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The cottonwood snow is falling outside, flying. Inside each puffy fluff is a seed, and these seeds ride the wind, all of the wind, the buffeting gusts that blow your hair and the subtlest streams that you can’t even feel. But the seeds can feel. They are sensitive, delicate, and so they know what you cannot, revealing it to you by their dancing. They might become trees someday, these dancing seeds. They might.

I was walking in the woods yesterday when I saw one coming right for me. I knew it’d be hard to catch, almost like catching the wind itself, and for a second I thought maybe I wouldn’t bother trying—since some things aren’t supposed to be caught, are born to be let go—but I couldn’t stop myself. I held up my hand, palm out, and the puff came in hard and quiet. I gave into its momentum when it hit, although I couldn’t feel the contact—so callous, this skin—and it floated there, magnanimous, deigning to stay with me for a while. I took my hand away—Will you leave me if I let you go?—and it remained there, motionless. But when I went to grab it—to keep, and to quash—my own movement created a ripple of air that preceded my hand, which sent the floating seed into a swirl away from me, and then the wind caught it again and carried it on toward its destiny, to become a tree perhaps, or perhaps not. Goodbye. And I thought, as I walked on, about how miraculous it is that I ever get to spend any time at all with anybody, floating as we all are in the intemperate winds of this cosmos, and none of us for any longer than just a moment or two. The staggering unlikeliness of meeting another, and of meeting oneself for that matter . . . and that it happens anyway somehow, each day, every day, so many meetings of heart and hand and eye that I forget how impossible any of them ought to be.

*“Cottonwood” by SamDakota

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