Happy plumes of smoke from the chimney, the log house behind ours. Now that it’s for sale, they leave the lights on all night and day, and it glows through the trees and bushes, happy plumes of smoke like a tugboat, an old man’s pipe. I drove to work and saw myself sitting in my new car at the light, not thinking about anything. They moved to a new building on the Microsoft campus, the old one getting torn down, time for a change. And though I’m not an employee, I felt like I belonged there that first Monday, with everyone moving into their new offices and me still with my laptop, a strange fraternity. I drove home, stopping at the store for milk, eggs, rice, wine. And then Dawn joined me in the den and we talked about our days, I warmed dinner, the kids joined in, and then it was time for bed — and in the morning Dawn got up before I did and started the coffee, Lily’s alarm kept going off and I had to go in to stop it — and the happy plumes of smoke from the log house carried on in the morning dark, I thought about the people who once lived there we’d never know, what they were like, we never met, we never really noticed that house it was set so far back.
Image by Albert Neuhuys (Middagmaal in een boerengezin)