Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s good

One morning last month, like so very many other mornings, one of the first questions posed to me was, “Is the dishwasher clean?” Most mornings, this roughly translates to “Did you run the dishwasher last night?”, in which case the answer to both questions would be one and the same. This particular morning, however, was unlike most mornings because we’d been without electricity for three days and three nights, so there was no way anyone could have run the dishwasher without a surprise visit from the Generator Fairy. And since there is no Generator Fairy (as far as I know), no magical alternating current had delivered a source of electrical power into our possession. By this point in our experience of going without power for half of a frigid January week, I’d developed a system wherein a pot of water was always on the stovetop so I could light the gas with a candle flame and heat the water for whatever purpose necessary throughout the day: cooking oatmeal or Ramen, brewing tea or cocoa, or warming things like bags of frozen edamame we were keeping in the flowerpot full of snow on the porch (or, as we referred to it that week, “the outdoor freezer”). In the evenings, after the sink had collected the fallout of the day’s mealtime preparation and consumption, I’d heat the water in the saucepan to use while handwashing the load, thus making the experience far more enjoyable than on that first night when I’d only used the chill-you-to-the-bone-temperature water from the faucet. After washing, rather than waste time drying all of those clean dishes, I just loaded them into the dishwasher-turned-dish drainer for them to air-dry overnight so we’d have a dishwasher full of clean dishes in the morning, just like usual.

That morning, on the fourth day with no electricity, heat, or hot water, when my child asked, “Is the dishwasher clean?” the answer was, indeed, yes, but only because they’d been washed before going in there. I said as much, just in case these people hadn’t noticed the extra work and energy all of this powerlessness had required of me, and the response I received was this singular word: “Good.” Good. As in, you washed all of these dishes by hand in the dark by headlamp with water you’d boiled on the stove after thinking about what to prepare for us to eat, considering that the only method of heating food was on the gas range, and then purchasing the items necessary to that end, obtaining them, bringing them into this house, and putting them away (even if that meant burying them in a mound of snow in a flowerpot out back). Oh, and then you actually prepared the food and served it. Those were the steps leading up those aforementioned dirty dishes.

As parents, we frequently have thoughts like these. But it’s important to remember that for children, it’s hard to appreciate exactly what all of those machinations really mean in a practical sense. This is why, in that moment, while I watched my daughter take a clean bowl out of a dry dishwasher, I considered all of the steps–literal and figurative–leading to the eventuality of that clean cereal bowl in her hand. And I thought, you know, it really is good. Here we have a gas range I can light to heat water and food. Here we have a faux fireplace warming at least this part of the house using batteries that I bought on sale at Costco. Here we have a headlamp, a creature comfort our forebears could merely have imagined. Here we have a cell phone I can charge using a USB port in a flashlight lantern, from which I can access cellular data to order groceries which I can pick up without even leaving my car. Here we have a dishwasher, a modern amenity only affordable by a small sector of humankind, which works beautifully as a draining rack for all of these colorful melamine bowls from which we can eat food conveniently preserved in a natural freezer. And here we have the awareness that taking a bowl from a clean dishwasher to use rather than selecting one from the shelf is a kind of shortcut that essentially saves at least a few iotas of energy, even if this child’s motivation for the choice might have been that it’s easier to reach the bowls in the dishwasher than the ones higher up in the cabinet.

So, after that split second in which I’d bristled at what sounded like entitlement, in that one word I heard genuine gratitude. I felt it, too. And someday, baby, you’ll understand just how good that really is.

A compound interest

Our school held a “remote learning day” last month, which is basically defined as “one Infernal ring away from fresh hell”. The two older kids managed it on their own for the most part, thank goodness, but the six-year-old first grader needed one-on-one attention for the entire seven-hour process. At one point we were on the living room floor detaching and reattaching compound words he’d cut out of a worksheet, and I’d just explained that although the word “doctor” was on the list, it wasn’t actually a compound word. He said, “But ‘dock’ and ‘tore’ are both words!” After some more discussion and explanation about how “doctor” must have been included by mistake, we decided to set that word aside and focus on the others. After the reassembling process (which took extra time because he identified “teacup” as a mashup of the original words “teapot” and “cupcake”, as well as “hairbrush” as a fusion of parts of “haircut” and “toothbrush”, but using those new words would have left us with “toothcut” and “potcake”), he was supposed to take a photo and post it to the school-moderated app aptly named “Seesaw”. I was drinking coffee at the time, naturally, and out of pure coincidence, my mug du jour boasted a snarky language-snob slogan. I didn’t make this connection until my pupil showed me the picture he’d taken on his iPad as proof of assignment completion, an image in which both of my knees and my cup of caffeine were featured, but after seeing my mug juxtaposed with his homework, I couldn’t miss this photo-op setup:

