People in this town are still friendlier than most places. They acknowledge your presence, they smile occasionally, they even speak. Once in a while there is a dismissive look, but usually from someone who associates me with a parent or authority figure, or a walking stereotype.
Yet, the general malaise persists. This post-election new normal is slithering down our throats like cod liver oil or that cough medicine we never could stomach. But we continue on. In some ways it's that quiet shock that accompanies us daily.
Other signs are present. A bookstore displays Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, and suggests the parallels are uncanny. I open a copy and read at random. Could be. Could be it is happening here. But, I question myself, maybe it's been happening since the 1903s when that novel was written. Fascism oozes slowly, sometimes over decades.
This year the holiday spirit seems caught in a snare. The snow helps the visual landscape, the warm beverages build an alliance, some of the music completes the ensemble, but it's still too quiet.
I decide to turn gifts into donations where possible.
The electronic mailbox bulges:
Petitions to sign about the Electoral College, Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, and the U N Foundation for International Health and Rainforest Alliance.
Old favorites like Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, and National Association for Mental Illness. Don't forget the Alzheimer's Association, Cancer Society, and Heart Association.
Especially important this year is the Dakota Access Pipeline (winter has come to those camped permanently to save our mother) More petitions that would like modest donations: Fracking, Resist the Muslim Registry, Rainforest Alliance, Voting Rights (Didn't we settle that one 40 years ago?) Pleas to save elephants, sea turtles, Yellowstone bison,wolves, orcas, giraffes, and the World Wildlife Fund.
I have local issues to consider as well: Homelessness, Food Bank, and After the Finish Line (retired race horses) There are my neighbors on the street who shake my compassion because even those with bigger issues can look hungry.
It's uncommonly quiet, but I have things to talk about.