Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I suppose I could have continued to revise one of my papers. Or gone back to work to finish some analyses. Written a blog post that was informative in some way. Read a good book. Cleaned. Perused job listings.

Instead, I took a bath. I don’t generally like baths and have, since moving into my house, only taken two (tonight inclusive). It seems such an inefficient way to become clean. I get bored. It confuses the dog and frightens the cat, both of them moving carefully into the master bathroom to peer at me. It’s just rather odd.

Yet I had a special bath orb left from when I bought two in December. The first one was pink and sweet, but this one was white and promised that slivers of cocoa butter waited inside. So, thinking of the writing and analysis I meant to ignore and wondering if I’d actually receive any job offers in the future, I shuffled down the hallway to examine the sphere of fizziness that has rested on the ledge of my tub for months. I shrugged and turned on the water, letting it warm before closing the drain.

I tugged a vine from the neglected plant that hangs from the bathroom ceiling. Identifying the healthy portion in the remaining light coming in through the frosted window, I tore away the dying part and pushed and wiggled the healthy portion into the soil swaying in a container over my head. I shrugged again as I stared at the plant for a moment, the feeling that my efforts were inadequate a very familiar one.

Afraid that Sprout would knock over the candle burning in the living room, I walked down the hall to fetch it, settling it on one corner of the tub so I could hear the crackle of the wooden wick. When I twisted the faucet to cease the thunder of water into the full bathtub, I replaced the sound with the fizzing of the bath orb after I untied the ribbon that held its plastic bag closed. It’s not unlike the hiss of soda over ice, I decided.

But the water, once I was submerged, felt soft and silky. And rather than the sweet, floral scent that the pink orb produced, the white sphere offered clear water and I inhaled a richness reminiscent of truly excellent ice cream. I nodded my approval and settled my shoulders deeper in the water. From that angle, I could see a framed craft project in front of me. Mom dried flowers from the garden before I started college. She arranged them carefully - two tall flowers between some flat greenery and some shorter, more fluffy-looking buds. I squinted at them in an attempt to remember the color that had long faded from their petals.

Also in my line of sight was the very end of one of the vines tumbling from overhead. I couldn’t see the leaves gone yellow from neglect. All that snuck into my vision were two leaves, bright green and still gently curled toward their centers. They seemed hopeful and tender to me, much like the flowering trees outside. With that thought, I let my eyes drift closed and listened to the water swish when I shifted positions and the clock thwick down the seconds and the candle… What is that sound that fire makes as it licks at wood? You see flickering. But you hear something else. Louder than a whisper, but I found myself blinking my eyes open to stare at the candle, unable to articulate the sounds coming from it. There was a scent too, I frowned, sniffing at the pale blue wax. I couldn’t identify it either. Not floral so much as clean, I decided even as I pouted over my inability to find the right words.

I climbed out of the tub as the dog and cat scampered away from the door to avoid the dripping water that might attack them before I reached for a towel. I tugged my pink robe from the hook and snuggled inside it, pondering how my skin felt so silky from the magical bath orb. Sitting on the edge of the tub, I watched the water drain with gurgles and slurps. When I was little, Mom would have to coax me out of the bath. I would sit by the tub then too, wrapped in a towel that covered me shoulders to toes, and wait as the water level dropped.

“OK, Katie,” Mom would say, sitting next to me. “Say bye-bye, germ bugs!” I would repeat her words and wave to the last of the water as it disappeared down the drain. Then we would go find pajamas and a book. I did the former, but substituted a laptop for the latter. I like words and the way they fit together. I rather enjoy writing meaningless blog posts, though I apologize if they’re not so fun to read. It did, however, seem a nice change from talking about how I'm looking for a job or really feel terrible with this cold or can't seem to figure out how to successfully get these papers accepted. I suppose we'll return to those topics tomorrow. In the meantime, if anyone can find a word for the sound fire makes, would you mind letting me know?


Propter Doc said...

Some fires hiss and crackle, others make blowing noises like when you blow over the top of a bottle gently (but deeper tone), other fires sound like damp cotton sheets, blowing on a washing line in the breeze, a strange flapping noise. I don't think there are specific words for it. I miss the open fire. There was nothing better than having a long hot bubbly bath (I am a bath person and like one at least every fortnight as an indulgence rather than a cleaning exercise) wrapping up in a big fluffy towel and stitting in front of the fire to dry. So nice.

PhysioProf said...


post-doc said...

I just don't think I'm a bath person. I also have never used the fireplace in my living room - a fact which saddens me since I do like a good fire. But I'm very pleased with your descriptions of fire. Thank you.


Mad Hatter said...

I'm not a bath person either. But maybe that's just because my bathtub is too small. If I bend my legs, my knees get cold. If I stretch my legs out, my feet get cold.

I know...I need a hot tub! :-)

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