Pelican, cormorant, egret—the names all run together after a certain point, sound more like Crissy Field Beachprisons or college sports teams than birds, and Natalie’s inclination to be polite and continue to pretend she sees one when it is pointed out to her is slowly eroded by a brewing resentment that she should have to make the effort, that it is expected, taken for granted that she will “behave.” Underneath the resistance, Natalie is interested, because this is the kind of knowledge that could be useful, fun to drop even, given the right opportunity—say, a college admissions interview or a date (someday) with a guy unlike any she has ever met at Woodbridge High—but right now it is more important to make another point: while her dad appears to be moving on, as so many people have told him he must (witness the current edge-water hike with Linda Bolvin—who always smiled way too much, even before losing her friend to cancer), Natalie is just beginning to have the feeling she can emerge from the emotional muck, so isn’t it enough that she came, that she did not refuse this outing as she has refused two others; must she also reassure them that not only is she OK but also she is OK with them, with their holding hands, their walking on ahead?


IMG_3245Last week I found some coffee beans in the cupboard. I had bought them a month earlier for a friend who came to brunch. I gave up coffee long ago but ground them, brewed them, and savored the drink, a delicious memory of the visit. A few days ago I bought some more beans and I have been chasing that elusive taste to the bottom of the cup ever since.