I Was Born to Live in a Café

After attending a 2018 opening of a retrospective exhibit in which one hundred pieces created by native Rhode Islander and internationally known artist, Morris Nathanson, were on display, we headed to a local restaurant to chat about the exhibit in the afterglow of its opening. His body of work—paintings, wood block prints, “found art” assemblages, and drawings—filled two rooms at a spacious gallery. The exhibited works reached back to 1955, the earliest a pen and ink watercolor, Funeral in Tatco.

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Going to Work

The day Jason got orders for Iraq, I was teaching night school in Nashville, which meant leaving Clarksville around four-thirty. He wouldn’t muster until evening, so I left the house first. Framed by the doorway, he waved goodbye wearing his battle dress uniform, BDU’s—now khaki for the desert—as I got in the Pontiac and drove away. He had the empty house.

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Into the Wind

Out for a drive, my wife Julie and I traveled across the open, rolling Illinois countryside under turbulent December skies that seemed almost like a painting by one of the great masters: high billowy mountains of white and gray, constantly changing shape, reflecting the late afternoon sunlight in deep yellows, nearly orange in places, and mostly heavy with water vapor, and then not. Every once in a while we could see

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Pyro Days

When I was a kid, my friends and I often played with matches and, by extension, fire. We had ready access to everything we needed. The adults made that easy. Many of them smoked, so matches were easily found, and taken, from most kitchen cupboards. And the garages in our suburban Detroit neighborhood contained all kinds of flammable liquids, like cans of gasoline, kerosene, or paint thinner, not to mention actual lighter fluid. In those days, the mid-1960s, most parents were comfortably oblivious about what their kids were up to. “Go outside and play,” they’d say. So we did—with matches and things that would burn.

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Developmental Milestones

There’s been extensive research into “the role of the father in child development,” including a 656-page academic albatross by that title that’s currently in its fifth edition. But what about the role of the child in a father’s development? Emily certainly played a significant role in mine.

By the time she was two years old, she had figured out how to run around, eat her own food, and communicate with and without words. Her worries were few and quickly forgotten—a real mark of maturity.

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Here’s the history of life as we know it. First came single-cell organisms around 4.1 billion years ago in hydrothermal vents, many scientists say, deep in the ocean. About 600 million years later came multi-cellular organisms. Hundreds of millions of years after came the earliest animals. Hundreds of millions of years after that came the ancestors of modern humans. Perhaps there’s a fragment somewhere in my DNA that remembers my unicellular origin, remembers when my ancient relatives propelled through the sea engulfing nutrients. Is that why I am hypnotized by the ocean?

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Dewey Lane

Redwood trees surround the three-acre lot on all sides. Sun streams through the leaves, beams of light in the fog. In the orchard, branches hang heavy with plums, pears, crabapples. Locusts buzz, doves coo, and birds of prey flap their heavy wings. The oppressive humidity fills my sinuses, giving me the sensation that I’m underwater.

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