It is the Fourth of July, and I am writing from my front porch. A steady rain is falling. Usually when I work from my porch, my back is against the house, and I directly face the street. When it rains, I have to move my writing table tight against the house, so it occupies the space where I normally sit. This means I have to put myself alongside the table instead of behind it, but this setup gets both me and my table as far under the eave as possible. Unless the rain angles in from the north, both table and writer stay dry. A stray raindrop occasionally hits me on the arm, but that’s about it.

Five mixed race couples (the men all white Wisconsinites, the women all first generation Chinese or Taiwanese Americans) had planned to have a picnic at Pettibone Park today. Pettibone is an island park in the Mississippi River just across the main channel from downtown La Crosse. Yesterday one of the men developed a sore throat and started coughing. Even though he tested negative for COVID with a home testing kit, his wife told us that they wouldn’t join us for the picnic. I have only anecdotal evidence to go by, but I think Asian Americans tend to take masks, vaccines, social distancing, and testing more seriously than Americans overall. To me, a negative test is a negative test, but Manyu and several of our Asian friends are wary of the possibility of a false negative. With two participants skipping the picnic and with a good chance the rain will continue all day, the picnic’s been postponed until next week. 

This means I can sit on my front porch for as long as I want. Manyu and I got in a walk with Jack before the rain started, so the only task I have left for today is to go for a bicycle ride. I don’t intentionally bike in the rain, so I might not go at all. Even when I wear rain gear, I don’t like the feel of water spinning off my rear tire and hitting me in the back. Several friends have suggested I add a rear fender to my bike, but I doubt I ever will.

A toad just hopped to within a few inches of my feet. When the squirrels, birds, and gnats all retreat to their sheltered homes to get out of the rain, the toads come out to play.

Steven Simpson