Monday morning I walked Penny around the neighborhood for the first time since August 26, 2005. Things have changed.
It's a little weird around here. Though we're certainly not the first folks back home, more than half the houses are still empty, and at certain times of day it feels a bit like one of those scenes in some old cowboy movie where the camera pans down the street, and the gold rush is long over, and there's just a few tumbleweeds rolling by and a few dusty knick-knacks in the window of the long-closed general store, and I'll round the corner and some grizzled, toothless old-timer will be sitting on a stoop spitting into a can, and I'll say "Where is everybody?", and he'll say "Don't nobody come around here no more" and start laughing maniacally, "Ah ha ha! Ah ha ha!", until his body is racked with coughs, "Ack aggck! Ehhkk oo-eck-schh! Uck! Uck-ggg!", and the camera will switch to a closeup of my eyes squinting with steely determination. It's a little like that. (Actually, there really are a couple grizzled old-timers living in an RV down the street, and a scene like this one doesn't seem entirely implausible.)
More people come back every week, but in the mean time, I'll keep wearing my Stetson.