but you were my favorite thing, little bird

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     The sharp surprise of cilantro in a Mexican taco. Naturally red hair. The flash of a dimpled grin from a cute stranger. The smell of a bookstore. A sideways glance. The green-yellow opalescence of a summer thunderstorm. Spirea blooms. Thumb-sized bumblebees. A murmuration of swallows, riding the river thermals at dusk. Cornering a Tacoma hill and stumbling onto a view of the Puget Sound, framed by a riot of fuchsia rhododendrons and ferns the size of cars. The hushed, quiet glory of evergreen cathedrals in White Pines State Park. The jolting blue of an October sky. The opening bass riff of the Breeder’s “Cannonball” on the car radio on a summer morning. Singing along to Built to Spill’s “Carry the Zero” as the watery winter-morning light snakes around passing buildings and beams periodically through the car windows.

     Sitting around a campfire, drinking beer and poking sparks out of the embers. Watching the Red Green show on the couch, windows open to catch the summer breeze, while the rest of the world does a Saturday night properly. The peachy-pink of a spring sunrise. Lens flare. Walking through overgrown pioneer cemeteries. Watching a mountain thunderstorm roll out, only to be replaced by a rainbow that spans the valley and ends somewhere in the treetops on either side. Purple Arizona sunsets. Finding the spot where the Gulf of Mexico blue becomes Atlantic Ocean green. Black dolphins arcing through the water on their way to paradise. Lighthouses standing sentry on Minnesota cliffs. Blood-red harvest moons, rising over the prairie.

     Foxes that leap across the railroad tracks and leave a blaze of red as they lope through the snow. Wheeling eagles, circling over the treetops. Herons gliding towards the river. Walking the alleys of Old West Lawrence when the honeysuckle’s in bloom. Hexagonal bathroom tile. Faded advertisements on the sides of buildings. Mennonite bake sales. Robin eggs in surprise nests. The crooked tail of a Siamese cat. The wavy glass of old house windows. Deep front porches. The rubbery smell of bowling shoes and rented skates. Riding the Paratrooper at the county fair. The stomach-flipping, suspension-testing hills only found on two-lane highways. Exploring abandoned buildings. Ghost towns. Old high school yearbooks. Flowers growing up through sidewalk cracks.

     Cityscape photos from the early 20th-century. Drinking coffee out of an ancient, chipped, Devil’s Lake State Park mug. Sea otters. River otters. A beady-eyed old buddy, chosen from a long-ago Kmart shelf. An old truth in a new song. The tiny knock of a baby bird’s heart, warm fluff in the palm of a tender hand. A deafening sing-along of 3,000 new friends. Fireflies throwing sparks in the summer thunder’s heat.

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