It may seem staged, but, my child as my witness, I assure you that this was a very real-life situation. Did the words on my mug appear this clear in the photo my child took? Definitely. Did I catch it in time to have him take another photo without my coffee mug (and my knees) in it before he posting to the school site? Just barely. Good thing, too, because I’m sure his teacher had quite enough of me that day considering that we sent in 39 answers for the activity “find twelve words using the letters in ‘butterfly'”. If she brings it up, I’ll just say that my toothcut into a potcake but the doctor had been put in a compound.

Insect Spotlight (Part 2 of 2)

6. Stick insects put up a good fight, but they do it highly creatively and only on the defensive. When threatened, rather than fight back tooth and nail (they couldn’t, anyway, as they aren’t in possession of nails, per se), they can voluntarily produce a substance from their mouths that’s bitter to a predatory palate, putting their would-be consumer off the meal entirely. They can also summon a secretion from their bodily joints, a smelly potion made of hemolymph, with the intention of suppressing the attacker’s appetite. Some species can repurpose the spines on their legs that they use for climbing, kind of like anatomical crampons, as thorns to prick their enemies, and another can emit a kind of noxious mist to confound the senses of the beast compelled by hunger to trespass against it.

TAKEAWAY: These slender specimen of the animal kingdom may look delicate, but they do not go gentle into the mouths (or beaks) of their predators. In the words of the Bard, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

7. Remember those stick insect eggs that resemble seeds? Well, those eggs are built even more cleverly than just that. In an elaborate trick of mimicry, each egg is appended with a small, lipid-rich knob called a capitulum, resembling the elaiosome on castor oil plant seeds (and others), which provides a food source for many species of ant. When an ant catches wind of the seed-like end of a stick insect egg with its fatty fixture, it will ferret the egg back to its nest to consume the capitulum (or feed it to the kids, er, larvae). Frequently the eggs are left intact after this, and the ants toss them onto their compost, where the stick insect infants emerge. These nymphs look rather like ants themselves, so they’re able to escape the warren and climb incognito out and onto, hopefully, a tasty plant. Stick insect eggs even have an armor of calcium oxalate which preserves them from avian gastric acid; that’s right, an egg can pass unscathed all the way through the digestive system of a bird and hatch where it lands, having hitched a flight to a new area in which the species can further diversify.

TAKEAWAY: This insect has taken every opportunity evolution has offered it, it seems, in an effort to ensure the survival of its kind. The only threat I could imagine to its perpetuation on this earth is if humans ever take it upon themselves to appropriate some kind of utility from these animals. Nothing is as good at precipitating extinction as that mercenary species we call homo sapiens. As long as we leave well enough alone, the stick insect’s enterprising evolution ensures enduring life potential for countless future generations.

8. It’s no secret that hiding in plain sight is a special trick indeed. Anyone who might claim that Darwin didn’t have his finches in a row would have a hard time explaining camouflage in nature, I imagine. Well, stick insects take it to a new level altogether. They have brightly-colored wings that they keep all folded up, collapsed in on themselves, umbrella-like, hiding the brightness. If an insect senses that a predator has spotted it despite its camouflage, it can flash open those wings to confuse the onlooker and hope to escape notice once the threatening beast has refocused its vision. It’s the animal kingdom equivalent of someone looking at one of those encrypted images in a “Magic Eye” book, but as soon as he’s glimpsed the hidden picture and is tracing a bead on its contours, someone flicks a coral scarf across the page, essentially snapping the visual discovery back into obscurity.

TAKEAWAY: If you’ve seen “The Usual Suspects”, you know what I mean when I say that stick insects know how to play the Kaiser Söze card. Is that a tasty tidbit you see on that piece of treebark, you bloodthirsty rodent? ::wingflash:: Nah, just smoke in mirrors. They keep this hidden weapon, the power of bewilderment, under their vests, as it were, and know to unfold the living color in yet another ploy to escape danger. “Now you see me,” they seem to say, “and now you don’t.” No holds barred for life and limb.

