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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 81 TO KEEP LONDON, my friends’ five-year-old son, distracted while we waited for a table at the Bobcat Bite on Old Las Vegas Highway, I spelled out c-a-t. London looked upward to a point above my head, picturing the letters, sounding them out in small lip motions. Finally he pounced on the pronunciation, snarling out that “t” at the end like the triumphant conclusion to orals for a Ph.D. in phonics. London, who was in the middle of kindergarten, was always intrigued by words for a time but then they would abruptly ex- haust him. “No more,” he said after also conquering t-o, b-a-t, i-n, u-p, and w-a -s. There were still four parties ahead of us to be seated. “Well, how about doing opposites?” I proposed. His eyes lit up. “What’s the opposite of red?” I felt the challenge, but I took too long to answer. “I’ll tell you,” London jumped in. “What?” I said. “Orange!” he screamed, throwing his hands up. I was flabbergasted. “What’s the opposite of bacon?” I retorted. The adults around us, also waiting for tables and slyly listen- ing, snapped their heads around. London finally gave in. “I dunno. What is it?” “Calendar!” I yelled. “Ohh.” London liked that answer. The thin, pale waitress picked up the chalk and crossed out “Wilder 5” on the blackboard hanging near the door, then nod- ded her head in our direction. We scuttled behind her just as I was about to call out “hamburger” and its opposite, “shoe.” EARLIER THAT DAY, a feed store near London’s house was ad- vertising baby chicks. Easter was a week away. “Want to stop in?” I asked London and his sister, Poppy, five years his senior. We found the chicks—all colors and shapes—in big box cages under heat lamps in the back of the store. “Do you think any of them will become ducks?” I asked Pop- py, innocently. ILLUSTRATIONSBYKATHERINESTREETER One Heart Effort and longing, frailties and aspirations—we’re in this together, says Natalie Goldberg, and it is so much bigger than we are. NATALIE GOLDBERG’S most recent book is Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. SEPT 80-99.indd 81 SEPT 80-99.indd 81 7/3/08 1:34:37 PM 7/3/08 1:34:37 PM