March 25As we drive to Spokane at 4 in the morning, all is dark. My job as side-seat driver is to scan the narrow shoulders between forest and pavement for eyes — often the only warning before a deer, elk or moose dashes onto the road. As the black sky turns purple, I can distinguish tall pines from the darkness. They look like construction paper cut-outs against the illuminating horizon. I’m no longer searching for eyes, caught up in this wonder of early morning twilight.

We arrive ahead of schedule to the VA clinic in Spokane. It’s one of many buildings on a large medical campus for veterans of US military. The Hub had test results that require more tests. While grateful that he’s finally getting the benefits he earned in service to his country, I grumble mentally over modern medicine in general. In my estimation, it relies too much on technology and disregards common sense and simple solutions. Regardless, his job won’t let him drive until he is fully diagnosed and under the care of a physician.

But like many doors we’ve encountered since seeking this medical care, the VA clinic door is locked. The interior is as dark as a 4 a.m. forest. “Coffee?” I ask.

What else can we do at this early hour in the city.

Starbucks is a familiar sight. Having spread from Seattle across the globe like an infectious disease, one can always find early morning coffee. Inside the smell of pungent brew dominates. Pastries line a lit counter case, promising of sweet tastes. Hip music and smiling baristas add to the vibe. I can almost drink coffee without thinking of birds.

Birds and coffee are my usual mornings now that rainy spring has arrived. I have at least three sets of binoculars set in key places. Upstairs I keep the best ones at the window by my desk. It overlooks Elmira Pond where March Madness has taken hold. Birding has taught me much about observation. For the past three weeks I’ve crafted a March Madness series, sharing in writing what I’ve learned about the birds.

At Starbucks I stare across the rim of my cup at a strip-mall parking lot. It looks empty, yet often I look at Elmira Pond and it looks empty, too. Parking lots and ponds can speak to us about emptiness. Why is that? Or is it simply a mark of a writer, someone who observes and derives meaning from the mundane?

Goodness, give a writer something meatier than an empty parking lot like a movement of other writers and the world comes alive as if it were a tent-revival. It’s a special dynamic when writers collide in the universe — I’m convinced it makes creative particles jump and jive like unseen dark matter that makes up everything we do see. No wonder the weekly compilations take on greater depth once knitted together, or that #1000Speak would become a force like wind.

Thus connecting a compilation to a monthly movement can move literary creativity through a conduit of meaning. Once a month we will take part in this greater experience with a prompt that supports bloggers on a mission to speak compassion. If you are a blogger interested in upcoming prompt ideas for #1000Speak’s April theme of nurturing, see the list here. If you are a writer without a blog, but want to participate, email the organizers with your story before April 20, 2015: 1000Speak@gmail.com.

Next month, you can expect Carrot Ranch writing prompts that will also support the nurturing of nature as we approach Earth Day (April 22). Which brings me back to parking lots and ponds. It’s like a juxtaposition, to compare concrete to organic matter, and deduce meaning from the intersection. So that is where we will go.

March 25, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a juxtaposition between the ordinary and natural worlds. It can be civilization and nature; an edifice and a nest or cave; a human act and a natural occurrence; acculturation and adaptation. Compare or contrast as the prompt leads you to write.

Respond by March 31, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

I’ll be heading to LABinderCon on Friday, coming home on Monday. I think my internet will be better in California — with the recent problems I’ve had with my satellite provider, smoke signals would be better. Just in case, know that I’m traveling if I’m not responsive over the weekend. I expect to return with a head full of learning to sort and share, and perhaps know what my next Rodeo Ride will be like.

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Making Friends by Charli Mills

Jenny’s back ached after a night of boiling moose meat, potatoes and rutabagas. She used lard to make rich gravy and flaky crust like her mam did for the copper miners back in Michigan.

Mona Gigliotti stopped by her cabin, pointing at linen-wrapped stacks. “Cosa!”

Her parents’ native Cornish faded in memory, but Jenny now recognized Italian. “Pasties.”

She stepped outside and watched an agile king bird fetch an insect midair and share it with others perched on budding dogwood. Like this bird, she would feed new friends in the Idaho wilderness where her Italian husband planted steel rails.

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