May 4: Flash Fiction

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

May 4, 2016

May 4Snow-melt seeps from mountain glens spongy with spring moss and early ferns. A multitude of trickles gain momentum and cascade as effervescent waterfalls. Water the color of soft green sea glass slams into black metamorphic outcroppings and tumbles over granite boulders, stones, pebbles and sand. Stand along the roar of the Pack River in early May and you feel the vibration of life.

Sand is what makes the region of north Idaho unique. It filters the water and leaves no muddy residue like other western US rivers flowing in spring torrents. It’s my first excursion up the Pack River since the spring melt began with March rains. The Pack is near to cresting in the flood planes and higher up in the Selkirk Mountains it jumps normal channels to reconnect broken oxbows. The color is stunning, the clarity a polished lens, and the sound a concert of rushing vibration.

I once wrote of this river as my Peace of Idaho. The Pack is close to my home and my heart — it’s where I go to cool down or cool my heels; to read or watch the Hub cast a fly for trout; to let the dogs expend their energy. The Pack River is also where Grendel was attacked by a bear last summer. Maybe that’s when I began to shut down. I let fear and grief and worry shut me out of my favorite place. I refused to go up the Pack after that, after Kate. Instead I pulled weeds for a property I do not own. Now I seek its solace once again.

While it is healthy to reflect and recalculate, it’s equally healthy to take action and confront the issues. Change what can be changed, make new choices and carry on with the original intent. A friend from Minnesota visited, lured by my stories and photos. She reminded me of what I can stake claim to. Thus I made the choice to reclaim my Peace of Idaho. I live in bear country, not in fear. It’s a lesson I take to my current circumstances — risks might exist but they do not rule me. I am a writer and I can resolve, explore, express. I can create.

A rush of water goes straight to my head, and all else is distraction.

Feeling ready for a triumph, I took my friend and her daughter on a Pack River tour in my white farm truck, stopping at key points along way. First was the swimming hole, the place that calls me to strip down to my bare writing soul. I’ve been writing an experimental fiction for The DICTION AERIE ™ a new lit-blog I think many of you will like. The editor, John Hessburg, is a dear friend and a multi-talented American essayist, poet and adventure guide. He’s inspired me to re-purpose pieces of my Pack River essays into a fictional exploration of this one swimming hole through the web of multiple perspectives. For those of you who recall my flash fiction character of Ramona, her story will unfold here, at the swimming hole. My experiment is called, An American Idyll: the Pack River Chronicles — first of “The Rio Trios.”

Thus walking down to the river in full flush, to witness the swimming hole as turbulent water, was a powerful affirmation. Change happens, and I won’t be washed away. I thought about Ramona and Viola and the bear while I stood on the wet sandbar. My friend snapped photos and we laughed over the roar of water. I walked along the edge and stepped into a congregation of sand fairies.  Suddenly I was enveloped by a fluttering cyclone of tiny purple wings. Stunned, I stood and watched dozens of periwinkle butterflies flutter and re-settle upon the sand bar. With wings folded up, they match the sand; open thy exhibit the color of their name. In my Ramona stories, there are twin fairies. Kate’s last name was Ferry. I stood on sacred ground and felt the mysteries of life surround me.

After that, I had no residual fear of the bear that bit Grenny.  I stayed alert, and encountered more periwinkles at the site of Grendel’s attack. I even helped my friend find an Idaho garnet embedded in a stone of grizzled granite. We followed deer tracks in the sand and pondered over the canine tracks. We marveled at the Pack River jumping its normal course and at the flood damage to what used to be a long, flat sand bar for bonfires and camping. Now it had a ragged scar. Like Grenny. Scars mark, but wounds heal. We might not be the same as before, but who ever said we were to remain unchanged? When we left the river’s edge to go back to the truck, I noticed the bear poop, nodded and accepted that bears live here, too.

Poop seemed to dominate the rest of our stops. Moose poop, elk poop, itty-bitty deer poop, and a fairly fresh pile of more bear poop. This amused my friend. As we climbed higher into the mountain canyon we could hear waterfalls. I pointed out the tall dead trees that towered like charcoal ghosts above the forest and explained that those sentinels were what remained of the 1910 forest fires in this area. I told her to look for burned out stumps to get an idea of how much bigger the old growth trees had been. She spotted some and wanted her picture beside the stumps, even getting into one large enough to park a small car within. She said all writers who visit north Idaho should experience standing in the trunk. My friend understands the essence of inspiration!

