The next day, there was still more cake as if it propagated overnight or at the very least, hung around for another celebration.
Twice a day she shuffled outside and set the flag in its place on the front porch. I happened to peer out the window when she put the flag out in the morning and noticed the stars and stripes snap in the wind. I went back to reading the day’s headlines: Russia offered more military supplies to Syria and a new record pressing plant opened in New Jersey. We circled back to where we came from.
Thin eggplant slices fried in the skillet while I chopped tomatoes, onions, and a jalapeno for salsa. In another pan, onions caramelized next to crispy skinned potatoes. As usual, I remembered my grandmother’s kitchen at breakfast time when she fried potatoes with onions and peppers alongside a pan of scrambled eggs. After the breakfast dishes were rinsed my Cousin, Aunt, and I walked down the dirt road next to their house where the trees grew thick and the river lay flat.
I read chapter after chapter of Hold Still before and after dinner. Sally Mann’s haunting black and white images of the Southern landscape had been in my mind for weeks. I imagined her driving an 8 x 10 view camera down back roads of a Suburban as she drove from Virginia down to Mississippi and Alabama. The collodion wet plate process was a painstaking one that required a mobile darkroom packed with ether so potent not to mention explosive she kept the windows down and wheels out of potholes.
Evening came with a patter of cool rain that fell around us like a heartbeat. The church bells rang down the hill enveloping the street with a soft echo. It was my favorite kind of night and I thought about making popcorn and reading a few pages of Tumble Home, but stayed put with the cat curled up on the couch.
It wasn’t until after dinner when the sky lit up like a summer peach that the heat finally broke. I lay flat on the kitchen floor with the cool tile pressed against my back watching the curtains billow in a slight breeze and the light press through. Then I warmed the oven to bake a loaf of bread and thought about how much I’d miss it all months from now.