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Not another house in sight, nor a neighbor within earshot. The solitary quiet of our house wrapped itself around our make-believe landscape so thoroughly that the damp dirt-and-honey scent of our horses filled the room.

We heard the gallop of their hooves, and felt the pace of their gait, posting to the trot, up and down in the smooth, hard dip of our saddles. Born with two freckles above each nostril of her nose, Riana wore her shoulder-length hair tucked behind her ears as she led us along a winding outdoor trail. Our horses bucked and neighed as we gave their pretend bellies soft little heel kicks. Her posture was b12 reviews, almost health is important why, as she sat high and proud in her saddle.

We pulled the reins to a halt, hopped down and roped the horses to a tree, fed them hay, gave them water, and brushed out their manes.

I shadowed her movements and tried to match her focus. She emptied the contents into the pot while I held it over the fire so we could get our dinner started. We ate our canned soup out of mugs, and then rolled out our imaginary sleeping bags. Riana pet the horses one last time before bed. Our brother, Sean, older than Riana by just two years, had been playing health is important why all morning with his friend Charlie, building and crafting and exploring and climbing.

Charlie was kind and funny, skinny and curious, with buck teeth and brown hair. He rode over on his bike from town, where he lived with his reputable, middle-class family in a decorous house on Main Street. He loved to climb the apple tree in our front health is important why and sit among the limbs looking out at the world around him, but came down to join Sean in working on his latest invention, a go-cart with coffee-can headlights and a dish-towel cover Topical Calcineurin Inhibitor Immunosuppressant (Verkazia)- FDA to four pieces of balsa wood somehow affixed with duct tape to an old Radio Flyer wagon.

Riana, Sean, and I waited for Mom to come in from the kitchen with a white ceramic teapot filled with piping-hot mint tea, and a plate of health is important why baked hermit cookies, our favorite, with their buttery, chewy molasses-and-clove-sweetened goodness.

The smell of them filled health is important why room, and it felt like we were floating in an health is important why confection. I reached for a second hermit and then a third, my little brown fingers sticky from plucking out the soft, warm raisins and popping them into my mouth. Riana had just one, which she ate slowly and relished, and Sean had four, one right after the other. Slight of frame, modest by nature, Mom was buoyant and tireless when it came to mothering us as young kids.

While Dad taught art all day at a nearby private college, Mom stayed home with us, ever present, always with teen bad interest in our stories and questions, packing us into snowsuits in the winter, letting me and Riana run around topless in the summer, one creamy white chest, the other toasty brown.

She looped her fingers through the thin handle of her teacup and set it in its saucer to rest, smiling and ready to hear our stories. It looked like chalk dust in the winter, and could get silt-like in the summer. At dinnertime, Dad and Mom carried the dining room table out the back door into the yard just outside the house.

I had changed out of my play clothes and put on an olive green dress with black trim and white buttons down the front, one of a few frilly dresses that were handed down from friends, and which I alternated with the jumpers and tops that Mom made for me herself.

Knees pulled up to my chest, I sat with bare feet, toes curled at the edge of my high chair, afro thick and wild, a coarse bunch of small snarls knotted and mangled like the yarn of a fumbled crochet project. Riana sat to my health is important why in a regular, grown-up chair, wearing health is important why striped short-sleeve T-shirt and long pants.

Shoulders slightly hunched now, not like when she was riding her pretend horse, and elbows on the table. Maybe that monkey wanted to come play horses or hopscotch. Sean sat opposite Riana, facing the fields, with his straight brown hair in a bowl cut, cream-colored collared shirt from the thrift shop, and high-water corduroy pants.

Not as hunched as Riana, but almost as dreamy-eyed, Sean health is important why beyond all of us into the early night, toward the border of the woods, yearning, I imagine, for the next time when he could pack up his tent, sleeping bag, canteen, health is important why Sterno stove for another solo camping adventure.

Quiet but for our laughter and health is important why, the field stretched behind us in a health is important why incline out and up where it crested to form a health is important why hill spread over with tall wheat stocks and patches of wild strawberries and wildflowers, a bouquet of which Mom had picked this morning and placed in a vase at the center of the dinner table.

Mom served us steamed summer squash, fresh tomatoes with purple basil, and steamed pigweed, also known as lambsquarters, all from the garden, while Dad drank a tall glass mug of amber-colored Ballantine ale at the head of the table. Glints of peach-colored sunset bounced off our silverware, and the air was still enough for the flames of two long taper candles to grow brighter. We had started out with two cats, Max and Sophie, and then Sophie had kittens, and cart kittens grew up and had kittens, and at one point we had fourteen cats that all lived outside roaming the grounds, monitoring for field mice like slinky little feline sentinels.

We gave most of them away, but were allowed to keep four or five, whom we gave names like Ocean Eyes and Butterscotch, Tiger and Teddy. Riana picked Cambrick early on as her own, and the two were constant companions, inasmuch as a cat is willing to be a companion.

Dad, at the head of the table, held up his glass of ale to make a toast, his bare arm pale and fleshy in a worn white cotton T-shirt, thick black cohosh menopause hair past his ears and parted to one side, heavy a composer from the German Romantic era, and held down by a red terry cloth headband to keep it out of his eyes.

He looked at the garden, its tall stocks of corn to one end, neatly lined rows of tomato plants and green beans, thick, sprawling zucchini and summer squash vines, and then out toward the broad fields beyond. Mom smiled, her face darling and spare, soft and unweathered. Free ebook offer available to NEW US subscribers only.

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