We crossed a major waterfall and sat along side it for a while. The energy of the water is healing and invigorating. I wanted to sit in the waterfall, but it was fresh snow-melt and cold. We couldn’t get much further, the road was blocked by snow. I had to back up, a tricky feat given the narrow passage and the sheer drop to the Pack River below. I paid close attention to that side, but drove off into the barrel ditch on the other side, dropping into a culvert hole. That wonderful Selkirk Mountain sand spun my tires and I was soon stuck. 4WD to the rescue and my friend who helped pack tree limbs beneath the sand-stuck tire. We soon were free and laughed off our moment of uncertainty.

Isn’t that so in life? Uncertainty, a moment or a season, passes too.

In my own uncertainty, I know this truth — writing is not a fleeting periwinkle. As much as I talk about platform, career and craft, I also understand writing’s creative hold on my psyche. There’s a part of it I can’t describe but have to feed and unleash. When fairies hold me captive for mere seconds, I want a lifetime to explore the experience.

All of you who write, read or comment here, I want to express my gratitude. Some days, I walk the trails of Carrot Ranch marveling at the gifts you each bring in your willingness to share among a literary community. Thank you Prompt Hands: Lisa Reiter, Norah Colvin and Anne Goodwin for stepping in to run the ranch while I renewed my head, heart and attitude. Thank you Sarah Brentyn for carrying on with the process of editing our first anthology. Thank you Ann Edall-Robson for challenging and inspiring me to develop clearer writing retreat opportunities and for sharing event planning expertise. Thank you Sacha Black for inspiring me and your willingness to talk shop about craft and marketing. Thank you Ruchira for not giving up on me when your links didn’t show up and for including me in your writing process. Thank you for the kind emails Irene Waters and Jules Paige. Your care and concern held me up. Thank you Sherri Matthews for keeping me on track with writing, hope and inspiration — thank you for the foxes, dreams and friendship. Thank you Larry LaForge, Pete Fanning, Deborah Lee, Bill Engelson, Geoff Le Pard, Jane Doughtery, Ula Humienik, for carrying on the writing week after week. Welcome Elliott Lyngreen and Gulara Vincent, thank you for sharing in my absence. Thank you to all the Rough Writers & Friends who participate when possible, share among circles and read the words here. To the unknown readers, I might not know your name but your presence is felt and appreciated! Thank you my dearest patrons, Nae, Aunt M and Cuz K. Thank you Paula Moyer for family kinship and friendly cheerleading. Thank you Katherine and Susie for your wisdom and prayers. Thank you to my three amazing offspring (and SIL) for staying calm when Mum freaks out, for the plane tickets to see Runner graduate with his Masters and for your belief in me. Thank you Pat for your uplifting visit. Thank you for all the regional writers who’ve shown up to Wrangling Words or Open Mic Night or shared lunches in Sandpoint. Patty Jo, you are my Clark Fork rock. Thank you Binders, especially my Montana Binders and our dauntless national leader, Leigh.

Community matters to writers. Carrot Ranch is a hub. May you benefit from being here among a vibrant and diverse group held together by the literary arts, no matter how few 99 words might be.

We all thrive in community, not in isolation. Writing can be a solo act at times, but it’s true calling is the connection between writer and reader, a relationship not solitude. Writers thrive in a safe community and that’s what the ranch is. A place to explore; a place to take risks in craft; a place to experiment; a place to connect. Inspire and be inspired. No judgement, no criticism or critique, free range to play and practice. There’s no obligations or expectations. Participate in the way that fulfills your writing needs. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, to appreciate a different perspective and take risks.

Let’s get to fairies and butterflies. Which side do you stand for — supernatural or science? If you walked through a congregation of periwinkles would you write something practical or magical? Do you ever watch bees collect pollen or fear getting stung? While my friend stayed over we sat under the apple tree overlooking Elmira Pond and listened to the steady hum of bees and traffic. Nature is always close to us. This week, take a closer look around you for inspiration.

