Consistently floored by nature facts
The Fire Within
He remembered his first pocket lighter. It was emblazoned with the colorful dancing bears of the Grateful Dead. His father stumbled in from the great bonfire raging across the street at the Henleys' and found him on the kitchen floor, petting his imaginary cat, Tofu. His father’s face was ruddy and languorous, his eyes pinholes. Thomas exhaled, and his father’s head swung from the lighted cavern of the fridge to the dark corner where he sat, clutching Tofu, stupefied. His father's fingers closed decidedly around a Bud Light and the door of the fridge swung shut, plunging the room in semi-darkness.
June 1967 I’ve left Kentucky only once. After I’d imprinted on Jonah and dropped the last of my downy fledgling feathers, I was passably house-trained enough for a vacation. The destination was Mission Beach in San Diego, where we drove as a family: Ma and Pa and Jonah and me in a traveling cage, which Ma was very careful to call an ‘atrium’. On the drive, I tried to minimize my chatter because Pa—a man I remember chiefly as large and covered in black hairs, with a voice like a rockslide—did not care for chatter. Sly Jonah used this fact to his advantage and trained a new phrase into me for weeks beforehand. As the family ignored each other as best they could in the cramped cabin of the family wagon, Jonah poked me through the bars of the ‘atrium’. I took this as my cue.
Fall of Man
All the world is the flesh of the apple that sways just out of reach, framed by my kitchen window. Our atmosphere is its thin green skin, stretched taut over a ripened interior, shielding us from the solar juggernaut that falls from the sky and dissolves into the ocean, over and over again.
A Meal, A Symphony
There is a tempo to cooking and to eating, as there is to music. The diet industry may tell you that this tempo is grave: slow and solemn, yours the duty to spoon each portion of quinoa with great consideration for the consequences and punctuate each mouthful with a sip of water. I learned another tempo in early childhood, dumping cornflakes into my bowl at breakfast. Scarcely was it filled when I had it emptied, pouring three or four more before my sweet tooth was satisfied. Presto, extremely fast. Still, these bowls of cereal fueled an active childhood, barefoot on the blacktop in a suburb full of cereal-chomping children.
The Poor Side of Paradise
Marí All I want out of life is to be the world champion slalom skier, and maybe a new string for my ukulele, on account of me smashing it into the dirt when my brother Fonzo lost his prize bull at the rodeo. But if my wants had a hierarchy, skiing would be at the very top, because even though my little mountain town has produced a bajillion and a half world champions, not one of them has ever been brown. I know it would make Papa cry and Fonzo holler, and maybe even Mama would stop frowning.
I expected Serena to be a woman of ordinary tastes and an amusing if not arousing search history. But as I opened her up to my methods of inquiry, I found her to be like ice on a lake, obscuring all the mystery below the surface. Despite the self-preserving guardedness I employ in these situations, I was compelled. Here was a complicated tangle of a woman, and because I knew with certainty how began the ends of this knot, I alone could possibly understand Serena.
The Library of Juaco
Carlos slipped with grace through the landscape; his joints ached, but he knew the trail like a lullaby. He longed to encounter María at the library, with her dark hair spilling down about her white Guardia shirt and her way of talking in riddles.