Apples litter the dry grass unseasonably. Too many, too early and I know in my head I should feel sad, but in my heart I’ve no more room for such feeling. The heat-wave turned into a drought, and I hardly recognize my yard after returning from two weeks in Montana. A dry wind blows, and morning arrives without its customary mist and dew. The pond looks stagnate and the pastures weedy. A disheartening sight.
I scan the ground and add up the destruction:
- Apple crop, failed.
- Cherry tree, leafless, fruitless;
- Numerous bean plants, gone;
- Squash plants wilted like limp elephant ears;
- Flowers on the back porch burnt like toast;
- Grass crisp and yellow;
- Best friend, dead.
What am I to do? The house is dark to ward off the heat and I can’t stand it, yet the outside is filled with light, deadly and hot. I can only do one thing at a time. So I stay outside to water the potato plants that are flourishing in the sandy, hot soil. Strange things, potatoes. They thrive in suffering conditions.
Water arcs high in the air as the sprinkler makes its sweep. Already the sun is approaching the western ridge and sunlight sparkles in each water droplet like light on a diamond diadem. A hummingbird pauses in the spectacle, tiny wings flung open with gusto, and I think, am I really seeing this? Life doesn’t linger in the shadows, it plays out loud in the light, the water, the beauty that can’t be squelched by conditions.
The world feels as if it’s unhinged from its rotation. I want to see destruction, I want to feel sad. Yet, still it spins, different, but dynamically. I notice that I can still step one foot in front of the other in this new rotation. Thus I water the squash plants and they revive. The next day, I replace the crisp porch flowers with new ones and even crack a joke at the nursery not far from my home: “I bet the only people buying more annuals this time of year are the ones killing their plants.” The cashier smiles blandly.
It’s not a good joke.
Drought, it seems, makes knapweed easier to pull. The bane of ranches, a noxious weed, knapweed has spread in the heat, but instead of digging it out, I can simply pull. Well, it’s not entirely simple, but it’s satisfying to uproot something. Monday dawns with a new routine: up at 5:30 to fix the Hub sausages and bagels; watering; weeding; cleaning the house one thing at a time. Like picking up remnants of corn husks from the carpets.
Don’t ask me; ask the dogs. Evidently they were naughty and got into corn while I was away.
Outside does me good, like a sick person in need of fresh air. I expand my lungs, long and deep, exhale. I fill my big red cup with cold well water and drink it down as I sweat. And fill it again. Mowing seems like a good way to knock down the dry grass, and already I can see green responding to my ongoing watering efforts.
Living water. I’m opening up like the hummingbird.
I take the dogs on long romps around Elmira Pond in the afternoons. The Miracle of the Bear is that after Grenny encountered one (and survived), he no longer runs off. He’s a German Short-haired Pointer with boundless energy even at 10 years old and running off meant miles. He once had me praying hard for chickens after running off our property. Now he’s content to hang out around the pond and pastures.
Contentment can be about perspective.
Standing at the pond, watching Grenny happily leap after frogs, I look back at my apple tree and feel stunned. What I had assumed was a failed crop, is not so. At this vantage, I can see plenty of apples left in the tree, some already blush with red. My garden has holes, but I can fill the gaps. My lawn is responding to water and the pond still holds much avian life. My friend is gone, but I have her family to connect with, new friends to grow with and memories to share.
Not all conditions I can change, but I can be content with what is left and with what I can do. In less than a week, my gardens and lawns have responded to life-giving efforts. I can choose to look up when all I see is down. A scattering of dropped apples is not the end. Nor is the loss of a friend.
Perspective varies. There’s the faith view of salvation and heaven; the hopeful view of a better place; the practical view of no more suffering; and the scientific view that energy cannot be destroyed. Energy. Life. Creation. It all continues, perhaps differently, but always in one form or another.
And I cannot help but be swept up by the sight of a water-crowned hummingbird. My eyes do not linger long on fallen fruit.
July 22, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that has a shift in perspective. It can be a transition of one character or a change between character points of view. Go where the prompt leads, either technically or creatively.
Respond by July 28, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!
Silver Thieves by Charli Mills
“Where’s the silver buried?” Carla snarled at the old woman.
“It ain’t here, Carla.” Vernon stomped his boots, entering the cabin.
Carla shoved the old lady down. “I know you buried it!” Spittle frothed on her lips, rabid. “Bah! Worthless!”
“We’ll be watching you, Old Woman.” Vernon pointed his shovel in her downcast face.
They left and she slowly stood. Silver! If she had silver she wouldn’t live here. She opened the locket they had cast aside. Brass. Tarnished. Inside his eyes twinkled like the greatest treasure she ever knew. Time and thieves would never rob her of love.