When I was a child in the 1950s and 60s, we lived in the upstairs half of a two-family house in the North Bronx. We had a porch, but no air conditioning, not even fans. On very hot summer nights when I could not sleep, I would get up and go out to the porch, where I usually found my dad, sitting in his shorts and bare feet, smoking a cigarette. Summer mornings, sometimes we would have a treat for breakfast that I don’t remember anyone in the house liking but us, blueberries and sour cream. Daddy loved it, and so did I.
I read Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place as an adult. It takes place in Woodlawn Cemetery, about a mile from where I grew up and only steps from our house now. Blueberries and sour cream play a small role in that fantastical and cherished story, as do images and shadows of the Bronx where I was raised.
This morning I had blueberries and sour cream, thinking about my father, and unicorns, and growing older.