Fresh laundry. Hot dogs for dinner. Cold pizza for breakfast. A really good haircut. A joke so funny that you cry. New shoes. The CRACK! of a baseball on a wooden bat. FOMO. Peppermint chewing gum. Runner's high. Your first crush.
Pine trees. Cold dew on a summer morning. MRE's that don't taste like paper pulp. Cornfields as far as the eye can see. Screaming at the sky late at night. Turkey with stuffing. White bread in a plastic sleeve. Getting gum on your shoes.
Scented candles and burnt popcorn. Fresh-cut daisies. Drawing with charcoal. Sun bleached bones. The smell of gasoline. Gel pens. Your favorite animated movie. The scapegoat. Not caring at all.
Butterscotch and sulfur. Rolling meadows of grass. Sand in your shoes. Fried fish in a greasy newspaper. Fireworks on a warm summer evening. Wool turtleneck sweaters. Being double-dog-dared to swim in the lake during winter. The best hole-in-the-wall pub in the world.
Dusty old books. Creaking floorboards. Fresh winter snow. A really good sandwich. Finding a new favorite novel. A handmade scarf. Getting a good grade on an assignment. First editions. Going to the natural history museum. Firmly believing why you were put on this earth.
Breakfast foods. Campfires. The satisfying clicking of clockwork machinery. Reading bedtime stories aloud. T-shirts with math jokes on them. Tuning a guitar. Petting zoos. Knowing your limits. Learning about something that makes you really happy. A cool looking rock.
Antiseptic. Down comforters. Really round fluffy birds. Bad puns. Doing things because you can. Hot tea. Waking up before the sun does. Whistling. Dry cleaning. Fun facts about animals. Really strange nonfiction books. Windy winter days.
Dirt and black coffee. Climbing a tree. People watching. Road trips. Going to bed and realizing you haven't spoken to anyone all day. Fairy bread. Getting caught in the rain. Really cool scars. Having a story for everything. Polarized lenses.
Vermouth and tobacco. Minimalist cuff links. Playing cards. Hair pomade. Silk ties. Your first love. A passing feeling of emptiness. Heels clicking on polished floors. Crusty dinner rolls with soft warm bread on the inside.
Lavender hand soap. Gunpowder. Lilac polo shirts. Worn black denim. Staying up late and watching the home shopping channel because you can't sleep. Beat-up firearms catalogs. Telling your mother to return your birthday gift because your workplace has strict dress codes regarding clothing colors, even though you desperately need that new skirt. Finding drawings from when you were a child. Soft wool cardigans. Shiny silver knives. Yogurt with fruit. Hating and loving your job at the same time.
Drosophyllum lusitanicum, the “dewy pine” or “Pina Babosa” of Portugal, Spain, and Northern Morocco. This plant is an extremely effective fly-catcher, and its leaves have historically been used as a sort of fly paper in parts of its native range.
Kerch: coins jangling their lovely chimes in purses, buskers playing reedy tunes over the crashing of waves against docks, gilded masks over faces to play pretend, footsteps flying over cobblestones, a fist shattering glass, the sharp sound of an auctioneer’s gavel, riddles whispered from keyholes, scrolls stamped with wax seals, sagging walls, roads dented with holes from falling roof tiles, dark red stains against the floorboards, the clopping of tired horses hooves against the cobblestones, drunken tunes sung to the velvet sky of midnight.
Ravka: cuts on your arms that you can’t remember getting, the silence of a library when closed, golden domes rising from the earth, pressing your hand to your chest to hear the volcanoes roaring under your skin, peering at the dregs of tea and coffee, knives carefully hidden under tapestries, the rattle of a caravan in early dawn, arrows patiently waiting to be used in quivers, the shimmer of mirages, veils on the mirror, sharp compass needles lying on desks, a padlocked chest with a lost key, mysterious laughs snatched away by the air.
Novyi Zem: secrets whispered to ears pressed against doors, small smiles exchanged as bartering tokens on the streets, dark wine bottles lined neatly under the cellar, vibrantly colored leaves crackling under footsteps, keys hanging safely under shirt collars, hand woven baskets left on doorsteps, little gifts left behind in tree hollows, history transforming to legends in hushed whispers near the fireplace, the swinging shade of palm trees near an oasis, anonymous messages left behind in the soles of shoes.
Shu Han: sharpening an ax on a whetstone, leather bound books piled on shelves, heavy set cloaks swirling in the wind, the gleam of a newly forged sword, blossom patterns embellished on stiff collars, stars twinkling in the gleams of gems, winding paths on mountain tops that twist away into the depths of the trees, flowers spun from glass, tower spirals leaving their dancing paths in the air, black ink maps that show secret passageways underneath cities.
Fjerda: cool water drunk from an icy spring, silver trees gleaming like jewels under the sun, taut ropes strung across white sails, goosebumps down your neck, chewing mint leaves, cracking the frost off windowpanes, titanium chain mail against your neck, water droplets frozen in hair, young stags leaping into the woods, mist so heavy it catches on the edges of pine cones as dew, the snarl of a wolf as it pounces on its prey.
Pale, then enkindled,
summits of palm and pine,
Soon the roar
cropping the already short
grass of lawns,
men with long-nozzled
cylinders of pesticide
poking at weeds,
at moss in cracks of cement,
and louder roar
of helicopters off to spray
vineyards where braceros try
to hold their breath,
and in the distance, bulldozers, excavators,
babel of destructive construction.
Banded by deep
shadow of eucalyptus,
and other grass, unmown,
no green more brilliant.
. . . .
At day’s end the whole sky,
vast, unstinting, flooded with transparent
tint of wisteria,
over the malls, the industrial parks,
the homes with the lights going on,
the homeless arranging their bundles.
. . . .
Who can utter
the poignance of all that is constantly
threatened, invaded, expended
persists in beauty,
tranquil as this young moon
just risen and slowly
from the vanished sun.
Who can utter
the praise of such generosity
or the shame?
Denise Levertov, “In California: Morning, Evening, Late January”, in A Door in the Hive
Sitting outside your tent together in the morning, eating breakfast in the cool air, enjoying each other’s company in silence. The forest is still a bit foggy around you, pine needles glistening with dew. You look across to her and feel the depth of your of love and the calmness of being alone, surrounded by the wilderness. You decide to lean in and kiss her on the forehead, the moment seems eternal, like a haven of peacefulness you never want to leave.