Even though I’m retired, I get up at 6:30 with the alarm every morning. I do this to take my dog for a walk. Her name is Sophie and she’s 115 pounds, half Malamute, half Husky. She’s a very formidable, in your face, curious and active dog. And she doesn’t like other dogs. Or cats, or for that matter, any other animals. So we go out early to avoid contact with others. Even at 8 years old, she’s lost none of her youthful exuberance. She’s always on a leash but will lunge at walkers, joggers, and bicyclers. Not to hurt them, but because she wants to see, smell, and experience everything. So we go out early to avoid most of that.
This morning, it was raining. It’s been raining off and on for days here. The “April showers” waited until May. The rain this morning was light, just a sprinkle, so I put on my rain jacket and out we went. Sophie doesn’t care about the rain. She wants out no matter what the weather, and will spend hours outside in the bitter cold of Winter, in the rain of Spring and Summer, she just wants out.
So of course this morning, everything is wet. Leaves on trees and bushes drip water into puddles. Pavement is shiny in the still on street lights. Flowers droop from the weight of rain on their petals. Geese and ducks, ever present along the river, sit or stand unaffected by the rain, along its banks. One Goose hanging out with a few ducks started honking a warning as we approached. It then proceeded to try to heard the ducks into the water. It seems its instinct was to protect, not mattering that the ducks were not geese, it tried to keep them safe from the approaching human and dog. Probably more so, the dog.
The greens of Summer, trees, bushes, and grass are all very vivid when wet. In contrast, the city has large planters filled with colorful flowers placed around town and baskets filled with flowers hang from period lamp posts along the downtown streets. As the rain continued unrelenting, water drops formed and fell from the brim of my cap. Sophie, stopping occasionally to shake herself off, plodded along the streets, smelling and nosing into everything along the way. Several people donning rain coats fished along the banks of the river below the dam.
Back home I toweled off the beastie, hung up my wet rain coat, and stood for a moment looking out the window. I realize my privilege, being white and living in a small town that’s relatively safe because last night, not 30 miles away the streets of South Minneapolis were filled with people protesting another unnecessary death of a Black man at the hands of a White police officer. I realize my privilege, not having to worry about things like that. I realize my privilege sitting here in front of my computer, with internet, in a good house with heat and air, and a refrigerator and cupboards of food. I realize my privilege being able to walk safely down the street not worrying about being targeted simply for the color of my skin.
I realize that some may be put off by my writing this. By taking this turn from writing about the beauty of a rainy Spring morning to writing about the darker aspects of American society. But it must be done. Not saying anything about it has brought us what we have now. It seems inconceivable that some people are afraid to walk down the street because others may see them as a threat just because of who they are, what color they are. It seems inconceivable that this country is still this backward. And yet, here we are. Something must be done, something must be said.