Pamela Huber

South Lake, Tahoe

Shark Bay by Meganne Rosen

GRANITE weighs 160 pounds
per cubic foot. We’ve learned
this in our backs and thighs, in the
3,000 calories a day we mindlessly
consume, in the sheer exhaustion
that collapses us into bed each night.
And we rise again at six each day
to coffee, to laced boots, to an extra
hour of sleep in the van on the way
to our worksite’s trailhead. To granite.

THE RIVER is off-limits, but we don’t heed the restoration signs.
meant for tourists. We’re locals now. Seasonal                                                                                   .
locals, but locals nonetheless. We pump
our K-Mart tubes full of air and float
downriver. Three hours to the first bridge. Pause to shotgun beers at the sandbar. Four hours to the second bridge. We never make it to the Tahoe Keys or the sparkling blue lake. Hour five, get out and hitch a ride to
all-you-can-eat sushi, our hair
still wet,                                    .
the                   .
feeling  .
of ice water     .
down               .
our      .
backs.             .

THE MANICURED LAWN on the shore of Tahoe City is a perfect technicolor green and us four, in our worn hiking shoes with red dirt on our faces smelling of campfire, look out of place. We lay in the grass, the sound of children with sticky ice-cream mouths laughing by the water, and we know we don’t belong here. In South Lake, no one looks twice at a thru-hiker, let alone a group just back from a night illegally camping in the woods. But here, families on vacation haven’t seen campers in years. We don’t pay for parking—just leave a note on the dash that says “Car out of gas. Be back tomorrow.” Both times we return to her, her tank is fuller.

THE PARENTS selling crystals at the farmer’s market take turns jiggling their newborn in her
sunhat on their knees as we pick through their rocks and ammonites,
planning wire-wrapped jewelry in our heads.
They are the first couple I’ve ever met who live in a van on purpose. They tell me they mined the
quartz I’m buying in Arizona. She is annoyed at him for selling the perfect pendant
to me for so cheap.

THREE-DAY WEEKENDS mean two things: Thursday-night pool at The Cue over eight-dollar pitchers of PBR and hot days drinking on the dog beach (and they said California was expensive—we’re the only AmeriCorps crew we know of where no one needs food stamps). Our crew leader uses our bags to form a diamond in the sand and we divide into teams. The rules of shlossball are simple: it’s just like kickball, but never set down your beer. Not when pitching and not when catching and not when kicking and not when running and not even when the black bear wanders out of the woods and one of us, blinded by too many beers under the hot sun, heads off to pee behind the bush where the bear is eating.
.                                                                                                            An eagle flies over the pines.

.                                                                                                                                    Never set down your beer.
.                                                                                                                                    Never set down your beer.


About the writer:
Pamela Huber is a Pushcart Prize nominee who lives on Piscataway land in Washington DC. Her writing has appeared in Furious Gravity, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Rising Phoenix Review, American Literary Magazine, and CommonLit. She was born on the water and rubs the leaves of trees for good luck.

Image: Shark Bay from a body of work called Bathymetry by Meganne Rosen. Acrylic on canvas. No size specified. By 2020. By permission. Meganne Rosen recently moved back to Springfield, Missouri after residing in Oakland, California for two years where she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at California College of the Arts in San Francisco (2018). Rosen also completed a Master of Arts (MA) in Studio Art and Theory at Drury University (2011). In Springfield, Meganne teaches in the Art and Design Department at Missouri State University and in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Ozarks Technical Community College.