IS THAT A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING?

This morning I looked out and saw the leaves had turned yellow with red at their edges. This happened literally overnight. We had thundering rains yesterday into early this morning and it wasn’t clear when the famous colorful New England fall was finally going to arrive, I was thinking maybe January.

When the leaves turn I feel like they’re having their own private conversation with me, telling me about what it is for flora to age, to listen for the whisper of the winds that, sooner rather than later, will take them down. I listen to the big public conversations we’re having in this country lately, but it’s the smaller, private conversations that keep me going.

Several days ago I called my mother in Jerusalem. She’s 90 years old and sounded distracted on the phone.

“Mom, you’re not listening to me,” I finally say.

“That’s because I’m listening to your President on the radio.”

“You’re listening to Trump, mom? Why?”

“Because he’s talking at the UN.”

“So what do you think?”

“I think he has some good points to make.”

“Like what, mom?”

A shadow of belligerence. “Listen, Eve, our leaders here are no better. That’s what happens in every country. Goodbye, I have to go.”

“Where are you going, mom?”

“I have to listen to the radio.”

“You’re getting off the phone with your daughter to listen to Donald Trump?”

And just last night:

“Eve, I can hear the river. Can you hear the river?”

“Sure can, Bernie. It’s been rushing hard all summer and now fall because of all the rain we’ve had.”

“Wow! And I can hear the rain. Can you hear it?”

“Yup.”

“It’s those new hearing aids I got. You know what happens when I flush the toilet? It sounds like Niagara Falls. And is that Aussie downstairs?”

“That’s Aussie downstairs, Bernie.”

“And because the new hearing aids are paired to my phone and iPad I can hear what everybody’s saying when they call me. I can hear everything, Eve.”

There’s a pregnant pause.

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing, Bernie?”

“What?”

“Hearing everything.”

“Good question.”