Milagro Beach Nature Center

 

Ryan glanced around the room while he waited for Siobhan to set up the rock she had promised to show him.  The large L-shaped space apparently functioned as both museum and classroom.  His eyes took note of the book cases and chalk boards lining the walls, as well as the large, rather messy desk, set beneath the window in the shorter leg of the el.

Several glass display cases stood about the room.  Tonight, their collections of feathers and bleached bones and fluid filled jars of who-knew-what were lost in the shadows.   But he remembered them well from the last time he’d been here, the previous September.

Back then, the cases had all been shoved against the walls to make room for a cluster of tables that had been set up in the center of the room.   Tonight, however, the tables were arranged in two parallel rows.  A half-dozen Plexiglas tanks, each accompanied by a magnifying lens and a small amber-shaded desk lamp, were stationed on each table.

But the change in the furnishings wasn’t the biggest difference between that other time and now.  There was an intriguing intimacy to the place tonight that had not been noticeable then.   It was probably the lighting, he decided, after giving the matter a little more attention.   A variety of fish floated slowly and serenely through a fantasy seascape in the large, lighted aquarium, but beyond that and the desk lamps, the only other light in the room was that cast by the fire which burned with a warm, red glow in the old brick fireplace.

Unless he was mistaken, that fireplace was also the only source of heat the old cottage had. Outside, a cold wind gusted in the darkness, yet the atmosphere inside was cozy and warm.

©PG Forte 2005
Sound of a Voice That Is Still

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