9. Not that this next trick is one played exclusively by stick bugs, but their last-ditch effort upon earning the notice of an insectivore is to drop dead, or appear to. Thanatosis, the defense mechanism employed frequently by animals in that moment of abject distress in which they fear for their lives, allows them to assume the posture of posthumousness. For stick insects, the objective of playing dead is twofold; if they fall from a leaf to the ground, for example, perhaps they’ll be concealed by grass or whatever substrate might make them difficult to spot. Another incentive of this method is that to mimic lifelessness is also to assume the posture of unpalatability. Usually insect predators prefer their meals to be alive at the time of consumption, so encountering dead (or seemingly dead) prey doesn’t enliven the appetite in the same way as a hale and hearty specimen would.

TAKEAWAY: Imagine you’re an innocent cookie just hanging out in the pantry, minding your own business, and a hungry kid comes hunting for a tasty snack. If you could, in that moment, summon the perception of being stale or rotten, would the kid pass over you in favor of something fresh? Almost certainly. I’m not saying I wish I could suddenly appear to not be alive in my own habitat, but wouldn’t it be nice once in a while to appear uninteresting, even invisible, just temporarily? For instance, if these kids couldn’t sense my life force wherever I am in the house, would they resist constantly asking me things, like to help them find the sock that’s on their left foot or a burning question like this one I got the other day: “What if people didn’t have fingernails?” It would feel like such respite to tuck up under an invisibility cloak from time to time, just so our presence wouldn’t be incessantly noticed and capitalized upon. How wondrous, indeed, to be ignored! But, then again, I imagine that’s what it’s like to live with teenagers.

Insect spotlight (Part 1 of 2)

When one of your children is passionate about insects, it’s amazing how much there is to learn. As my young son came into possession of a stick bug last fall, it became necessary to research the care and keeping of this treasured pet, and in doing so I stumbled upon an article that described some fascinating habits of these creatures. Here I will present to you the points of interest in the article so you can see why I think we should all aspire to be more like the stick insect.

  1. Stick insects possess the ability to regenerate limbs. Yes, that’s right: like the starfish, earthworm, spider, and axolotl, the walking stick is bound and determined to keep apace. They use a specialized muscle to detach the limb at a weak joint if it’s in the clutches of a predator, shedding the leg in a defensive gambit called autotomy. The juveniles of the species can then grow a new leg during their next molt. Some adult stick insects are even able to initiate the molting process specifically with the objective of replacing the limb.

    TAKEAWAY: They are resourceful, resilient, and very much in tune with their bodies.
  2. Utilizing the rare process of parthenogenesis, female stick insects can reproduce without the help of a male. Their unfertilized eggs, of which a single insect can lay hundreds, will mature into other females, and scientists have actually identified a species of stick insect in which no single male has been found.

    TAKEAWAY: They are so self-sufficient that one single individual contains within itself the potential not just to regenerate itself, but to regenerate an entire population.
  3. Stick insects are so effective at camouflage that their name is borrowed from the natural element their bodies are built to resemble. Not only do they structurally imitate the form of a twig, but they also can change color to blend even more seamlessly into their environment, some even putting on a mottled look to appear lichen-like. Their movements, too, are dictated by this penchant for mimicry, as they can sway and rock as if being undulated by a passing breeze.

    TAKEAWAY: These creatures are masters of self-protection, practicing their defensive expertise in a way that is at once peaceful, inoffensive, humble, and harmless.
  4. Not only do the bugs themselves borrow their appearance from the botanical world, but also their eggs are designed to look like proto-plants, which is to say, seeds, ostensibly so they’ll escape the attention of a carnivorous predator. The mother stick insect, guided by that eternal beacon of instinct, lays the eggs as one would sow a crop of wild oats, spreading them out to decrease the possibility that a hungrily prowling threat would come upon them and devour the whole clutch in one fell swoop.

    TAKEAWAY: These mothers are doing their best. There’s a lot to admire about that. They also understand that inserting a healthy amount of space in between their children favors survival.
  5. Like all members of the entomological and arachnid orders, stick insects are most susceptible to predation after they’ve shed their exoskeleton because the fresh cuticle on display takes some time to toughen and grow darker. To protect themselves after a molt, nymphs will actually eat the skin they’ve just shed in an effort to destroy proof of the process, removing it from the visibility of hungry insectivores. Bonus: the protein in the shed layer is self-recycled, strengthening the individual from the outside to the inside and out again. By ingesting what they’ve just cast off, stick insects literally feed themselves on themselves. Just imagine if, instead of handing down or consigning clothing our children outgrow, we could feed it to them as a nutritious, power-packed snack?

