Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Catoctin Mt.

     Catoctin Mountain on a cold day. Notice the quartzite (white). Quartzite is a mountain builder--hard, metamorphic, and resistant to weathering.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter pear trees

     The pear trees in the backyard are the last to lose their leaves in the fall. Because of my laziness, these leaf piles often stay put until spring.
     The snow melted recently, revealing matted clumps of brown pear tree leaves all along the back fence. I will pick up a leaf here and there with dog shit, which cannot be left (The dogs will turn around and consume what they've just shat out if you let them. God damn gross dogs.), but mostly the wet, shiny, brown, masses of leaves will sit on the ground and decay for several more months.
     Without the snow, the backyard looks soggy and damaged. That's the way things look at this point in the seasonal transition. But soon everything will be green--suddenly fresh and renewed--and there will even be buds on the lagging pear trees.
     The sky was foggy tonight, and lit by something, maybe a street lamp, down the way. The dark branches of the pear trees stood in relief against the grayness. The trees have straight and slender branches, that look like straight and slender arms, that rise and reach up and up.
     Tonight the pear trees, with their reaching branch-arms, were something to marvel at in their winter state.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas gold

     It's early morning, two days after Christmas. I'm standing in my childhood bedroom, looking out the window, watching the snow fall. It's time to leave. 
     I pack. I shove dirty laundry into my bag and place it by the door next to a pile of unwanted gifts. Did I forget anything? I look in the bathroom and at the table next to the bed. No. I load the car. The cold air wakes me up and makes me keenly aware of my need for coffee. I will score some when I'm on the road. I'm in an urgent, ready-to-move-forward state. I want to leave now, right now, but first I have to say goodbye to Mom and Dad.
     I walk back upstairs. I can hear Dad snoring in their room. Mom opens the door, surprising me. Her quilted robe is neatly wrapped around her, showing off a wedge of fuzzy pink pajamas at her collar. She looks fresh. She has probably been awake for hours, silently playing games on her iPad.
     "Time to go?" she asks.
     "Yep. The car's packed. I put the sheets in the wash." 
    "Did you check the bathroom?"
     "Yep. All set. Should we wake Dad?" He's still snoring beyond the door.
     "Yes. Oh, wait. I want to give you something. I almost forgot!" She holds up her index finger and then darts back into their room. 
     A minute passes. I walk downstairs and wait in the living room. I look around. The furniture and pictures have not changed in years. The room feels worn out--old. It even smells old. My parents sit in here every day. They are old enough to smell old. I realize the furniture is just soaking in their smell.
      Mom eventually finds me downstairs. She is holding something in the palm of her hand. She uncurls her fingers. "Here," she says a little breathlessly. "I want you to have this."
      It is a gold ring, one that she has always worn. It is featured in my first memories of her hands. I automatically reject it. "No, Mom."
     "But it doesn't fit me anymore. I've wanted you to wear it."
    She holds up the thick gold band stacked with diamonds and a sapphire. I look at it and then at myself. I'm wearing my standard jeans and a t-shirt. My hair is in a ponytail.
     "I really appreciate it, Mom, but I don't want it." I sort of spread my arms out as if to say, look at me, it doesn't go with this.
     "I thought you could wear it as a cocktail ring." She puts the ring on my index finger. It's too big. She starts to cry.
     I look at the front door. I look out the window. The snow has stopped falling. I am ready to leave. I do not want to take one more thing. "Sorry Mom, but I don't want the ring. I've never liked it. It's not me." I hug her and then pat her on the back. "I love you. I gotta go."
     "I know. I know you hate it." She cries harder. Her shoulders shake. "I miss you. You're my little girl."
     I hold her. "Aww, Mom." I'm not little. I'm forty-five, although I feel like I revert to my thirteen-year-old self any time I visit my parents.
     "I know you still love me even if you don't want my ring."
    "Of course, Mom!" I rub circles on her back. I listen. There's an absence of sound coming from the bedroom. My dad must be awake, but  he won't come out now. "Okay?" I pull away from my mom.
     "I just miss you so much and want to show you."
     "You do, Mom, in lots of other ways. I'll call you when I get home, okay?"
     She wipes her cheeks and then wipes her hands on the pink fuzz of her pajamas and smiles at me.
     I leave. I drive away and look for coffee.

Monday, January 6, 2014

You're so gay, D.C.! Love you.

     "It's official: D.C. is the gayest city in America, according to The Advocate. (And yes, the New York Times was ON IT.)" Matt Cohen, today's DCist.

     Congratulations, D.C.!
     And also great topic sentence, Matt.