Blog : Beautiful-Things

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Inheritance

Inheritance By Beth Howard   |  May 25, 2015
My father loved a good roaring fire and attended the ones he built with great reverence, as if viewing a cremation. But, after all, he knew his wood. In his 70s, dad bought a gas-powered log splitter and would perch on a stump for hours, loading one log after another, pulling the lever to engage the iron wedge, which descended with a crushing force to split the logs.

Taking an Art Class

Taking an Art Class By Kelley Rossier   |  May 18, 2015
We are given a project to do. Here are the parameters. Lines parallel. Lines perpendicular. Clear relationships. Mass, plane, line. No diagonals. I put the safety glasses on. I cut the wood. I use the joiner. I plane the wood. I glue the pieces together. I use clamps on every side. Make sure there is no give.

Tiny Purple Flowers

Tiny Purple Flowers By Sarah Broderick   |  May 11, 2015
My mother stands at the grocery store counter. Tiny purple flowers rest tucked behind her ear. They have wilted as we walked through the aisles, comparing prices per ounce and coupons to sales. Now, the flower petals are withered balls of lint. They droop down on spindly stems as dry and thin as discarded threads. "Isn't my mommy pretty?" I say. I plucked those lavender stars, clusters that sprout from the cow pies that litter our fields, especially for her.

Road Warrior

Road Warrior By Kim Todd   |  May 4, 2015
Someday, the newspaper photographer told me as we drove back from the fire, he was going to do a photo essay on all those raptors along the highway. "All the what?" I asked. But just like that, they were everywhere.

First Walk

First Walk By Lisa Hadden   |  April 27, 2015
It is my first walk in the woods, four months after the accident. I insisted. Cautiously hiking the old deer run behind our house, my husband stops, and holds me in a bear hug; chest to chest, heart to heart. This is his way of wordlessly expressing his concern for me on this blustery, wintry January evening in Michigan.

A Walk on Wooded Isle

A Walk on Wooded Isle By Stephanie Friedman   |  April 20, 2015
Spring had been so long in coming. At last tree buds, gray-green and plump, were braving the frigid sunshine. I had left my office in only a thin windbreaker, with just my keycard in my pocket, my cold hands clasping the cuffs of my sleeves. I had intended to circuit the Japanese garden--gravel path, half-moon bridge, stepping stones across the dry pond--then go back to work. Instead I pressed on into the less kempt part of the park.

Fearless Eye

Fearless Eye By Robin Schauffler   |  April 13, 2015
I sat on the plank deck of a house in the forest and shared my watercolors and brushes with my nine-year-old nephew. I painted the chestnut-colored ponderosa pines with their puzzle-piece bark. I painted the blue morning sky and white clouds. My nephew said, "I want to paint that sunset we saw last night!"

Surf Check

Surf Check By Heather Hansman   |  April 6, 2015
November on the coast. Cracking cold and painfully clear. We cram 12 of us in a one-bed cabin on the Quileute reservation, not caring about personal space or what is whose. In the morning we're up as soon as the sun starts to slide its slow half-circle around the horizon. It feels like you can see to Japan if your eyelashes don't freeze shut first. We pour weak coffee, put on puffies, and scramble stiff-legged over the driftwood toward the break.

Letter to a Ladle (Stainless Steel, $18.99, Purchased Three Years Ago)

Letter to a Ladle (Stainless Steel, $18.99, Purchased Three Years Ago) By Matthew Olzmann   |  March 30, 2015
How glorious: the invention of soup! How stunning: the invention of fire to heat the soup! I've watched the water boil. I've witnessed my wife and her designs of scallions and carrots. I've studied the smell of garlic and cayenne pepper. It filled our hallways with the history of our families. Not once--Dear Ladle--did you fail to do the one thing you do.

Highway 13

Highway 13 By Diana Spechler   |  March 23, 2015
"Time after Time" played on the radio, static through icy Colorado. I wished I loved the man I was driving toward the way Cyndi Lauper loved someone once.

Fireflies

Fireflies By Jody Keisner   |  March 16, 2015
Up in the air are hundreds of fireflies, like scattering sunlight. We—me and the man I've been seeing—pedal our bicycles through dusk on the Keystone Trail in eastern Nebraska. Neighborhood playgrounds and thickets of trees line either side of the cement pathway.

Grace

Grace By Aaron J. Housholder   |  March 9, 2015
"Thank you," I tell the manager, "for taking my order so late." The sizzle of the grill frames my words. "I appreciate it." "Not at all," he says. Sweat curls his hair. "Is a good time. We’re still open."

Red Wings

Red Wings By Iris Graville   |  March 2, 2015
A familiar sound breaks through the morning quiet as my dog and I head out for our usual walk alongside a rocky beach and the marsh that drains into it. Without even looking up, I recognize the rhythmic thwap, thwap, thwap overhead. It’s from the main rotor blade of a helicopter, airlifting someone from the rural island where I live to an emergency room on the mainland.

Army

Army By Ron Riekki   |  February 23, 2015
In southern Spain, in the military, in December, I once danced in a field of sunflowers. Or not danced, so much as sang.

Motorcycle Riders

Motorcycle Riders By Liza Jagoda Allen   |  February 16, 2015
On the back of your motorcycle, somewhere between Leadville and Castle Rock, I plan our future together as we ride along jagged eggshell cliffs overlooking canyons whose gaping mouths open to swallow anything that falls.

