Commentary

Editor’s Notebook: A broken rhythm

May 18, 2022 5:45 am
Two cats looking out windows

Juno (left) and Lobster take a look around on a May morning. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Temperatures reached the 90s in central New Hampshire over the weekend, and the cats seemed as surprised as anyone. 

Juno, the more serious of the two and a talented bully, spared Lobster the daily deluge of jabs and combinations that defines their relationship and instead busied herself by looking for a bearable spot for a nap. Lobster seemed just as bewildered by the absence of unprovoked attacks as by the heat – but both played on her nerves. She finally cracked on Sunday afternoon and lunged at the listless, lounging Juno from above. The gambit paid off in aggressive hisses and swats, and a natural tension briefly suspended by hot air was restored as night fell.

Monday morning arrived properly if not remorsefully – low 60s and everything a bit wet from overnight showers. The birds celebrated loudly, which roused the cats, and nature once again found its ancient rhythm – until thunderstorms that belong to late July started rattling dinner plates. 

Then, on Tuesday, deadbeat spring tried to make things right yet again but the breeze carried rumors of another weekend in the 90s. Even May, it seems, has joined the Great Resignation.

The twisted seasons are unsettling now and will be more so down the road, but memories suffer too. There are certain combinations of sensory experiences that even in middle age call forth the best scenes of a New Hampshire childhood. A cool October wind scented by fallen leaves blows into a December sky bursting with the first snow, toward the supple branches of middle May, and into the firefly nights of August. 

That was the rhythm.

At some point last weekend, my daughter said only half-jokingly that she wished she could experience the world as Lobster does. That affectionate goofball was sitting in an open, screened window to follow the movements of birds, chipmunks, and cars. Every couple of minutes or so she would look back at us to say, in her way, “Did you guys see that?!”

We laughed – Lobster makes it easy to do that – but mine wasn’t pure. There was a time when my daughter moved with the rhythm of her American childhood, and she would look at her mom and I to say, in her way, “Did you guys see that?!” But the wonder ended prematurely, the way it has for so many kids who have grown up with too much knowledge of all that ails their world.

The forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s again on Saturday. In May. In New Hampshire. The windows will be closed for most of the day; Juno will stop hissing and swatting at Lobster, who will find the detente troubling; and we’ll all hide from the midday sun.

Cats and people alike will sway and flow, as best they can, to an absent rhythm.

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Dana Wormald
Dana Wormald

Dana Wormald, a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, has been a newspaper editor for more than 25 years. He began his career on the Concord Monitor’s news desk in 1995 and later spent more than a decade at the New Hampshire Union Leader. In 2014, he returned to the Monitor to serve as opinion editor, a position he held until being named editor of the Bulletin.

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