Grilled cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off. My grandfather’s specialty made with white bread, (the only kind I knew there was back then) and bubbling yellow American cheese, (gently peeled from the individually wrapped coat of plastic) slightly burned on the outside, (just the way I liked it.) Consuming the masterpiece of carbohydrates, dairy, and grease slowly, examining each bite for teeth impressions, and eating around the ends in a spiral-like fashion, so that my final bite of cheesy goodness would be the exact center of the sandwich, the heart, the core.
I would enjoy my lunch on the screened-in back porch of my childhood home, the thin royal blue weathered carpeting, the wooden drawer that housed my expansive rock collection, the old worn-out sofa, which doubled as the base for a fort. That tired and patched sofa marked the gathering space where my Poppy and I would spend many evenings sitting and listening to nature’s chorus: identifying bird calls, eavesdropping on the conversations of insects and frogs.
Often, when it got dark, I would descend into our backyard and take to capturing lightning bugs, holding them captive in a jelly jar just long enough to survey their personalities and give them suitable first and middle names.
It would then be time to carefully release them back into the wild, mindful that they might be parents needing to tuck their children into bed or coerce into completing their homework. Careful not to harm a single bug, I would use my index finger to gently coax them out of the jar, returning the creatures, as much as possible, to the same location I had found them, as to minimize their disorientation so they could once again be free.
These gentle-hearted gestures were both intrinsic notions and absorbed teachings instilled in me from the nature-loving qualities of my grandfather, the man who helped me understand my role in the world by teaching me about the things in nature I could change and those I could not.