“I’ll always think of you when I see dirt,” he told her. He said this because every time they walked in the woods, she smeared dirt between her hands. Dry summer dirt, cold, crunchy winter dirt, and all the promising, practically edible dirts of the spring and fall. Being with him was like that. Earthy. Messy. Like compost–generating a slow and steady heat. She was completely awake with him; she saw everything. The tiniest ferns unraveling, moist green mosses, as complete as the world; and once, the blossoms of a cherry tree fluttering to the ground. “Snow,” he said that time, and they both laughed.
“I just want to love you,” she told him as they walked through tall prairie grass in the spring. “Yes,” he said. They walked in all seasons. Once, in the rain, he gave her his jacket and she had to roll the sleeves up four times. “How do you feel?” he asked another time, standing in the middle of a summer forest. “Like myself,” she said. “I always feel like myself with you.” He didn’t say anything. There were mosquitoes that day, and clouds of little gnats hanging in the humid morning air.
Another time, they walked across a quiet frozen lake. They had been sledding on a flimsy plastic sled that he had tied to the roof of his car. They ate chocolate and drank the juice of a grapefruit from each other’s mouths. He walked to the edge of the lake to look at the snow, and she laid down in the middle, looking up into the white sky.