Over the summer, the top of her head reached his shoulder, and her
coordination has yet to account for the extra length. In repose she tends
to resemble something you fold for easy storage, like a deck chair or an
umbrella. As the bus eases forward, Parrish breathes through the unsettled feeling and maps out the day. She had said, “Love you, Daddy,” and
the sound or its memory holds like a musical note in the rush of quiet.
He can smell her shampoo, a trace of wildflowers. He washes the breakfast dishes and leaves them to dry.
In places the tang of woodsmoke still makes him tear up. With scant
rain, the signs and odors linger. The fire sheared off all evidence of civilization, or nearly so, a few hundred homes included. The county and the
regional planning agency, usually at odds, are working together to expedite building permits. For Parrish, it means a backlog of survey work.
He seldom works the basin, where land surveyors are plentiful and
where every tree over four inches across must be depicted on a survey.
Typical alpine lots don’t lack for trees. But here that no longer holds true.
Local survey outfits have booked up weeks out; with everyone racing to
build before winter, desperate calls have reached the valley.
The Forest Service takes a dim view of removing trees, even its own
slash piles, and the regional planning agency takes an equally dim view
of removing ground cover. It’s a chronic problem for homeowners, all
the encroaching tinder. An early summer seasoned a perfect combustible material, and wildfire did the rest. Parrish heard about treetops
Parrish drinks coffee and struggles with a sharp-cornered sensation, a worrisome feeling that he’s forgotten to do something for her. It’s partial and vexing like
the memory of his dream. Whatever it is, it fills him
to choking and makes him look away from her. He
would call it love except for the unrest it causes him.