On my first visit home after William died, a storm shook brittle branches and brown needles from my parents’ longleaf pines for my father to pick up and rake. My father’s ’68 Continental, no longer subject to falling branches thanks to a tree removal he had ordered, was still in the driveway with one side of its black convertible top still sagging. But the feeling about the large, old subdivision lot was different, and after the storm I walked the place to look closer. Songbirds chirped with impunity and thought nothing of hopping on the grass. My shoes sank into the sandy, Tidewater soil beneath the lawn, now undermined by moles. And, for the first time in sixteen years (as far back as my memory served), there were cats.
We’d climb on old gondolas and tugs and dugout canoes illuminated only by a translucent, fiberglass ceiling. We could see the pine needles and dirt accumulating in rows along the corrugated roof from inside the building. We played underneath a white, fallow field blessed by inattention and sunlight.
A sign in the aisles said not to climb on the boats, sure, but no one was ever in the room with us: no docent, guard, member, or guest. Only birds.
At lunch Sunday in the shade and breeze of a large oak beside the cow-punctuated hills that keep the summer air in Bluemont so dry, I gave a friend a copy of Roland Barthes’s Mythologies. Rocket Scientist Friend (hereinafter “RSF”), who was eating with us, took the book, turned at random to the article “Steak [...]
Last fall two baby turtles, about the size of pickle chips, reached our doorstep in a Styrofoam hamburger box. They were the fruit of long family deliberations over what pet to get. Fur makes me sneeze, and my wife has a thing about the snakes and lizards my son wants. The turtles belong to my [...]
Bethany’s fall semester ended in late January, and her spring semester begins in early April. She’s been traveling around Japan in the two-month interim, staying in hostels and meeting up with friends.
Now she’s working on an organic farm in Nagano, which a lot of us older Westerners may remember as the home of the 1998 winter Olympics. She’s neither farming nor skiing, though. She’s earning her room and board by doing odd chores and helping her host with her seamstress business. Bethany loves crafts, so it’s a good match that way.