A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 93

A friend from the Galapagos.

Sunday,  June 14

A turtle appeared in my dreams. A box turtle-size guy, it was dark brown—so dark that it was almost black. And as it lumbered along the ground, a much smaller turtle—about the size of a quarter—jumped from the rear of the larger turtle’s shell. Then another, even smaller turtle emerged. And as the larger fellow continued to walk along, the two little ones began jumping past each other, almost like crickets, they leapt past each other again and again in what seemed to be a game. 

Does such a dream have any meaning—a portent of anything?

Glancing out the French doors in our bedroom, I see a baby cardinal sitting on the stoop. He’s munching on something, for once not hassling its parents about food the way the babies often do. They can be seen flying around in pursuit of mom or dad, all the while squeaking demands. Or sometimes they alight near a parent and whine while eagerly flapping their wings. “Feed me, FEEEED  me!” they seem to be saying, imploring as aggressively as the carnivorous plant in the movie Little Shop of Horrors

There are many box turtles here, but none are brown like the one in my dream. Instead, they are dark green. Once we encountered two in our front yard. It was a nightmarish scene: One turtle’s back foot was somehow trapped inside the shell of another turtle. You could see the entrapped one growing more and more angry, even as the imprisoner seemed willing to let go but somehow unable to do so. We wanted to help, worrying that the angry one might harm the other. But we couldn’t separate them. Then, somehow the entrapped one got loose, and they both wandered away. Since then, we just see single ones, and sometimes they can move very quickly. I think they live in the woods nearby and come out on very hot days hoping to find some water in our yard. Like the birds, they seem excited by the sound of running water.

In other wildlife news, our rabbit reappeared and then disappeared again. The cardinal family is here constantly, as are the very talkative gray catbirds and the usual profusion of finches, chickadees, and titmice. Sometimes we see woodpeckers, who come in three different sizes.

There’s also a young deer in the front yard this morning. A couple of days back, when I was grilling something out on our brick patio, I heard a strange, bleating noise. I thought it must be an unusual bird. Instead, in just a moment a very, very small deer ran right by me, making a weird, I’m-in-distress sound. I’ve never seen such a small deer—at the Westminster Dog Show, it would fit into the “toy” group. 

I always worry about these little animals. There are no predators to keep the numbers of deer down—no predators, at least, aside from automobiles.

Dinner: leftover chicken paprikash, noodles, and a green salad.

Entertainment: Episodes of the Polish TV show The Woods.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 89

Will I be permitted?

Monday and Tuesday, June 8 and 9

To get rid of refuse at the town dump, you must have a permit prominently displayed on your car. On the East Hampton Town website, it says the old permits remain good “until further notice.” But this morning, when I went to the dump, I was told by a staffer at the gatehouse that this was inaccurate. I must apply for a new permit—mine would be expiring on June 15. 

This can only be done by mail, since all Town offices are closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown. You must fill out an application, send a check for the required fee, and include a copy of the relevant documents demonstrating that you are indeed a resident of the Town.

There’s the rub: The required document is a copy of your auto’s state registration, showing a local address. But where to get a photocopy made, since many businesses remain closed? I spent the morning in a fury at this assinine requirement as I searched around for a copier—and that meant going out more in public than I have for many weeks. There was no copy machine at the post office, nor at the nearby CVS drugstore, although someone there said she thought there was a place on Newtown Lane near the Stop & Shop supermarket. I tried a computer fix-it place, and they said to try the UPS store down the street. Success! And after only four once-discouraged conversations.

Got the xerox copy, swung by the Chase Bank ATM to get some much-needed cash, then back to the P.O. to mail in the recycling-center form. Oh, and while at CVS I snagged some TOILET PAPER!!!

The center of East Hampton appeared about as busy as any other weekday woud be in any other month of June. Many stores remain closed, but there were plenty of cars in the main parking lot and apparently lots of business going on. At the post office and UPS, there were lines of people—most wearing masks, many waiting to mail large packages. Stuff they had bought online and were now returning, perhaps?

I did all this while wearing my snazzy tartan face mask and lavender rubber gloves, beneath a coif befitting a cast member from the musical Hair. Except there were no gray mop tops in the ‘60s love-rock song fest.  No geezers allowed in the Age of Aquarius.

Will there be anyone at the town clerk’s office to receive my letter and mail me the dump sticker? Only time will tell, but I doubt that this drama will be concluded by the 15th.

Tonight: London broil, marinated in red wine, garlic, and olive oil, plus baked potatoes with sour cream, and green salad with avocado. Sounds artery-clogging and all-American for sure.

Entertainment: Polish alt-history thriller 1983.