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One Good Thing

My curmudgeon credentials are impeccable. When I was a small child, my mother occasionally called me Hard-Hearted Hannah (I don’t remember exactly why, but it was probably deserved). In my early 20s, I worked with a woman who sighed, “So cynical for one so young.” I’ve been compared to the Shirley MacLaine character in “Steel Magnolias.”

But even this curmudgeon gets tired of it all, and by “it” I mean the whole damn thing. The endless turmoil of news reports. The ungodly relentless hot weather. Squabbling on the internet. The stress of everyday living: heartbreak, disappointment, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, anger. It’s exhausting and disheartening and emotionally debilitating.

Worse, like a forest fire creating its own firestorm and its own weather, misery’s vortex draws us in. We don’t – can’t – look away. We feed on the unhappiness, maybe getting a hit of schadenfreude to keep us going. It seems increasingly difficult to avoid toxicity.

There’s an internet meme reading, “My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.” I like to think I’m pretty well-informed, but I need a break.

One Good Thing. That’s the title. That’s what this will be – a measure of something good. Nonpolitical, nonpartisan. No clickbait. Just something I find that sings to me and lifts me out of the miasma, something I think is worth sharing.

My online friend Patrick Vecchio wrote this a few years ago. When I told him this was brilliant and that I was shamelessly lifting it, he wrote, “As Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band once observed, ‘The amateur imitates. The pro steals.’ A line he no doubt stole.”

The first buds popped on my big Rose of Sharon bush in the backyard today. The flowers are white with a maroon-ish center. They look nice but aren’t as fragrant as I wish.

The appearance of this first flower is like getting a telephone call from Autumn. “I’m coming over,” she says, and there’s no avoiding her.

The Perseids meteor shower Aug. 11-12 is like hearing Autumn’s car in the driveway.

Labor Day is when she turns off the ignition, gets out of her car, knocks on the door and invites herself in. “Long time no see,” she always says. She stays to chat awhile and, before she leaves, tells me she’ll be thinking of me at the vernal equinox.

“I’ll be back,” she says just before she rolls up her car window and backs down the driveway.

Of course she’ll be back.

Of course she will.