Husband and I become the apple
Bond of Union, 1956, by M. C. Escher
"What is apple skin made of?," my seven-year-old daughter asked as we motored cross-country in our venerable Volkswagon bus complete with pop-up tent camper. It's just another part of the apple," I supplied reassuringly knowing she was nursing a fever from a cold.
"No, I mean what is it made of, that skin?". Hoping to escape the quantum field of play, beyond our mutual abilities to comprehend or explain, I offered, "It's like our skin, it has cells and they cooperate to protect the apple inside as our skin protects us."
Husband remained with eyes glued to the road, mercilessly determined to have his family experience sea-to-shining-sea quality time in the summer of 1977.
As I feared, my child pursued her quest for the one answer to quiet her curiosity, the one still eluding me. Then came the tears: first mine, then hers.
We had forged much deeper into the mystery of apple skin and human skin than the problem required, I reflected. As I turned to face the backseat of our bumpy, noisy conveyance to deliver my final launch of subatomic particles, of fields and spheres, of string theory and black holes (even though they hadn't been conceived yet), my angel was asleep. Good job I congratulated myself. Husband remarked confidently, "We'll be in Yellowstone by evening."