The second time my family crossed the U.S. it was in an old-model Mercedes, a car held together by rust and kitchen string, altogether at odds with the grandness of the name. We flew from Belgium; it followed us by ship, swung over the sides onto the dock in a cargo net. At least, that's the picture I hold: I could be conflating it with a Spanish ferry on the Costa Brava. The family was together then, the five of us, and we stopped into a coffee shop, just off the plane at JFK. I ordered a hot chocolate. "Honey," said the waitress (they still had waitresses and stewardesses in those years, until they were all exchanged at equal value for servers and flight attendants)..."Honey," she said in a mellifluous New York accent, "we don't have hot chocolate in August."
Tenderfoot. When I joined the Boy Scouts, a new scout was called a Tenderfoot — or at least that's what I thought at the time. Since then I've learned that the first rank for a new scout is simply Scout, but there are few requirements for that stage beyond a basic knowledge of the organization and the ability to tie a square knot.
I go down into the ravine in mid-spring for the windless cool. The thistle hasn't taken over then, the grass is still unripe, the nesting blackbirds haven't formed vigilante groups yet, although one or two hang on the rock, baleful eyes and murderous smiles. "Staying long?" they rasp. "Passing through. Passing through," I say. And they nod, disbelieving.
To the east, Goat Hill catches the brilliant light that follows a winter storm. The deep terra cotta strata of the uplift are never as clear as when they contrast with bands of snow, like the blood-red and white of Acoma pottery. Geologists know the hill as the Bellvue Dome. At first glance, it seems just a continuation of the Hogback, with the characteristic eastern slope and sheer scarp facing the setting sun. But the gentle arch of the anticline, the eroding course of the Poudre River at its base, where it winds through Pleasant Valley, set it apart.
I've been getting into miniaturization lately, after a sponsored ad for a magnifying smartphone camera unexpectedly appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. It was an outrageous deal. They had a short-but-irresistible sales video that showed you how to take close-up pictures of your Social Security card, driver's license, and bank account information and text them -- without leaving the app! -- to a number supplied with the box insert. I ordered one immediately, and since the instructions were all in Cyrillic script, I've been muddling by with trial and error, practicing on shrubs around the house before I move on to personal data.
This time of year I sometimes feel like a castaway walking to the edge of the surf and looking long and hard at the horizon. Inside the house here, plants that can’t overwinter outside are struggling: some of the Calendula succumbed to aphids; the rosemary dried — it likes neither electric heat nor wet feet, …
Take a look at this picture. It looks at first glance like a selfie. But a selfie by definition is a self-conscious thing. “Backstage! With Bon Jovi!” That’s a selfie. Or “Me and Diana on the Empire State Building!” Or “Guess who we met on top of the Empire State Building!! Bon Jovi!” And then …