DESPITE THE GUT-DEEP fear in the world today, I couldn’t help but sit in awe of the cherry tree in my front yard. Spring seemed more beautiful this year, and the fallen petals covering our lawn—like snow from the winter we never had—lifted me to a brief, dreamlike reverie.
As it turned out, I was sharing that moment with the cats, who had joined me on the porch. Their unusual attentiveness prompted me to explain why I was at home on a weekday, why they now get their breakfast at 7 a.m. instead of 6 (despite their desperate scratching on the other side of a newly closed door), and why life had otherwise changed in our house.
I told them that a virus was taking hold of our world and that our nation, in crisis but true to its exceptional nature, was led by a president who is exceptionally unqualified for this moment. One of the cats licked his hindquarters in unspoken agreement, and neither contradicted me when I added how shameless were Republican leaders who wanted corporate tax breaks in a rescue package.
When one of them (a cat, not a Republican leader) tried to jump into my lap, I demurred, if demur is the correct word when describing a quick swipe of the hand. I apologized, and started to explain social distancing, but you know how it is when you talk to cats. They maintain eye contact, seeming to treat the matter seriously, but their minds are elsewhere. Perhaps contemplating the sweet sound of a can opener at 6 a.m.