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(Painting by Liza Ezhevskaya)

Like a perfectly preserved skeleton between two sheets of sedimentary rock, the memory stands crisp before me.

It is late November. We are driving across the cold, austere landscape of northern Missouri. The two-lane highway runs straight into the horizon, and a prickly sea of haze extends in all directions.

It seems as if all of the colors of winter lie hidden under a dusty gray. Grayish green firs, grayish blue sky. Grayish brown earth and grayish opaque water frozen in the gullies. On the background of gray the rusted red hues of tree trunks, train cars and abandoned factories emerge. The drive is fast and yet we are moving nowhere, because that is how things are in the Midwest. There is no rush. There is nowhere to be.

I look out the window and see the telephone lines dip down, and move up with every pole that we pass. Down…up, down…up. The simple and steady rhythm of existence slowed for the winter months. Somewhere smoke pours lazily from a chimney. Somewhere from a smoke stack. Here there is no glitz, no glamour, no promise.

Here the landscape has incorporated human structures, which may stay unperturbed for decades, centuries.

Affected by the surroundings, thoughts slow down as well. You begin to see sap flowing slowly down tree trunks. You hear the crows. Your heart contracts with forgotten emotion. You want to weep peacefully, and think amorphous thoughts.

Out on the Bay today the warm dampness enveloped me like never before.

It was swelty and cloudy and the wind sailed the white puffs across a gray sky. Water in front of me and behind, we were on a peninsula of sorts, with lush green tropical fertility bursting lazinly all around us.

A gust of wind bringing honeysuckle air and a snapshot of my black sandals mixed with the wet and evaporating sunscreen lotion aroma  in just the right proportions, and suddenly I was back.

Back in the Midwest, in the vast expanse of green and brown pulsating and exhaling all around me. I remembered Current River, Hawn State Park, clear streams and the Big Muddy, floating down the Potomac, even, watching the current wash around my arm draped over the black rubber of the innertube and into the transparent water as I glided downstream.

The power of recolleciton was overbearing.

I gave into its pull.

Remembered Cornerstone, with the silty lake and the inpenetratable vegetation on the other side, remembered the sun, remembered bliss. Joy. Laying on the verdent earth and feeling it breath beneth me, I thought big and amorphous thoughts that go without words. They flow over and through you in a single emotion and you don’t know: to laugh? to cry? to sigh and just let it? Everything inside tingles and you want to fly. Grow wings – strong and sturdy, and fly…

Just then, a tinkerbell voice called out, with her strawberry goldilock curls, beaming smile, “Maaaama!”

I flew.

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