Trowel was a Turkish word I didn’t know, so I improvised. Hardly had I requested a pocket-sized spade, however, before the ironmonger’s eyes were narrowing to wary slits. It had not crossed my mind that laying my hands on a trowel might present a problem in a place like Dinar. How but with trowels had the chillies, peppers and aubergines that ran amok in the scruffy little town’s kitchen gardens been planted? What of the geraniums that bloomed in rusty cooking oil tins at the foot of whitewashed walls? The potted pine saplings that stood in long rows at the state railway’s nursery opposite the station? And the apple and cherry orchards that blossomed across the springtime plains west of the town? Dinar was where Turkey’s fertile western lowlands, liberally watered by the Meander’s springs, ran up against the plateau interior to breed a last-ditch growing fervour among the locals – but one that their ironmonger did not appear to share.

My divorce sent me spinning. But not necessarily in a bad way.

Before January of this year, I harbored the illusion that the life I was living was a life I would basically live until the day I died. I would be married to the woman who mothered my children, I would write novels, and I would participate yearly in some sort of male demon-exorcising ritual—I’d run a marathon, or climb Mt. Hood, or spend a week at Cycle Oregon with my brothers. The stability made me happy, even if the marriage was quarrelsome and the novels a financial sinkhole. I was a respectable American citizen.