|Seascape by JMW Turner|
During one of his waistline-preserving walks, Mr. Apotienne wondered how any of the explorers, any of the immigrants, ever came to settle the country's mid-section, his mind fusing in cellular memory with hardy antecedants who first arrived at these or similar shallow-bayed coastlines. Never having lived anywhere from which he could not reach an ocean in less than half a day's drive, he felt his throat tighten as though clogged with with dust bowl topsoil. In his mind's eye that vastness that stretched to the horizon was not white-capped salt water but the prairie, for which he knew himself accutely unsuited. He would have made poor company on a wagon train, whimpering his grief as others tried to sleep, not as much afraid of what might surround them as from a homesickness that he knew would never diminish. From his capacious coat he extracted a postcard, a seascape oil by Turner from the Tate, found tucked within his current volume of borrowed oratory. I carry the ocean in my pocket, he thought, or it finds me, insistent as the tattooed name of a long-ago love.
As he mused almost to the point of brooding about being landlocked, exiled from the shore, especially this shore, Gloria chopped wild mushrooms for a late afternoon soup, a flavorful and warming choice, she though. Something out of the ordinary. Had she formed the plan earlier, she could have mentioned it to The Reading Man, or set before him the tent-fold placard announcement. She'd considered the mushrooms for a quiche but could smell and taste the creamy sherry and thyme base which a previous patron had said she would like to swim in. Perhaps she would hold some back for tomorrow and offer it to The Reading Man. It would only improve with a few hours' chance for the flavors to blend. And it felt important for him to try some. She was not familiar with the belief that the best spells are not ones we concoct but those which are dropped by fairy hands into willing hearts and minds.