There’s a small bamboo forest near a busy intersection a few blocks from my apartment building. I saw only one bamboo baby today, this one, probably ripped from mother earth’s bosom under cover of the night to be boiled and eaten by the bamboo shoot thief. Sam is on his way back to his hometown to attend the funeral of his sister’s husband’s father. Two weeks ago his mother’s older brother died. The anniversary of his father’s death is soon. Spring is really the best time of year to die. Everything’s manically shooting out sprouts and leaves and flowers and the birds and animals are mating and the day is lengthening and you go the opposite direction and throw in the towel, go underground, death and darkness and decay.
From Garrison Keillor’s Wobegon Boy:
“‘Would you care for spaghetti?’ said Mother, already filling a bowl with a long skein of pasta. She dumped a cup of red sauce over it and added another, and set it on the table, with a paper towel for a napkin. Dad died on the next-to-top basement step on his way upstairs from having taken to the basement a box of rubber binders that Mother had told him to get rid of, binders saved from his years of running the grain elevator, thousands of binders, a life-time supply. While in the basement, he fetched a bag of peas from the freezer in the laundry room, which he kept full of hamburger patties, fish sticks, vegetables, hash browns, as his hedge against disaster. … And then disaster struck as he climbed the stairs. Dad suffered from arrhythmia, and as he approached the top, he must have lost his breath. … She was making spaghetti sauce. She put a little more seasoning in it, and then opened the door to the stairs a moment later, and he was gone, slumped against the wall, the bag of frozen peas in his right hand. … She sat on the stairs beside him and put her arm around his shoulders and smoothed his hair and kissed his cheek. … And then she took the frozen peas from his hand and put them in the refrigerator and called the rescue squad.
“Diana said, ‘He was unconscious, and you took the peas from him before you called the rescue squad?’ … She looked around at the rest of us. I ate my spaghetti. Bill and Judy drank coffee. They ate cookies from a box that neighbors had sent over. … And then Diana clapped her hand to her mouth. ‘Those weren’t the same peas…’ ‘Yes,’ said Mother. ‘Actually they were, of course they were.’ She had put the peas in the spaghetti, with the tomato sauce. The death peas. ‘We ate the peas Daddy held in his hand as he died?’ Diana whispered.”