Rendered Fat Content


Hashimoto Okiie: Quiet Evening (1958)

"Once they're here, they're gone."

By late afternoon, the cats emerge from their moist shady lairs to make their way toward the back deck. If she's back from her day campaigning, the Muse shows up at about the same time. I'm already there waiting for this moment. I find the food and set out the cats' dinner. The Muse and I take to our chairs and survey the yard. She might wander back to check her tomato plants and cucumbers. Stink bugs have infested her tomatoes, and we're trying to chase them away with diatomaceous earth. We have yet to succeed. We ease into another VelveteenEvening.

I might set up the sprinkler, a considerable undertaking: moving hoses and figuring angles.
The steady beat of the sprinkler provides the cadence for conversation. The cats have relocated from the kitchen to the back deck and insist upon their supper being served there. The whole family gathers in the gathering shadows to recount their day in the hours before our dinner will be ready. It's usually after eight before we're settled enough to eat. We have lengthy preparations and dare not rush them: tomatoes to dress, cucumbers to cut, and beans to stem. I set one of the stock pots to boil.

These interminable days eventually give way to these VelveteenEvenings. They make the days worthwhile. We open the windows wide to let the breeze blow out the stifling air accumulated upstairs. This old place was designed to be opened in the evenings. The double-hung windows clunk and clang as we slide them open. We set fans in the windows to get the air moving. We won't run air conditioning overnight. Crickets sound as if they've moved inside after the sun sets. The papers on my desktop get redistributed by the incoming breeze. I sort through my tot lists again before forgetting to weigh them down again. This house was built into a world that knew and used paperweights and needed to. We follow back to its roots. Once the sun fades, it might just as well be nineteen-seven again, except for the traffic sounds—the pond gurgles in delight.

VelveteenEvenings give way to Velveteen Nights, which flow into Velveteen Mornings before first light. I stand on the back deck in the dark, clapping my hands, hoping to convince Molly to come home for a bite of breakfast. Max follows me everywhere in the early morning, insisting upon tromping on my keyboard, stretching himself out and seemingly over the sill beneath the open window sash. I cannot watch. He seems so casual watching the neighborhood slumber, stiffening when his nemesis cat, "Tuxedo," passes through the shadows. I seize up, too, knowing I'm only passing through here. Not even an endless summer lasts forever. Every Velveteen Morning eventually turns into a rush of windows closing as the sun creeps where it doesn't belong. The following afternoon will start seeming overlong before another VelveteenEvening follows. Once they're here, they're gone.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver