As Much As You Possibly Can


At the Agway in town I buy cat dewormer and make conversation with the middle-aged woman at the register. She’s wearing a Great White concert tee, so of course I ask her about that, and she reels off a list of all the shows she’s going to this summer – Skid Row, Pat Benatar, Loverboy, I think maybe Dokken, or maybe it’s someone else, those 80’s era hair bands sort of run together for me – and then she tells me that she got tickets for her daughter, too, and I can see in her eyes how much this means to her, and for a moment I imagine the two of them pumping their fists and singing along with Sebastian Bach.

“Thanks, hon,” she says when I leave with my dewormer, which I’m going to stuff down the skinny cats’ throat to see if maybe it’s worms that’s making him look so small, though it could just be age and the inevitable diminishment it visits upon us all. It’s been a very long time since anyone’s called me “hon,” and I have to admit that I sort of like it. I mean, in this day and age you can imagine a person being offended by it and yet at the same time it seems to me as if the world would be a poorer place without middle-aged woman in Great White concert tees calling their dewormer-purchasing customers “hon.”

Driving home, it’s all new-mown hayfields and wind-tossed trees, the undersides of their leaves slivery against the sky. The ribbon of gravel road like being carried on a mud-brown river. Coming out of the corners, rocks ping off the underside of the car. I know that sound like the sound of my own breath. All these years of dirt road driving, all these years of them taking me just where I need to go.

The road begins to climb. The car shifts down, the engine surges. The smell of summer is pouring through the open window, and I want to tell you what it smells like, but I can’t. It just smells like summer, the way rain smells like rain, the way snow smells like snow. The way you want to just slow down and breathe in as much as you possibly can.

I really enjoyed this conversation with Ada Limón. You might, too.


It Does Feel Good

Cat. In a cart.

In the early evening I drive far north to the small town of Canaan to pick up a pair of used tires for the truck. It’s a long drive, pretty much as far as one can travel in a northerly direction from our home and not end up in another country. The evening is stupendously beautiful, the air silky soft and warm, the landscape so lushly green it feels almost as if the color itself could bear my weight. I turn onto a road I’ve never driven before, a long, winding ribbon of pavement that passes lakes and moose swamps and mobile homes and forests so thick I get a sense of foreboding. There are long stretches unmarred by human habitation, then the remnants of old farms, then a village too small to sustain even a gas pump. For many miles, I follow a man on a Harley, one of those models that places your feet way out in front of your body, so that it basically looks like you’re floating down the road in a La-Z-Boy. I’ve got the windows to the car wide open and I can hear the rat-a-tat thudding of the Harley’s engine. I could get a motorcycle, I think. I could ride for miles with my feet in front of me. I could lean into the corners just the way he’s leaning into them. It must feel so good.

I buy the tires from a very nice man with a lot of tattoos, then I turn back and drive the same route home. I’m pleased with my purchase. I’m pleased to be driving in the slow-fading light, past the done-in farms and the small villages, through the forests so thick I get a sense of foreboding. I’ve still got my windows down, and the air is rushing in, and I noticed that my feet, while maybe not quite as far in front of my body as the feet of the man on the Harley were in front of his body, are actually pretty far out there. I tilt the seat back just a bit, and I let my body lean into the next corner, and then the one after that, and you know what? I was right: It does feel good.