    TAKEAWAY: Even in their youth, these animals are both canny about self-preservation as well as instinctively predisposed as first-order conservationists. These guys have six legs but almost zero footprint! Humans, take a knee.


Down to the last crumb

Everyone who cooks knows that finesse derives from balance: a seesaw of salinity and sweetness, acid and fat, raw and cooked, cold and hot, spice and umami, flavor and texture. A mixture of red harissa paste and labneh cheese makes a lovely dipping sauce for air-fried red pontiac potatoes tossed in olive oil and salt, for instance. Focaccia topped with tzatziki, anchovies, arugula, and al dente-cooked carrot slices creates a similar harmony. Take half an avocado and stuff it with crab or lobster salad, capers, and panko, and you’ll taste what I’m talking about. This principle of balance is why things like Hawaiian pizza work, why lox and cream cheese belong together on a toasted bagel, why granola goes with berries in yogurt and caviar with boiled eggs and diced raw onions en croute. It’s really as simple as cheese and crackers: richness and depth paired with delicate lightness and crunch. But add a dollop of Mike’s Hot Honey to a smear of chèvre on baguette and everything is elevated.

Fried chicken and waffles is another example. Pepper jelly and Neufchâtel. Ricotta with fresh peaches, candied pecans, and balsamic glaze. Cheddar with apple pie, too. I detest the idea of ketchup on scrambled eggs, but there’s a reason people do it. Potato latkes, however, do deserve both sides of sour cream and applesauce, hard sauce should stick around with plum pudding, and horseradish cream cozies up to prime rib cooked rare-to-medium-rare. This is why cranberry sauce has a place on the Thanksgiving table: without that sweet/tart punch, the entire meal would lack a big bit of brightness.

I’ve mentioned time and again how little I like wasting, among many things, food. This has led to much experimentation and trial and error in the kitchen and compelled me to invent or reinvent recipes to incorporate ways to make use of what would otherwise be waste. I’ve been trying to crack the case of the “crumbs in the bottom of the bag” conundrum for years and have had middling success with a variety of solutions, including breading chicken cutlets in Lay’s potato chip bits, adding Pirate Booty powder to pizza dough, and using pretzel-bag silt to salt water for boiling pasta. Recently, though, I was faced with a Costco-sized sack of tortilla chips that had been eaten down to the dust, and I almost, almost just threw it out, but after a minute of staring at those little shards of what was once perfectly good corn, all those tiny pieces that had been brought into this home by the forces of everything from photosynthesis to factory ovens and freight shipping, it was just too compelling a challenge not to accept: how could I dignify all the details, all of the energy and money and calibrated movements, all of the logistics that contributed to the existence of this edible material?

As if that 40-oz. plastic bag of Kirkland Signature Organic Tortilla Chips were a crystal ball of some kind, a vision occurred to me. This vision wasn’t ethereal in nature, though; it was more like one of those window decals in primary colors on the outside of a Taco Bell. In fact, that’s almost exactly what this vision was like: an image of a Crunchwrap Supreme. I’ve never had one of those, but I appreciate the principle. What do you give a bunch of hungry people who can’t decide between a soft taco and a hard-shelled one? Well, you literally roll the two up together and give them both in one handy package. As a child, I loved the bologna and mustard sandwiches with Ruffles potato chips in them that my mom made us, so I’m attributing my Bag Bottom Burrito idea to this texture variation sandwich concept, with perhaps a shade of influence borrowed from that oversized sticker picture on everyone’s favorite Mexican-inspired fast food chain.

Bag Bottom Burritos


1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own)
1 lb ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork), browned, drained, and prepared according to instructions on seasoning packet
Grated cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, asadero, etc.)
Refried beans (or black beans or similar)
Avocado or guacamole
Whatever tortilla chip remnants remain in the bag after whoever ate the last big chip put the bag back in the pantry
Medium-sized flour tortillas
And literally whatever else you like in a burrito or on a taco! Shredded lettuce, diced fresh tomatoes, salsa, black olives, sour cream, green chiles, jalapeños, cilantro, onions, etc.

