Allison Wallace




Some spring mornings, I pull a stool up near one of my hives to wait for the first bee to shake off her lethargy and step outside, eager to begin her day. And I may think then of Annie Dillard, finding what she called pennies from heaven in the furl of a mockingbird's wing, or in the greening of the spring grass. I think of Mary Austin back at the turn of the twentieth century, laying out her bedroll in the desert Southwest desert sage, next to a campfire, taking notes in its flickering light and falling asleep to the distant keening of wolves. I think of this huge continent of ours, with many pockets of arresting interest and impossible beauty still left to it, and of all the American citizens therein who get around on four legs or six, or no legs at all, the finned ones plying dark waters, the feathered ones bright shafts of air and light; who do not (as Whitman said) whine about their condition, even if we've given them plenty of reason to, with our ill manners, our thoughtlessness, our rapacity. I think of a particular stretch of beach I know well, and of a dusky swamp I used to paddle around in with my old canoe, where a prehistorically strange great blue heron suffered my steady gaze one evening for a solid hour, while it went about its silent spear-fishing. And wonder to myself, what have I seen, why have I seen it, what does it mean.