Every August just as the heat seemed to ooze out of the river bottom, my grandmother would decide that it was time to drive to Galveston to admire the oleanders. Now, those same brilliant fuchsia blossoms were all over Liberty, but something about the drive made the flowers more lush and appealing.
To my memory, those lazy days with my grandmother had an odd bittersweet quality. I later learned that the Japanese have a word for such a feeling, natsukashii. Not precisely pathos, but more an appreciation of beauty heightened and saddened by an awareness of its evanescence.
From Baby, I learned to love and be astonished by the familiar. The luxury of an unmade bed, the richness of an aluminum canister glowing in the morning sun. The surprise of a mockingbird’s feather on the ground. Small signs of humanity that – at the right moment, in a certain light – show us the beauty and elegance of the ordinary.