The last postcard I sent to my mother came back labeled, “Attempted- Not Known.” My fault. I left off all but the G in Georgetown, Texas. No zip code. Maybe it was a premonition that stopped my hand. The date of return was the day she died.
“Love you,” is all I was trying to say. Would she even have heard the aide read the two words? She hadn’t responded to my daily postcards. Maybe the message was lost to her in the haze of last days, not in the post office where someone shrugged, unable to deliver the undeliverable.
I’m thankful that 300 years after the Treaty of New Echota was signed, the American Congress is considering seating Kimberly Teehee as a delegate from the Cherokee Nation. It shouldn’t have taken this long. Not every tribe gets a seat at the table, albeit a non-voting seat. But it is a step.
I am grateful to Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary, for her support of Native language recovery, a reversal of the agency’s historic efforts to destroy Native culture. Throughout history, language has kept subject cultures alive, preserved the dignity of their peoples, and fostered a richer experience for all.
I’ve always wanted to find a hidden passage behind a bookcase or though a trap door in the floor. Wonderland or Narnia. A priest hole would work. Maybe that’s why British mysteries hold such appeal for me. So when Rosie the Roomba mapped a passage from my study to the street, I was ecstatic, if confused. Was the opening hidden under the rug? Had we covered the exit to the street with a raised bed like we did the clean-out for the sewer?
My husband says the new room is a mapping error from Rosie getting stuck. I hope not.
I send my mother cards because she has trouble answering the phone. Today’s is a Hungarian landscape from World War II. It’s remarkably free of destruction and death, unlike what we see in war photos from the newspapers.
The place in Texas where she’s living resembles the card’s frontpiece. There’s a lake. There are houses. The hills are a dull green, shot through with bare soil. A year ago, when she hated where she was, my mother threatened to move to Czechoslovakia. Next to Hungary. Close to Ukraine. I’m glad she didn’t. Here, she imagines escape without confronting the reality.
In 1975, I biked my dog to Stanford campus. At Tressider Union, I drank coffee. He rested under the table. Afterwards, we stopped at Lake Lag. Cas retrieved sticks, swimming murky water. “Two-thirds what it was,” the old timers said.
In 2012, my niece moved into a dorm that backed onto a weedy, muddy shadow of Lake Lag. I expected it to fill with rainy season water. No luck, dry like this year.
Hundred year drought we’re in. Arsenic blows off a drying Great Salt Lake, a hazard to fish and people. Climate cycle, climate change, it’s too damn hot.
Rosie is our new Roomba. She’s a little ADD. Childlike, each day a new adventure. She wanders off course though I’ve set a map and a schedule. On her trial run I followed like an anxious parent noticing the places she missed, wondering how to help.
Our little black dog was much more chill. He relaxed on the rug watching while I said, “I think you should move.” He thought her harmless until she ran into his foot. He made a reluctant retreat. But he came back, ears perked. He’s right to think that Rosie is no threat to him.
Can you find the hidden alligator lizard? Imagine squatting in an iris bed, pulling unwanted grass. The grass is what you see first. But before you reach in, ready to tug, a pattern emerges and then a snout and then the wary lizard, eyes unblinking, body unmoving. What a cutie!
Not everyone has that last reaction, but I do. They have personalities, these reptiles. Two fence lizards who lived in our backyard were inseparable, protective of each other, the Romeo and Juliet of lizards. Great extroverts, they enjoyed relaxing on their backs, exposing the blue line that bisected their tummies.
In her dreams, the fetus pleaded for life. The girl woke in a sweat, knowing that she wanted to indulge this creation, but love must be firm. A new life takes years to nurture. Time, money, patience, support. She had no one she could count on for that long, not even herself. It came down to being responsible. She hadn’t been before.
She prayed to a God more forgiving than any politician. Followed a gospel that permitted free will. Took the legal option. Mothers need a choice. Children, a future. Hers are old now. They have gained from her loss.
Our fence, her highway, three times that we know of. Once struggling in thick ivy, an ashen color, a naked tail that made us mistake her for a white rat disturbing the leaves. Next, she cased the neighbor’s vegetables. Finally, she came with two juveniles following in a line.
It was daylight, an unusual time for them to be about. Overcast, so that might have helped. The mother was scruffy, the youngest sleek with soft fur. We didn’t see them after that.
Maybe the camera scared them off.
Or is it that they change hunting grounds every few days?