I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Francesca Hampton lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she’s working on a historical novel about Tibet.
The mooring lines creaked with strain as the ship leaned away from the dock. The afternoon sea wind drove long translucent ripples up the harbor’s main channel, and pennants bearing the name SS Catalina whipped back and forth on short poles beside the gangway. The wind blew the old man’s hair where he stood silent in the line of high-spirited tourists. He ran one hand over his face, already doubting what he had undertaken, tired from standing in the sun. When the chain was dropped, he handed his ticket into the vacuum of a steward’s inattention, followed the others into the lounge, and sat down with a sigh of relief.
In the small kitchen behind the meditation room, the fire was going even in the late afternoon, heating milk and water for Tibetan tea in large dented aluminum pots set on the grill. The ventilator shaft above the flames was curved, and the smoke curled up to it lazily, discouraged by every small draft back into a tour of the low-ceilinged room. Walls and ceiling had long ago taken on a thick fur of soot, and the fading light that crept into the kitchen made little impression on the midnight walls. Even with his face turned partly toward the door, the young monk did not notice when the foreigner came into the room.