Time Travel: from a Moment in Wisconsin 40 Years Ago to Another day in Hollywood
Emily at 3, a month away from being 4, sat at the kitchen table drawing. There was a big picture window facing the only flat piece of ground on our few acres: a steep wooded hillside to the left, the road to the right, and the Norway pines just beyond. Evergreens may not lose their needles, but their green becomes more a flat dark grey in winter, with heavy dollops of crusted snow weighing down their branches.
She looked up from her drawing and rested her chin on her hand, staring out the window.
“Whatcha looking at, Em?” I asked.
She squinted and made the face of someone trying to solve a problem.
“Remember…when there was green?”
Watching the awful news, and seeing the people trying to leave — especially the kids, in their colorful winter coats and hats — against the cold, greyscale landscape, reminded me of how February always seemed like the longest month in winter. The darkness coming down over that part of the world feels like it’s pushing me to the edge of despair.
I got to work early on Saturday. I had half an hour before I had to open the store and start putting furniture outside. So I went out and sat on the curb to smoke.
Sunlight floods this place, almost as if it could flow around corners and through solid objects. It’s no wonder they started making movies here.
It feels wrong to have such an excess of light and warmth while people are hiding in basements without electricity or heat or food, fearing for their lives.
I look down. In the gutter near my feet is a tiny plant. I recognise it as a tomato seedling–a volunteer.
In a broken part of the pavement in less than an inch of damp dust, tree litter, and street debris, a tomato seed from someone’s street taco or carryout landed, sprouted, and survived the gigantic whirling brushes of weekly street cleaning.
I scooped out this little survivor with a plastic spoon, and put it into a used coffee pod from the Keurig that I’d cleaned out. It’s safe at home with me now; and later today I’ll find it a sunny spot where it can continue to be.
Despite man’s colossal grandiosity and ceaseless efforts to control and reshape everything– and everyone– he sees, life persists according to its own internal instructions.