What the urban Farmer doesn’t know keeps increasing.
Her sister’s recent fainting spell led to a broken neck.
“The bone shattered,” P says.
“Oh, no,” objects the Urban Farmer, “It mustn’t have done that. If it had shattered, you wouldn’t be up and walking around. The surgeons would still be plucking out bits. They might have given up already and you might not be.”
“OK, then. Fractured. The bone fractured.”
They admire some honeysuckle and fantastically-colored irises. The irises’ bristly beards stand out brilliantly against the peach-colored petals. Next they remark on the peonies and variety of roses. A week plus of May left to go and these are already blooming. Indeed, the Urban Farmer has already dragged the Vornado up from the basement. She and the Co-habitator have slept to its mechanical wind four nights this month.
At the beach they talk about the melting ice caps. The water must go somewhere. The Urban Farmer has heard mention of a foot rise in sea level, possibly within twenty years. Perhaps earlier.
“There goes the beach,” the Urban Farmer says with a wave of her hand. “There goes Holiday Island.”
Because a foot rise in sea level, as the Urban Farmer figures it, means more than a foot loss in shore line. Think of the shore as the hypotenuse of a triangle, she explains to P. One foot rise in water level translates to a five, ten, twenty foot rise in tide. It all depends on the shore line’s pitch. The Urban Farmer walks down to where the water meets the shore, then she walks back up the beach four, six feet. She calls to P. “A foot rise in sea level takes me to about here. I reckon this is what the shore line would look like.” High tide would be that much higher, too.
Now, though, they are back to a more skeletal frame of mind. They are trying to imagine what’s holding up their heads. They know about the vertebrae, but wonder if other bones might be involved. They feel around to see what’s there. There’s the jaw, the clavicle, the shoulder bones. They conclude it’s just the vertebrae attaching to the skull. Maybe it’s all that cording—the ligaments and tendons—that keep their heads on straight.
“I don’t even know how I’m put together,” The Urban Farmer remarks to P. “And after all these years on the planet, too.” You think she would have the basics figured out. But a car, a sky scraper, a sewing machine—she knows more about their mechanics than her own.
“Didn’t I take biology?” she asks P. “Shouldn’t I have a better grasp than this?”
She recalls pinning frogs to wax trays; hooking their legs to electrodes; studying leaves under microscopes; learning about the capillary action of trees. Only certain parts of the tree—she thinks it was xylum—were capable of suctioning up water. They studied spinach, too. Something about its chelating power? How iron glued to it?
In mid-June P relates to the Urban Farmer that it wasn’t her vertebrae that fractured. Several tiny skull bones did. It will be months before they knit back together.
The Urban Farmer shakes her head. Even that part of the story they got wrong.