Let us talk about—well, anything you will. Pinecones, for instance. Pinecones are a symbol of domestic love or mid-suburban adolescence according to their position near the home of my youth. Outside my neighborhood, in that wild state where lawnmowers cannot mulch them, they may have stood for nothing more than a fire starter or a simple ornamentation of nature or a kind of flower; I cannot tell. I may only speak of them now as I remember them, which is as a secret mutualistic symbol of love between my wife and self. In the spindly tree tops, glazed with sap in the sunlight and branches, upon which the rusty robin roils his late afternoon ramblings, they remind me of sugared apricots, the desire to have a first kiss and other delightful things of youth. But mixed with potpourri in cheap glass bowls upon three-legged tables, above which the false plastic leaves sway indoors under the silent central heating, they remind me of old age and knick-knacked kitsch and the all-too-palpable perfume that my grandmother constantly wears. It was probably good that the pinecone had no choice in the matter. Pinecones don’t look pretty in the suburban neighborhood, yet I doubt that the prettiness of the pinecone had anything to do with our falling in love. Rather the need to occupy one’s hands while engaged in conversation with a crush. No one can sit in front of Nature’s most wonderful feelings, young love, without wishing to fulfill the sensations, the physical pleasure of the precipice and the aesthetic pleasure of the kiss combining to produce perfect contentment. So by the side of the girl the same desire stirred in me, and because I never kissed her while she held the pinecone in her hand, there had to have been something prickly and spiny to put a stop to such passions.