I hear the wind before I feel it. I step onto the patio, and wind-whipped leaves swirl around my feet. The unexpected drop in temperature hits my face like a splash of ice-cold water. Grey clouds drift in from the west, beating the ubiquitous desert sun into hiding. I pull my worn cardigan tighter around me. The scent of rain, maybe snow, permeates the air.
I grab an armful of kindling from the small stack next to the firewood and twist the door open with the tip of my fingers. I push it shut with a hip. The kindling falls and scatters on the hearth. I reach into the fireplace and top the scrunched newspapers with some starter twigs, and then flick a lit match against the paper. The big screen TV draws my attention.
US warns Ukraine that Russian invasion is imminent....
I hit mute, leaving the news to scroll soundlessly across the bottom of the screen. Serious faces stare back at me—muted mouths moving. Two years of disruptive domestic politics and the ever-present fear of the pandemic has pushed me to the edge. I can’t bear to hear whatever it is the talking heads want to tell me. Hopelessness descends; a heaviness like liquid mercury filters into every cell. Day-to-day life has only just begun to resume normalcy. Is it time to admit defeat? We are such a failure as a species. The pond scum rises to the surface but we neglect to skim it off. The scum always reigns supreme.
Biden: Sanctions declared against Soviets....
I slide onto the couch and pull the soft cotton-weave throw around my shoulders. Breath: slowly in, slowly out. I pick up my book and snuggle into the safety of escapist fiction. The story unfolds in a small English village where hollyhocks and sweet peas bloom, and neighbors stop to talk about nothing on the cobblestoned streets. The most pressing news is how the new minister's wife will manage the pending bake sale at the Anglican Church.
Outside the wind tests the strength of my newly planted backyard sapling. Through the semi-opened wood blinds I watch it whip back and forth, more of a struggle than a dance. Holding its own. Fighting to be resilient. My eyes stray to the flickering screen.
Boris Johnson said the international shock of a Russian attack would "echo around the world", as the UK urged Moscow to engage with talks to prevent a conflict....
The announcers' unsmiling faces exacerbate the grim theme unfolding. Unthinking, I lay the book on my lap, hinged open, pages down. Nothing distracts from this feeling of dread. Have I lived too long? Is too long when everything inside you goes quiet when you realize nothing you’ve done matters, nothing is ever going to change. Protests, letters, marches, sit-ins, registering voters, Vietnam, the Middle East, Desert Storm, The Gulf War, school shootings, the environment…. We are failing as a species. Worse, our species is failing those dependent upon us.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl power plant….
The sticks of mesquite atop the balled paper catch, sending up reddish-orange flames. As I
step onto the patio for larger logs, the wind whips the French door out of my hand. It slams against the stucco wall. One pane of glass cracks. Just one. I pull two logs off the firewood stack and add them to the fire. Outside a gloomy darkness settles in. The fireplace charges the dim room with a false sense of coziness.
Dozens of soldiers are killed as Ukraine tries to mount an all-out attack….
I should turn on some lights. It’s too dark now to read. Grabbing the soft throw, I turn off the TV and sit on the floor with my back against the couch. I pull the cottony blanket over my head and hide in the safety of my shroud.