birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Summer Evenings

“Slow down, you move too fast/ You got to make the morning last . . .”

Jim and I married in July of 1981, in Seattle. After our week-long honeymoon, we settled down for six weeks in a gatekeeper’s cottage on the grounds of a Medina mansion on Mercer Island (Bill Gates didn’t live in Medina at the time; that came later). The woman who lived in the snug home had decorated the 1930s place in hippie prints and Japanese futons. 

I had enough money to not work for the year that it would take for Jim to finish medical school. I had no responsibilities to speak of, for the first time in my 36 years. I set out to read as many mystery stories as struck my fancy, while working on writing one. Jim was spending nights in a pathology lab; during the day we explored Seattle, read, walked, ate, and rested. I cut cabbage roses, six inches across and fragrant from the bushes in the yard and floated them in bowls of water on the low table where we ate the meals that I cooked.

When Jim was gone in the evenings. I sat out on the front stoop under the porch light watching the breezes stir the tops of the Douglas firs. They seemed so high to me, twice as tall as anything in Alaska where I’d lived for many years. And the air was warm and sweet, not the crisp fresh air of the mountains and ocean. 

A dozen or more six-inch long banana slugs crawled up the long sidewalk toward the light. When they encountered each other, they would pile on, wrestling each other. One would conquer and continue toward the light, while the vanquished slunk away to the grass. The light attracted moths too, and my childhood love for anything that flew flowed out. 

It was a slow and sweet time without cares, weeks without cares, enough time to understand that I could be happy. Just be happy. That was all.

ev’ning moths
drawing close to light

Golden Rules

Minding My Own Business