Monday, September 02, 2013

Our Foreign Cousin

The family gathered, but I wasn't sure we were actually going to Burning Man. I left them at the hotel and went to check it out. The temporary city was in a different setting than before, hidden in the trees at the bottom of a valley. Halfway down the wide gravel entrance road I saw the smoke. I'd heard that a smoke was one of the major art effects this year. It was thick, white, dense, rolling slowly through the trees, filling in between and hiding them. I wasn't at all sure we wanted to breathe it, Carol especially, and anyway I was dubious about all the walking around because of my hip. I drove down to the bottom and sniffed the air ahead of the smoke, which smelled faintly of incense. Turning around to leave, I was alarmed to discover that my car almost couldn't make it back up the steep road. It crawled in first gear, the engine barely turning over fast enough to keep going, with no power to accellerate. If it stalled I would never be able to get it going again. I was even pushing with my feet, at least in my mind. Imagine my relief when we crawled over the top onto level ground! I went back to the hotel, where everybody was getting hungry and wanted to go to the Olive Garden. Someone had brought an angel food cake, which our foreign cousin took upon himself to slice and serve onto little plates. I tasted a crumb. It was sweet with that special angel food flavor, probably delicious with the lemon sauce. It seemed a peculiar time to be eating cake, though, just before going out to dinner. I didn't want to spoil my somewhat uncertain appetite so I didn't indulge. My uneaten slice looked forlorn sitting on the table by itself. I was impressed that our foreign cousin was so aware of each one of us, quite unlike myself, that he had cut exactly the right number of slices.

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