Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Basic Ingredients

by Mella Mincberg

You begin with the four basic ingredients: quiet, strawberries, moonlight and imagination. That's all you need. For what? For coming to life.

Out of the quiet comes clothing and shelter. After all, when your world turns still, eventually you realize things. That you are cold, for instance. Or you are sad. Or you are lonely.

And strawberries-what could be more scrumptious and eye-catching, more sensual? I mean the big strawberries, the dark ones, almost maroon in color.

Moonlight and imagination go hand in hand. Moonlight is indirect light, a subtle radiance, and soothes the spirit. It also encourages imagination. In the presence of moonlight, you can use your imagination with more finesse and deftness.

Tonight, sometime past midnight, I have all four. Sitting in the center of an open field, I am surrounded by quiet while eating strawberries from a glass bowl and gazing at the full moon overhead. My imagination takes flight on a trip to the past. To another field, in the midday heat of July, a field of ripe strawberries. We pulled them like corks from the ankle-high vines. We ate half, put the rest into a tin bucket.

I was with my parents. "Too much work for strawberries," my father grumbled while picking some. "I want them served to me. With sugar and sour cream." He wore a long-sleeved shirt, his face dripping sweat. Red face to match the strawberries.

My mother was bent over a clump of vines. "When else can you harvest the foods you eat?," she asked. She flapped a hand at my father. "We live in the city. We have a plot small as my pinky." She had on a sleeveless shirt and shorts. The shiny jet black of her hair danced around her head.

My nine-year-old body crumpled into a heap-right on top of those strawberries to be picked. I laughed so hard that I could have peed in my underpants under my magenta shorts. Like I'd never really seen my parents before. Like I suddenly saw opposites. I had polar opposites for parents and if I wasn't careful, they could pull me apart. But instead, I could laugh, which is just what I did.

Life sprang forth that day, something revealing itself for the first time, like God or perspective or rock-bottom truth. All I know is that I felt wiser, bigger. As if I'd grown one hundred inches and could touch the sky.

Tonight, looking through the dead of darkness, I wonder whether I can again touch the sky. Even the moon. I stretch out one arm. Then I have an idea. I grab a strawberry from the glass bowl and throw it as hard as I can, straight up at the silvery orb. And it must have hit, because mid-flight the strawberry stops, changes directions, falls back down.

I think, Ah. I have touched the moon. That is life more than anything. All from the mingling of quiet and strawberries and moonlight and imagination. Where my parents can exist again, beside me as always, as if they never left. I can taste the sweetness.

Mella Mincberg is a writer who lives in Sonoma County, California with her family. She is working on a novel. Strawberries are her favorite fruit.

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