May 4, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include insects in a story. Periwinkles, bees laden with pollen, ants building hills. What can insects add to a story? Do they foreshadow, set a tone, provide a scientific point of interest or a mystical element? Let you inner periwinkles fly!

Respond by May 10, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Hail From Hell by Charli Mills

“Thunderheads, Nancy Jane. They’re so black.” Sarah scanned the sky where clouds spread like spilled ink. No wind, yet the clouds grew.

“Get on your horse, now Sarah. We gotta ride like them Express fellas.” Nancy Jane had already unhobbled the two horses and was handing the reins of one to Sarah.

“But the elk?” Sarah had ridden out with Nancy Jane to hunt the migrating herds near Rock Creek Station. She’d half dressed the one she’d shot.

“No time, Sar. Them ain’t clouds.”

The horizon darkened; the black expanding. “Not clouds?”

“Ride! We gotta outrun them hoppers hell’s released!”


Author’s Note: the Nebraska prairie experienced extreme autumn invasions of locust. Pioneers recorded swarms that filled the sky. Yet, the locust went extinct just a few decades after settlement.

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  1. Sarah Brentyn

    Good to see you back at the Ranch. Full of poop and butterflies. 🙂 (I’m thrilled you did that multiple perspecitve swimming hole piece. Looking forward to reading that!)

    Writing really is a solo act but, here, there is no doubt we have a community. <3

    Great flash. Nice to see Rock Creek again.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! Yep — full of poop & butterflies! I’m excited for that piece and I’ve been testing material at open mic night. Carrot Ranch challenges and open mic events are both incubators for new work or experiments. True, the writing itself is solo, but the connectivity at either end (inspiration and the opp to be read) holds us in community arms. <3 Thanks, Sarah!

  2. jeanne229

    Good to see your post today, Charli (though I’ve not ignored the guest posts from Lisa, Norah and Anne.) And wonderful to take a dip in your lyrical prose. I sit here in my study, dreading the coming lock-down that an Arizona summer imposes, and dream of rushing water. What a vivid place you inhabit. Both geographical and literary. I’ve missed the Ranch. I know it’s my own damn fault. Spending my best energy on the client’s book (and on worrying….ahh the uncertainty trap you speak of), sparing none for the creative endeavors that nourish me. But here I am today. I vow to get a flash piece in on insects. Loved your flash, too. Your dialogue is so authentic. Great how you revealed the reality of that cloud at the end.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jeanne! I respect your commitment to client and I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be out of one of my contracts though I didn’t get paid. Really fries me to give so much of my time and skill to someone else and then get stiffed. A good client deserves our attention, though and like your Arizona lock-down, it’s just a season! Come up here and play, in person or in imagination! <3

  3. TanGental

    Great to see you back, pondering life and stuff by the Pack. The flash piece brought back a black and white film that had a locust attack at its heart – wish i could remember what it was but it really made an impression on the young me back in the 60s sometime. And your musings on community are spot on. Even though I sit and type in my own little bubble I’m having conversations in my head and some of them are with you when I work on a Carrot Ranch prompt. This, too, is part of that chat, since I know you’ll read it and think about a reply – and in those decoupled moments we have a writers’ conversation.

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes I think of all those bubbles bouncing around the world, chats floating between space and time. Even if the conversations are held in the head, they are conversations nonetheless. Good to be floating and musing once again. The locust must have been a sight to behold. They went extinct before the turn of the 20th century, but they left an enduring impression.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I’m interested that your locusts became extinct. Ours still fly. Did they do some kind of extermination on them?

      • Charli Mills

        There’s speculation that as the prairies filled with farms, plowing and irrigation disrupted their cycles and by the 1900s they were extinct: I’m amazed to learn Australia has locusts! These were thought to travel on low jet-streams, thus swarms often arrived like bad weather .

    • Charli Mills

      Go where it leads, Kerry!

    • A. E. Robson


    • Charli Mills

      All gender identities welcome! What I like is the variety of locations — all around the globe. Yes, get in the mix! Sounds like an interesting take on the prompt.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        I think its a great place Charli. I think it just dawned on me.. Perfect prompt for the advent of spring.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Defintely trying to inspire some out of hibernation and to feast. And Thanks for reading. … My next layer to unravel – commenting on the great flashes without suggesting changes. I cant read anything without wanting to rewrite it. One thing at a time.

