I like drainage ditches overflowing with wild natives, like common milkweed, and dogwood, and bergamot, and goldenrod. I found my first monarch butterfly caterpillars on the milkweed that grew in the ditch in front of my parents' house. I reared one, on leaves I plucked daily, in a Styrofoam cup, until it became a chrysalis. Then I lost or threw away the cup, I can't remember. It was many years before I ever collected another living bug, I felt so bad about how that attempt with the monarch butterfly turned out, endangered as they were, or were in my mind, I thought I was helping the creature but in reality it had better chances where it was found. I've never wanted to collect bugs, anyway, and go through the trauma of the kill jar and the pin board. I'm happy to have chance encounters in the garden, or in the woods, or even in the basement where several cobweb weavers live, and put on terrifying display the wild assortment of insects that live in our homes unseen except as corpses beneath a spider's web. The variety is astonishing.
I like corner stores, carry-outs, you might say, with a path well-trod in the linoleum or concrete floors, painted red or brown, from the front door with its electronic bell ringing to the beer cooler with its cases of Busch Light or Bud Light, where you'll find the roofers or landscapers after work with their pay checks to cash and spend on beer and cartons of cigarettes for the weekend. I stole a comic book from the carryout down the road from my parents' house. I road my bike there. I took "Guardians of the Galaxy", issue #1, by Jim Valentino and someone else, I don't know. It's bagged and boarded and organized in a longbox with several thousand other comics, each one procured in the standard manner. When I started working as a landscaper, our crew stopped there in the morning for cigarettes, snacks, lighters, some kind of microwavable breakfast food, and again later in the day for more cigarettes, bottles of water, six-packs of something to drink after work.
Though I prefer wilderness laid out according to Mother Nature's whim, I do like to see long green rows of winter wheat in the fields outside of Ida, where I live. One I pass frequently, on the east side of Lewis Ave., is patrolled by a male kestrel, who perches on utility poles and wires, and glares at furrows, long grass, or bare branches, gleaning morsels only his eyes, never mine, can see.
I like manila envelopes with metal closures, I like business size white envelopes that I have to lick to seal, and I like to draw on brown wrapping paper, brown paper grocery sacks, and the inner brown paper lining of the 50 lbs. flour sacks we get at the pizza place where I work. I rip a bag open and salvage the unsullied middle, which simply reinforces the whole bag, and I fold it into books, or envelopes, or fill an entire piece with crayon drawings for my son.
My son sings a song that goes like this: "This is Halloween, this is Halloween!", he repeats it over and over, deepening his voice, and hunching his shoulders so that his chin is in his chest. He's trying to be scary. You might be surprised to know that he's never watched 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' even though his song is quite like Halloween song from the movie. Kids, right? I guess they just know stuff. He also learned some of the words to 'Frosty the Snowman', 'O, Christmas Tree', and 'Let it Snow', and he sang them over and over again throughout the season, bringing great joy to all who heard him. He also sings along to his They Might Be Giants videos, his sister's Taylor Swift albums, and Justin Beiber songs, too. According to his mom he also likes Lady Gaga songs. I'm glad that he likes TMBG, because they're my favorite musicians, but I also like that his favorite songs are not my favorite songs. I also like to know that he has his tastes, though I feel I must intervene just a little, by providing him with more jazz, Bob Dylan, and other singer-songwriter type music, because honestly, pop music is for the birds.
I like to hear many voices singing in unison.
I like the papery warmth of my grandmother's cheek, and a kiss on her cheek takes me back to the happiest moments of my childhood.
I like stacks of books on shelves made of planks and cinder blocks, or milk crates full of paperbacks. I like the congested stacks and aisles of a used bookstore, the shelves crammed to bursting, the books swelling from hours and days of being read and soaking our essential oils into their pages, expanding as we do during this critical exchange called reading.
I like the words 'crotch', 'underpants', 'leaf litter', 'fat', 'peach', 'dirty', 'book', 'drainage ditch', 'pond', 'woman', 'glitter', 'small', 'fuck', 'grit', 'mollusk', 'cephalopod', 'courtship', 'incarnadine'; I like the Latin names of plants and animals and memorized 50 insects names for the fun of it one summer. I made flashcards and learned them during slow times at work or at red lights.
I like to read at red lights.
I like how my step-daughter's laugh, the real outburst, has the same nature as light, it's both particle and wave, it has dimension, it makes me think of rainbows and bells chiming in magical worlds.
I like when I see you find your way into a favorite book, and you open it just anywhere and read from there, or when you re-read a chapter you've just finished for clarity, or comfort, or I don't know why, maybe so the book lasts longer.
I like to find yellowing receipts and grocery lists between pages of books I buy at second hand bookstores or library sales. I especially love it when the receipt I find comes from Thackeray's Books, a local, beloved bookstore that closed some years ago when a Borders opened in Toledo. And now Borders is gone, too. Assholes.
I like your hair, the creative ways you style it, the way it smells like you even if it's washed, or after you come home from work. Even on the days you don't like the look of it, your hair is the epitome of femininity.
I like your sweet, round belly, and putting my hand on it and snuggling into you, or feeling it pressed against my own stomach in a tight embrace. Our son was made in there somewhere, and I treasure your body for making him so perfect, and beautiful, and healthy.