If, on an afternoon in midsummer, I happen to find myself near a small lake or pond, opening like earth’s blue eye before me, and then catch a whiff of the water’s clean mineral scent, overlaid with algae and mixed with the head-clearing resin of white pine, all of it intensified, cooked by sunlight, I am instantly transported to . . .
In western Virginia, there is a house, over a century old . . . Near the junction of Colorado’s Dolores and the San Miguel rivers, downstream from granite sided mountains and alkaline basins, there rests a small rainwater pool at the foot of a steep sandstone cliff. To find this pool, the traveler must . . .
Since we’ve been doing it for a long time, humans are adept at pattern recognition. This ability to make sense of seemingly random blotches and dots has been crucial to our survival and success as a species. For instance . . .
That first morning I came early to the Salt Palace Convention Center, feeling a college-kid mix of excitement and intimidation. I was new to the land trust movement, and there was so much to learn, so much land to save. The first exhibit I saw didn’t ease my mind. It advertised conservation legal services, and the lawyer setting up the booth handed me a button that said “Perpetuity, Dammit.” I laughed a little, from ignorance, I suppose . . .
“You have to leave,” a middle-aged woman who looks to be doing janitorial work says . . .
It’s a chilly October night in our small Ohio town: perfect football weather. The stands are full and the air is foggy under the lights. The marching band stands at attention in two ranks, one in each end zone, with the drummers positioned on the fifty-yard line. Everyone is waiting for me . . .
Police the area,” my father told my two younger sisters and me as he handed us a paper bag and pointed to the backyard. We were living on an American army base south of Munich during the Cold War . . .
The German language is an army of words. You know, one word stands for a whole battalion of words in English. Words like Zeitgeist—say, well, that’s the spirit of the age that lights us up. You can imagine the entire population as eyes in a cave, watching a screen where all of us say . . .
Brian Michael Barbeito
It’s a place most would avoid. Rueful. Not outright malevolent but quickly lurid. There is nothing sexy there, certainly no ergonomic chairs or lots, no hardwood floors or large entrances. The only stained windows are actually stained with oil, grime, grease, and some gritty heavy vibration not provable but quite present. I, however, always thought there was something alluring, some truth to be found. I had been around those parts off and on for years. Characters. That is what one met there, characters. Men who . . .
It is the end of January, and all the Christmas cards have finally arrived, the last one just a week ago. There would be no more. So early on a brilliant sunny afternoon I began going through them, looking and remembering. I expected to spend an hour being charmed one last time before consigning most of them to the wastebasket. But I had not counted on what listening to George Winston’s December would do to the deep wellsprings of memory as I held each card before my eyes one last time . . .
It was 5:30 in the morning in the ER and this doctor was explaining the gall bladder to me, drawing pictures in blue pen on the bed sheet . . .
Miriam Mandel Levi
I am a trusting sort. When the weatherman forecasts rain, I take an umbrella. When a mayoral candidate promises to build speed bumps on my street to slow traffic, I vote for him. I sincerely believe that the new, improved Bran Flakes will taste better. Sure, I’m disappointed at times, but I don’t lose faith. Trusting as I am, though, I draw the line at anti-aging cosmetics. I just don’t believe those creams reverse the effects of aging, reduce wrinkles, or . . .
The first time I met Dave Russell he may have been shirtless with a cowboy hat, swaggering between tents at a music festival, a little high and drunker than he appeared . . .
At first I thought it was odd that the main door of the orphanage opened into the laundry room. There was no ambiance. There was no welcome, the sense one gets on entering someone’s home and being immediately greeted by a warm interior. But soon I realized why the laundry room is . . .
Cheryl Strayed starts Part Five of Wild with a quotation from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?”
“Hush,” my father says, “hush, hush.” I go under again, hush the same sound as the water rushing into my ears, hushhush. Underwater I open my eyes . . .
I hit my daughter. Once. Hard. She was almost three and had been . . .
One recent evening, my kids in bed, the toys put away, the dishwasher loaded, I read a New Yorker article about quantum computing. The physics professor who gave me my only C in college would be surprised to learn that I voluntarily stayed up late to learn about quantum mechanics, absorbing author Rivka Galchen’s words under my bedside lamp. She explained that two particles can be related. Entangled particles, as they are called, can share information that an observer cannot perceive. The particles can perform this operation even when they are far away from one another. Galchen describes that information as their “collective secret.” Friends share secrets, first as children, then adults. The particles in our bodies share them, too, even when we stop holding hands, even when . . .