      • Charli Mills

        Creation is the goal here. I don’t emphasise critiques or suggest rewrites. This is a site for incubation. We all struggle with that inner editor so this is space to free write, explore, ponder. In commenting I look for the nugget that resonates with me, which is my own perspective. Like at Open Mic night, it’s a way to see what connects to those reading or hearing.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        My apologies. I felt it an interesting challenge. Its not so much i want to rewrite, edit, or even critique. I just think words can be cut out. Of course it would change the voice…. but i do feel a disonnection. I get the spirit but lose the feeling. It is though what it resonates to me.

      • Charli Mills

        In marketing, as in creative writing, I noticed that we tend to correct, dismantle, or focus on what doesn’t work. I came across something called “appreciative study” which essentially focuses on what good an organization does and builds upon that instead of exposing what it needs to do better. Later, I became a proponent of StrengthsFinder. Of course, my biggest strength is Maximizer which means I love building upon strengths, so naturally that whole concept suit me! It’s not formalized at the ranch, but that’s how I lead — by encouraging other writers based on what does resonate in their work. Often writers are shy or suffer from self-doubt. Helping people recognize their authentic strengths is how I built marketing teams and how I hope I encourage other writers. Critique definitely has a vital place in improvement and process but that’s individual and often an issue of trust. Here, I want people to play, to ride and experiment and learn from observing each other. No need to apologize. I found what you did interesting and it might be an experiment you want to invite others to do with the expectation of what the outcome would be.

    • Pat Cummings

      You’re welcome to guest-edit my flashes, Elliot. Though I reserve the right to ignore your Persistent Inner Editor with all the skill I’ve garnered in learning to ignore my own!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Never know, might surprise ya. But its good to know im not alone in that.

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Here you go Pat..

        A spring somewhere uphill feeds the soggy ditch parallel with our road. Every road we’ve surveyed has its own mosquito bog. I squint through the transit downhill to the leveling rod my partner holds. Jotting numbers, spot this skeeter on my hand –

        -Whap! Double-over my notebook on the blood-sucker.

        I turn the transit to the back-line stake. Wipe my sweaty forehead. Swat a team of gnats. My hand comes away gripped by another mosquito -whap!

        Later that night, all I can count is bug bites. Scratching calculations from my surveyor’s notes, I figure more dead mosquitoes than numbers, results.

      • Charli Mills

        It takes years to hone the off mode for the Inner Editor.

      • Pat Cummings

        Hearing a buzz, a whine, I WHAP my surveyor’s notebook and return to work. The dead PIE bleeds unheeded on the page…

        If I can work through skeeters and gnats, Charli and Elliott, I can certainly ignore an Inner Editor. Even an external one!

  4. denmaniacs4

    Powerful writing, Charli…welcome back.

    Night Sounds

    Hank and Merle Taylor proved to be considerate hosts. They’d fed Aggie a filling meal of cornbread and frijoles, and then left her to her own company.

    A dry evening wind slipped in through the window of her temporary bedroom.

    The night was crackling loud.

    She prayed for Dobbs, weighed down by his violent and cheerless mission.

    Her senses primed, she was sure she could hear scratching in the walls.

    Her dancing candle cast a long shadow to the floor.

    They were foraging with military precision, venomous, unassailable.

    “Damn fire devils,” she cursed quietly, futilely, “Get thee to hell.”

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Bill! Oh, I actually love refried frijoles and Dutch oven cornbread made over a campfire. Best is when you can afford a slab of steak! The creepy crawlies in the walls, though, that is a disconcerting night sound and set the tension for your unfolding story.

  5. Oliana

    I have been away April and reading your post, reminds me just how much I enjoy reading your stories. I learn a little bit each time. I love the river, having lived by one growing up. I missed flash fictions too…now to think about that bug 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Good to see you back at the ranch! So many of the rivers in my area wander back and forth between your country and mine! Nothing quite like that rushing sound of water over rocks.

