The landscape of my childhood was obstinate— slabs of rock and stunted pines, lakes spiked with whitecaps — but it had a singular music:
white-throated sparrows in the morning, loons across the water at night, buzz of hummingbirds, twang of frogs plucking the stalks of water hyacinth.
Devil’s paintbrush, cornflowers, Queen Anne’s lace, vetch and buttercups sparkled in the long wet grass. We wove them into garlands at temple and neck, carried home bouquets that always died en route.
We wanted to bring everything home: raspberries sweet as maple sugar from Madame Piotte’s store where we walked after supper to pick up the mail (Madame Piotte, whose varnished ziggurat
of hair we believed housed poisonous spiders), snails striped like beach umbrellas, impossibly small toads whose journeys between our feet made us colossi, sunnies and perch,
bony fish we didn’t like eating but insisted our mother cook because we had caught them ourselves and otherwise their sacrifice was meaningless.
City kids, those summers reminded us that we were animals, with animal appetites, curious and cruel, made of bone and muscle and nerve
the way the land was made of rocks and trees and water.