I have decided that acorns are the most beautiful thing. I have started a collection. A survey. Oak trees of the sprawling Piedmont. It used to be so beautiful here. I gather them by the handful, now, wherever I find them. Fat, long, dusted with a sort of wax. Caps fallen off or at a jaunty angle. Nature’s little wooden nuggets.
“You should make a satchel,” said Kimber. “and wear it. With a little pocket for each acorn. Your collection.”
We’re squatting on the golden sand, a wet handful of sand, at the edge of the woods. Before us is a lake, clear with drifting clouds of murk, calm and warm, growing colder. In spite of it all, we have found some woods, and a lake. We bicycled an hour to get to these woods. That’s right, I said bicycled. It used to be, everyone rode bikes, and you just said ‘biked’. But now I feel like I have to explain. Un-abbreviate the abbreviation.
The forest is beautiful, like nobody comes here, like cold water after a long bike ride. The oak leaves are falling, the bank of the lake is mossy. The sun is long, the air is cool. We fall flat on our bellies and pick the forest floor apart with bits of twigs. We find two halves of a nut, little wooden boats. Find a bit of quartz, a tiny closed flower, a fish scale. We put these things in the boats. I tell Kimber about how I read Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and now I look longer at very small things.
“I know Annie Dillard’s kid,” says Kimber.
“Yeah, me too,” I say. Annie Dillard’s kid is sort of one of us. Mid twenties, queer, overly romantic. Hitch-hikes, if you can believe it. Annie Dillard’s kid is a poet. “I’m glad I’m not a poet.” I say.
“Yeah,” says Kimber, vaguely.
When it’s time to go we squat on the sand and push our boats out into the lake. So tiny, they fail to break the surface tension on the water. We prod them out with sticks. Kimber drops a fallen leaf in the lake and the color of it shines against the mud bottom, the rosy quartz there. Like lemons, sunrise, fire. Burning citrus at dawn. Safety orange, I have found you. I needed only to wait.