      • Oliana

        Ah yes indeed, my favourite place are the Chambly rapids where I raised my kids…I have started going on June 22nd to celebrate my mom’s bd since she passed, soaking my feet in the water.

      • Charli Mills

        Chambly rapids sound like a refreshing place to remember and renew.

    • Charli Mills

      A great perspective and I’m glad you found inspiration in a childhood memory.

  6. julespaige

    One year at the beach we stumbled upon a ladybug nest – right at the shore line! There is magic in nature. I think nature and magic can be one and the same. 🙂

    Charli – thank you! Hoping all continues to go well. Moving can be hard. But I was once told after six months things feel much better. And you have a head start with a supportive local (and net) community.

    Celebrate Celastrina

    I found Periwinkles in Indiana. They like pussywillow. The
    bushes lined the walkway from the back end of the garage
    all the way to the family room’s sliding doors – twenty or
    thirty feet of overgrown bushes.

    In that time of spring when the fuzzy bud blooms there were
    hundreds them – they must have been catching the last rays
    of day, decided in unison that they were finished and fluttered.

    I didn’t know what they were at the time. And was never
    able to recapture that magic moment. I guess I was in the
    right place at the right time…


    Link to post and other info links here:
    Celebrate Celastrina

    • Charli Mills

      When you experience moments like this, nature and magic seem companionable. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lady bug nest. I love the imagery of periwinkles among the pussywillow.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Larry! And thanks for a “bugged” story!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Susan! Good to hear the creak of saddle leather again. And congratulations on the release of your new children’s book!

  7. Pat Cummings

    By happenstance (a cloud of pesty tasks I had delayed until they finally overwhelmed and pre-empted my writing schedule), I missed the guest prompts. I’m glad you’re back, Charli, and glad I’m back as well, with a true flash about pests: Surveying Skeeters at

    • Charli Mills

      Those pesty task swarms can overwhelm like gnats on an elk! Thanks, Pat. Good to be back! Your title has me itching to read! 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, dear! Yes, I asked for it, didn’t I? 😀

      • Jane Dougherty

        I hope you got swarms of them 🙂

    • Pat Cummings

      Great flash (though horrific in the BEST sense), and coupled with a super photo!

      • Jane Dougherty

        Spiders and sharks. Can’t beat em 🙂

  8. A. E. Robson

    Bumble Bees and Lady Bugs are welcome visitors in the garden. Watching them do their thing provides hours of enjoyment.

    Lift Off
    By Ann Edall-Robson

    From beside the deck, I watched the Bumble Bee foraging on the thick, creamy blossoms of the Goats Beard plant. Harvesting pollen and leaving their scent on the buds they had already ravaged. Hind legs laden with generous amounts of rich, yellow treasure.

    As I stood in the sun, enjoying Mother Nature’s spectacular performance only a few feet away, I wondered if this tiny insect would be capable of taking its booty back to the hive. 

    With very little effort, and a quiet buzzing, lift off was achieved before my eyes. Hovering only for a second, the bee disappeared.

    • Charli Mills

      That pollen-laden lift off is always a wonder to watch! Your flash brought me into the scene.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ruchira! And I found that your comments have been landing in spam. Sheesh…sorry about WP’s behavior!

  9. Annecdotist

    Great to see you back, and in such good form, Charli. I think your imagination is like a cloud of butterflies: full of colour and exploration. Good to catch up with Rock Creek too.
    Now, you’ll see from my post I would have preferred a prompt on squirrels this week (!) but I had fun with the insects
    Seropurulent: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie
    Need to pop back later and catch up on the others.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Anne, and for your guest post last week, too! We have a joke based on the distracted attention of a dog — look! a squirrel! Glad you had fun with insects. 🙂

    • elliotttlyngreen

      I would be all for a squirrel flash.. (((((adding to your telepathic vibes anne))))….

    • Pat Cummings

      Not having dogs right now, Charli, we attribute a similar distraction to ferrets: “I’m totally focused on this scent and… Look! a leaf!” It would be interesting to see how many squirrel flashes are about fluffy-tailed sweeties, and how many about tree-rats…

      • Charli Mills

        Hmm…sweet squirrels…think that might score low! But worth an experiment!

