The End of a Weird Summer

When school starts, summer ends. Even here in Texas where the summer weather doesn’t end – we could still have weeks of three digit highs ahead. But the easy living is over. On his school days, Evan has been waking as late as he can, around 7:45am. He spends 10 minutes with the soccer ball outside, then 10 minutes for breakfast, followed by 2 minutes for personal hygiene, before plonking himself down in front of his computer for a day at school. Today is the first Saturday after the first week of school. He’s sleeping in. A rare thunderstorm is rolling in. It is an hour past sunrise but it is still dark outside. Ouiser and I are sitting by the pool, watching the black clouds and the lightening flickering on the horizon. You can almost sense every fiber of nature reaching out towards the clouds willing them to drop their precious water on the parched earth.

We had a good summer. Different but good. It’s the first time I spent all summer in Texas in my 35 years here. We did nothing. Mornings outside with Ouiser and Evan, first with a soccer ball, and then in the pool. By nine or ten we were done outside for the rest of the day. I took a siesta in the afternoon while Evan and Vivian filled their heads with their newest anime obsession, My Hero Academia and Haikyu. At 7pm it is still in the mid-90’s outside. Sometimes Jo and I drove down for a socially distanced drink and chat outside Carol’s front porch. Or we’d go on a short walk with Vivian and Ouiser after sunset. Peyton stayed with us for a couple of weeks before her dorms opened at Texas State. Occasionally, Vivian and Peyton would get in the pool and stay there till well after the stars came out. Diners were served late and more often than I’d like to admit, followed by a trip to the store in Startzville to get everyone our own favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s. After the kids turned in with their iPads and books, Jo and I stayed up and watched a Hercule Poirot or two on BritBox. Outside, the hill country turned from the bright emerald of spring to dull dark green and eventually yellow and brown. Expect for the blooms that love the heat. These beauties shine like beacons of color in the landscape.

A fox has taken up residence up the property near the driveway. Roadrunners zigzag the street carrying squirming lizards in their beaks. In the evening you can hear the distant lowing of the cows, and after darkness falls, the yelping of coyotes. Zeus and Skittles are ready to go outside and try to squeeze out any time someone opens the door. Jo bought them tiny harnesses and Evan has taken them out on “walks” wearing their harnesses and on leashes. But the cats, being the drama queens they are, pretend to collapse under the weight of their shackles and lay like boneless bits of cat fur on the grass. Ouiser roams the outside and mostly returns when called, only motivated by promises of doggy treats. She likes to swim in the pool for the heck of it. Every morning she asks to be let into the pool area, and then she swims around by herself. She also gets in when Evan is in the pool to play, but that is different from her solo swims.

The kids have started complaining that I don’t take photos of them any more. That after spending their entire lives whining when they see me point a camera in their direction. Now I only take pictures of the cats and dogs!

Evan’s school and Peyton’s college started the same week. So one morning we left Vivian in charge of Evan’s online education and lunch and drove Peyton and her stuff over to San Marcos. The Texas State campus is beautiful but they neglected to allow for kids to load and unload at the dorms. We eventually humped boxes and a dorm fridge up these stairs from an unmarked parking spot behind the dorm. I texted Vivian from the top of the stairs telling her she better start working out now so she can move herself into her college dorm in five years. Here’s a thought – what if five years from now we are still struggling with Covid. All physical colleges have ceased to exist. Vivian signs into her college class from the living room couch! There’s a nightmare.

The white wooden house is getting some tender love. We somehow selected renters with dogs both times we were gone and the dogs’ paws have scratched up the floors pretty badly. Floor people are coming in to sand down the floors. In a couple of weeks we will move into a house with pristine floors and this time our dog will scratch them up, dammit. Yesterday Jo and I drove down to Austin in the evening and moved all the furniture to the garage and bathrooms. In times like this I’m particularly thankful that Jo lifts and squats more than me!

When the house is ready we will move back to Austin. The weather will start cooling off and I can’t wait to socially distance and share a drink and grill with friends in the back yard. But I will miss the weird summer we spent in this place. And Ouiser will miss her morning swims.

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