Directions: Step 1: Add meat, cheese and beans to the tabula rasa of a flour tortilla but don’t fold it up yet! Heat in the microwave until very warm and cheese is mostly melted. Step 2: Add avocado slices (or guacamole) and a generous dump of tortilla chip crumb, roll it up, and serve it quickly, before the chips have a chance to take on moisture and lose their crunch! What’s great about this is that the salt in the crumbs seasons the other ingredients, and who doesn’t like an ample dose of sodium in south-of-the-border fare? Step 3: Gaze upon the beautifully empty bag and revel in everything it represents, including all of the energy you’ve harnessed, honored, and fed to your family, starting with the spring sun that shone on corn fields.

Talk about amazing grace

One year for Christmas, my sister-in-law bought four matching bracelets, gave three to my two sisters and me, and kept one for herself. They were all identical silver circlets, each bearing a cameo-style oval charm with a carving of a flower and the word “sister” engraved on its face. We all thought this was such a special, beautiful gift from a woman whom we’d considered a sister for over a decade and who’d never had a biological sister of her own, and we all wore them with no intention of taking them off.

About a year later, one day I discovered that the charm from my bracelet was missing. We scoured the house and the car and everywhere else we could think to look before disconsolately giving it up for lost. My husband kindly went the store where my sister-in-law had bought the bracelets and came home with a replacement charm, but the design had changed in the intervening seasons, and though it was still a flower and the word “sister,” it no longer matched the other bracelets. Ah, well; it was the best that could be done.

Fast forward about two more years to when my mom gave me a white bleeding heart plant for Mother’s Day, as I was always ogling the one growing in front of her house. I planted it against the garage, but it withered there for want of light. In an effort to save it, I eventually dug it up and prepared to replant it on the side of the yard that enjoyed full sun. To this end, I had to relocate the hose reel, shifting it so close to a planter that it chagrined my husband, and he insisted that I transplant my poor plant for a second time, eighteen inches to the left. Put out but determined to find it a happy root-hole, I broke ground yet again and started shoveling, turning up the hard clay onto the yard (which compelled my husband, who was now thoroughly chagrined, to quietly deposit a wheelbarrow at my disposal). I’d dug about a foot deep when I saw something shiny just barely visible, buried in the soil. A nailhead, I thought, silently scoffing at my memory of the worksite during the years that our house was being built, the entire lot strewn with refuse and castoff construction-related detritus. Fully prepared to disgustedly pull from the earth a crushed aluminum can or mess of mangled metal moulding emanating tetanus, instead what I discovered was, yes, the long-lost pendant: a flower long buried underground.

“What are the odds?” I reiterated to my family, having gathered them to witness this incredible and happy happenstance. “Of all the places to dig a hole!” we marveled, surmising that during one of the thousands of visits I’d paid to the homesite over the course of the three years during which we awaited the house’s completion, the charm had dropped from its bangle to be buried by the dirt of many months, and there it had lain until our landscaper (a charismatic character named Ralph who has the most magnificently mellifluous Irish accent ) rolled out the sod overtop.

Once the surprise and delight of the wild coincidence had quieted, a more profound reflection began to resonate: how akin this serendipitous incident was to my experience of sisterhood. Just over a year earlier, my very own sister had moved into the carriage house apartment over our garage, a literal stone’s throw from where I’d dug that hole. Over the course of her thirty years of life, we had come together and parted ways countless times geographically, usually convening when people do things like head home for the holidays, but through the decades we had always been there, in the important ways, for each other. Though not all biological sisters are fortunate enough to share this circumstance, I couldn’t help but align the beauty of finding this buried treasure to the omnipresent value of having sisters. No matter how disparately our paths would diverge over the years, we’d always reconvene to walk alongside each other, our steps in sync during the stretches of life we could tread together. We’d each travel in separate circles, as life would have it, until we’d cross ways again and exist in the bubble formed by the two circles’ overlapping edges, a Venn diagram of togetherness.

If someone can lose a tiny silver disc no bigger than a flattened dime, only to have it turn up like a good penny years later, unearthed from the very ground where it had been buried; well, it goes to show that just because something is gone, that it doesn’t mean it’s lost. And even when one sister is in a completely different place (on the planet, in stages of life, relating to mentality, etcetera), she’s still right there in heart and soul, if not also body and mind. And while I’m completely convinced that the universe was complicit in the fallen charm’s finding its way back to me, I’m still calling this the best outcome of all of the times I have caused my husband chagrin*.

