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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

smoke


Fumbling to make her sandwich in the dim light I shiver once, then again. It is time to nudge her slowly until her eyes open, remind her to brush her teeth and make sure the school bag has the right books in it. We move around each other in one of our many choreographed silences, hairbands offered, phones tucked into pockets, scarves pulled once, the click of a light going on, the turning of the lock, the elevator jangling down. Tiny dogs are barking in the early morning air as we go outside.

The yarmarka (outdoor market) that stood in two neat rows for weeks, is suddenly gone now. Without warning the tents and boxes of fruits are nowhere to be seen. People are smoking cigarettes in the wet air, shoulders bowed against the wind off the river. Sometimes it feels like everyone is smoking here, hacking and spitting on the sidewalks and the walls, tossing lit butts in garbage cans that then smoke and catch fire. Most mornings are punctuated with the smell of burning plastic.

"Are you still with a fever?" She asks me at one point.
"I think it is gone now." I answer. "I just feel like crap."
"Okay." She says, drawing the word out.
People are tiptoeing around a giant puddle, their feet sticking in the mud.
"You should still have soup for lunch." She reminds me.
"Alright." I tell her.
"You know, I like to skip." She says. "Even if I don't feel good I like to skip."



Comments

liv said…
Funny, the coincidences even when we are all thousands of miles away. I too went to the Farmers Market on Sunday, knowing it would be the last of the season. Well, maybe there will be one more, but only pumpkins and squash available.

Spent the week in fever and tossing pain from a kidney stone, not pleasant. Hope you are fully recovered soon. I have a ways to go.

But I will think of that little one skipping, ahhh, that makes me feel better already.

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