Summer starts, according to the calendar, the third week in June. For many North American humans, including our friends on Pine Street, the rhythms of the climate make the end of May feel like the true start of the warm season.
By the end of May, the spring blossoms are fading to a delicate shade of caramel, trees are a luscious green. Grass grows knee-high everywhere a homeowner wishes it wouldn’t, and stubbornly stays brown and flat where the same homeowner envisions a lush lawn.
Evenings stay light and warm later, drawing everyone out of doors after dinner.
The start of summer this time around is like no other in living memory. Warm breezes bring scents of growth and grief. Sunrises seem to set the few clouds on fire; anxieties set minds blazing, too. After a spring of disruption, the Pine Street tribe recognizes the need to adjust to a new reality, rife with uncertainty.
Hearing a rap on the door, Louise starts from her mask-sewing. This summer, people do not show up unannounced. No one “drops by.” Although she has loved living with Douglas in Marilyn’s old house, she did not have time to truly settle in before he was struck with illness. The house holds her as a guest, still. For a moment, Louise is gripped by uncertainty. Should she answer the knock?
She peers out the window. David waves from the sidewalk, pantomimes the act of placing something on her front stoop, and waves again.
He’s brought her groceries, bless him. Opening the door, Louise sees the four-pack of toilet paper perched on top of the other supplies.
She brings the bags inside, places them in the mud room, washes her hands. She’s disinfecting everything, even though there is mixed information about whether it is necessary. But when Douglas comes home – when, when, when, she chants to herself – everything will be perfectly clean and safe.
By the time she realizes she did not wave back, David is gone.