Bananas

Bananas By Melissa Cronin   |  February 9, 2015
While I eat lunch with my father today, he stares at the bunch of bananas in front of him. "They're so beautiful," he says. "They're so yellow." He smiles, then giggles. Who is this man?

Catching Snowflakes

Catching Snowflakes By Colleen Warren   |  February 2, 2015
I remember childhood school days, just learning about the singularity of snowflakes, no two alike, the teacher said. At home, my sisters and I duplicated her classroom experiment, substituting white paper rubbed thick and waxy with black crayon for the black construction paper she had used. I stood in the snow with my arms stretched out before me, holding that crayoned paper out like a plate to catch sugared delicacies as they drifted down.

Night Dancing in the Kitchen

Night Dancing in the Kitchen By Chelsea Biondolillo   |  January 26, 2015
It was country-late: the air outside getting cool and damp and purple. I sat at my grandparent's dining table making clothespin dolls while the crickets whined and Teddy-dog sat by the back door smacking his muzzle at errant flies. The doll project made me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I clipped red and white checks and velvet strips from grandma’s quilting stash.

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms By Kate Meadows   |  January 19, 2015
He awakes crying just after 6 a.m. Hard rain pounds against the windows, and the sky is black as coal, electric with dances of lightning. But it is the thunder that woke him. It breaks in heart-stopping claps and low, penetrating rumbles. The violent sound is a noise he can’t make sense of. He reaches for me from the edge of his crib.

Hands like Sunrise

Hands like Sunrise By Chris Bahnsen   |  January 12, 2015
From the riverbank I watch a great white egret on jointed stilts near a patch of tall reeds, calm as the shallows where it stands. My father would come here the way other people come to morning mass, this river his wide altar. Explosive, the egret’s yellow beak spears through its own reflection then bursts skyward throwing diamond droplets.

Maple Spile

Maple Spile By Erin Calabria   |  January 5, 2015
We called that hill of sugar maples at the end of Deacon Parker Road "the big bush." In March, with the sun dropping gold and the slosh of snowmelt soaking our boots, we hauled buckets of sap down from those endless trees to the waiting truck, back and forth till the air turned chill and our shoulders throbbed. We loved that time though--

Skipping

Skipping By Elettra Pauletto   |  December 29, 2014
It’s nearly dinner time in Mweso, a small village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but the nuns I’m staying with insist they don’t need my help preparing it. So I relax on the porch and watch the road across the clearing, where villagers walk by on bent knees, flanked by tall trees with leaves like unfurled swan wings. The war is near, but not here, not now.

The Best Time

The Best Time By Linda Crowe   |  December 22, 2014
Nighttime is the best time. I peek in and watch him sleep in his dim room. Sometimes he talks in his dreams. "Mansion Hills, yeah, yeah. Mansion Hills. Good old 2807," and I know he’s wandering through his house and his neighborhood, a nice enough neighborhood, but with a name far above its station.

Lost Tribe

Lost Tribe By Jennifer Alessi   |  December 15, 2014
We called it "seek and go hide" because we thought it sounded cooler. In summer we’d play all day long. After quick cereal breakfasts, we’d gather on our rural street—aged six to ten or so, Lee jeans and tattered tees, mosquito bites like satellite maps on our elbows.

Playboy

Playboy By Steven Harvey   |  December 8, 2014
When my mother caught Chris and me looking at Playboy, we knew we were in trouble, but to my surprise she did not get angry. She took me into the house and pulled out the large glossy art books with paintings by the Impressionists. “A woman’s body is beautiful,” she told me.

Turkey Soup

Turkey Soup By Marissa Landrigan   |  December 1, 2014
On Thanksgiving, after the turkey is carved and gutted – after we slice through half of the twenty-pound bird my mother insists on ordering, though there are only ever seven of us for dinner – my father and grandfather return to the half-spent carcass and harvest the rest.

Raindrops

Raindrops By Linda Dunlavy   |  November 24, 2014
A thunderstorm breaks this morning. Afterwards, my nine-year-old daughter calls me to come outside and look. I go, resisting the temptation to finish washing the dishes first. My youngest child won’t be young much longer. The soft, still air feels like forgiveness after the sky’s wild outburst. My daughter is admiring hundreds of raindrops clinging to spider webs in the corner of our front stairs. I usually remove these webs with a flick of the broom. But not today – they are transformed, bejeweled, and their splendor leaves me powerless to disturb them.

Rocket Scientist

Rocket Scientist By Andrea Caswell   |  November 17, 2014
As a child, when adults asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had plenty of answers, but they all sounded like Halloween costumes. Race-car driver. Astronaut. Olympic track star. My father was a rocket scientist for NASA, so the idea that a person could be anything, in this world or beyond, was real to me.

The Giant Dipper

The Giant Dipper By Julie Marie Wade   |  November 10, 2014
When I ask her “What was the greatest adventure of your life?”, my grandmother grows quiet. Like all questions I have ever asked, she takes this one seriously. I watch her lips part along their narrow seam, the glint of gold visible between her two front teeth.

Missing

Missing By Riane Konc   |  November 3, 2014
You have been ours for ten months, and tomorrow, the state will return you to your mother. Not ours, of course. We know. Foster parents have no rights, not really. Friends and family of foster parents certainly don’t, no matter how many braids we tie, or school assemblies we attend, or baths we draw. I know the words on your spelling list for next week--you’ve been struggling with affect and effect--but it doesn’t matter, because tomorrow you will go home, and though we don’t know it--though we give you our phone numbers and beg you to call, we will never hear from you again.

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