of a pandemic, but there you are.

There’s further disappointment at the donut shop; for all my thoughts of getting a carrier boxes of chocolate munchkins, there isn’t a single one to be found. I’m starting to feel like John Cleese in the cheese shop at this point.

I could certainly go for some Rogue Cheddar at this point

I settle for a couple of wake-up wraps (although, once I return, I discover that I forgot to specify white cheddar rather than American cheese), and make my way home.

At this point, people are starting to wake up and come outside; perhaps everyone was waiting for everyone else to wake up so that whatever noise they would make – including three different people mowing their lawns – would not disturb such neighbors that might have chosen to sleep in. Or, maybe everyone else slept in today, seeing that the sun never showed (and will not be showing) its face today, and I’m the only one up and out so early on a holiday morning.

I somehow doubt it, though.

Anyway, take care of yourself, honey, and keep an eye on us, if you think of it. Love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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