*to date

Stairway to somewhere

Mother: “Sweetheart, your Ziploc with the contents from your owl pellet dissection is still on the counter at your breakfast spot. It can’t stay there, so would you please find another place for it to live if you want to keep it?”

Daughter: “Oh, yes! I know just where to put it!”

Also Daughter:

A perfect home for literally nothing.

When a hypothesis becomes a theory

Our youngest child is captivated by nature. As his mother, my interest in the natural word and its many-legged denizens became rekindled through his passionate preoccupation, and I’ve grown vicariously and then authentically enthralled by these animals as well, often spending great deals of my own time researching them and feeding the individuals for which he’s created habitats inside our home. I’ve worried over whether his praying mantis’s diet is varied enough, I’ve stopped what I was doing to refresh a cotton ball with water to keep the grasshoppers’ enclosure adequately hydrated, I’ve researched how to overwinter an ootheca and how to help one hatch come spring. I’ve held infantile, hangnail-sized praying mantis nymphs in my palms and breathed hotly onto their incredibly intricate and miniature framework to resuscitate them from exposure to cold. I’ve left overripe grapes in a bowl to catch fruit flies, not to rid our environs of the pests, but to catch and release them as fodder into the jug full of spiders. I’ve dug countless earthworms out of the soil and offered them, one at a time, in the basin of an acorn cap with a long stem for a handle that we call “the egg-cup”, to the tongue-flickering jaws of the tiny DeKay’s brown snakes we found in the yard (yes, my son also loves reptiles). I’ve celebrated upon making the discovery that stick insects consider the blackberry leaves from our garden a delicacy, and I’ve embarked on a project wherein we cast all of the deceased specimens and instar-sheds he collects, many of which he hands me upon climbing into the car after school, in clear resin using silicone molds. To love a child means that his loves are conferred upon you in an associative sense. Fascination begets fascination.

He’s dressed up as a spider for two Halloweens so far, most recently sporting a rather involved black widow getup including a hand-painted acrylic hourglass to embellish a black shirt with that cochineal badge, the maker’s mark of his favorite species of arachnid. He’s written several books about all manner of bugs, most recently a nonfiction research journal on centipedes. His bed is full of plush insects and spiders. He has stacks upon stacks of artwork devoted to his observations as a naturalist and shelves of books featuring a beloved host of animalia and other creatures, including a beautiful volume detailing the world of microorganisms (he calls them his “microfamily”). I helped him create a YouTube channel we’ve called “Arlo’s Animal Wonders”, and he signs off each video with a signature tag line, an idea he borrowed from his current idol, Coyote Peterson. He brings his prized possession, an insect vacuum (given by a dear friend for his last birthday), everywhere and even carried it the entire 4.3 miles on our most recent hike. He’s begged me to buy whole fish and crabs at Costco so he can inspect their anatomy; the branzino fins and snapper tails from our last piscine investigation are still on the back porch fossilizing until they’re desiccated enough to join his indoor trove of treasures. On his last playdate, he and four friends each dissected two whole prawns–one raw and one cooked–with dinner knives and tweezers. That night in his bedroom, upon learning that I’d disposed of the carcasses, he cried until I promised I’d excavate them from the trash can.

One evening we found yet another infinitesimal moth flitting around on the third floor while he was getting ready for bed. Despite my imploring that he just change his clothes and brush his teeth, he thundered down two flights of stairs to fetch the empty mayonnaise container he was planning to use as a collection vessel and insisted on capturing the moth. Once he’d successfully screwed on the lid, I knew from experience that a conversation needed to happen so he’d be prepared for the probable outcome that the moth wouldn’t make it ’til dawn. (When his stick insect died, he lay for a long, long time on the hardwood floor, holding the limp body and considering it so lovingly, so wistfully, that I thought my heart might just deliquesce and leak out on the spot.)

I said, “Buddy, what happens if the moth can’t live overnight in that container? I mean, are you going to be okay if it isn’t alive tomorrow? Like, what if there’s not enough air in there for him to last that long?” And his answer, “Well, then, we will have learned something,” was the sentence that provided the final piece of evidence to confirm my suspicions that not only is this child a scientist, but a scientist can be a child.

In loving memory of Mary Oliver, departed from living but forever here for life.