Chapter 1. Natural signs


The shape of air abandoned in a meadow is different for a rabbit or a cat. The turning of a blade of grass. A leaf brushed free of dust. A leaf pressed into soil. A nibble, a rub, a feather, a hair. The shape of its scat. The pattern of its track. These are signs we share this patch of earth with other creatures.


Our oily fingers leave prints; we constantly shed hairs and dead skin cells; our clumsy and messy bodies break and abandon things. Outside, it’s a good thing nature cleans up after us. Breezes and rains dilute our debris, and the soil slowly builds up.

Her scent

If she were to wear perfume, it would be no more clear. Her aromatics follow her. Lucky dogs, to be able to follow her path left in the air because she’d been there.


Everything we tell a child about thunder is wrong, but that makes it all the better. After lightning comes the storm. The old man has bumped his head and lies in bed a-snoring.

Branches are tossing

Branches are tossing leaves across the yard. Around here, this means a storm is blowing in. If you were on the shore and watching the waves, you’d see white caps, rough water. You’ll want to pull the clothes off the line, close the windows, and anthropomorphize the wind.


They say you can’t help it. Your face betrays you.