  10. Sherri

    Ahh Charli, your post moves me on so many levels. I’ve never been to Northern Idaho, but I think of the waterfalls at Yosemite and can only imagine you have the same magnificent beauty on your doorstep. Fairies, Periwinkle butterflies… you had more than a magical moment, you had an epiphany. How wonderful that your friend’s visit helped you claim back what is yours for the taking, your freedom to enjoy once more your respite at the river. You need that, yet so often it seems that those things we need the most come under threat when we least expect it. And your flash…well, I can see those hoppers now, and I have to say, they freak me out! Great writing as always. It’s wonderful to see you back at the Ranch, sharing your stories, your experiences, your honesty. I will be back to check out your links shortly, how exciting! Meanwhile, I did manage to get a flash just in time…and thank you Charli for everything you bring to us at the Ranch. Sending you the best of everything <3

    The Hum of the Sea

    Fingers of sea-mist stroked her face as it rolled in across the harbour. She shivered.

    A distant fog horn played its mournful warning. How many lives had it saved? Certainly not the one life that had mattered most to her. Her husband, her best friend, her rescuer. But he had rescued others; on wild nights at sea, a lifeboat volunteer, until the sea claimed him also.

    A faint humming, all afternoon, still played with her thoughts. What was it? There, up high by the church spire. Mason bees, in and out of their nest.

    She smiled. Relentless, life moves.

      • Sherri

        Thank you Irene…

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, wow, Sherri — your flash really is moving! The fog is like that sense of not knowing and then the mason bees provide the clarity even through the fog of loss and pain. Good writing! I remember those Sierra waterfalls. Similar in northern Idaho but with ferns and moss. Yosemite is definitely a class of its own — what a wonder that one is! Thank you for all the moments we share across the pond, from butterflies to foxes. <3

      • Sherri

        Thank you Charli, as with Irene and Norah, glad you enjoyed it despite its sadness. All I kept thinking of were those mason bees I saw when I was in Jersey last year with my mum, walking through a beautifully peaceful churchyard overlooking the sea. The first time I saw those Sierra waterfalls I was mesmerised. I hope to see them again one of these days… 🙂

    • Norah

      Lovely thoughts, Sherri and beautiful images in your flash. I especially like your opening line: Fingers of sea-mist stroked her face. It leads into such a sad story.

      • Sherri

        Thank you Norah…

    • jeanne229

      This was lovely. You are a master of imagery Sherri. I could feel those fingers of mist and hear the fog horn. The sea is such a rich theme and you capture both the resignation and the awe we feel in the face of its power. The end reminded me of the particular sensibility expressed in Japanese haiku. I have been carrying the flash with me for days.

      • Sherri

        Thank you Jeanne…I’m touched, I’ve never written Japanese haiku!

  11. jeanne229

    The Sting

    Cleaning day in the new house. The feel of fine grit in the bathtub. She scrubbed, like a woman she’d seen in Oaxaca grinding corn on a stone metate.

    Then, Ow! What the hell? A sliver of glass? She turned to the sink and threw her rag down. Inspected the finger. No blood. Only a suffusion under the skin, as if the tip were blushing.

    She did other chores. The finger grew numb. Still she didn’t realize. Returning, she picked the rag up. The evil thing lay in the bowl, flat, segmented, pincered, its barbed tail ready to strike.

    For the full story, visit

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, chills! That’s a creepy crawler that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The Hub told me of a great-uncle in his native Nevada who built a dugout house and in the spring scorpions would crawl through the earthen walls. Crazy! I love the detail comparing tub scrubbing to corn grinding that clearly places this story in the Southwest.

    • Norah

      Beautiful scenery – but I’d rather not share it with those inhabitants!

  12. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Good to see you taking up the reigns again Charli although Norah and Anne did a sterling job whilst you took a breather. I enjoyed your reclaiming wander through the Pack River. Poop tells everything on such a trek. You are right also – community is so essential on so many different levels. I for one am very happy to be part of the community here. We get similar black clouds over our plains here and I think you described it well and built the tension perfectly. Mine this week

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene, it’s good to be back! I’m grateful for the community here and for the writing we all get to share each week. I was so surprised to realize that Australia has locust like the ones that once covered the American prairies. Further surprised that yours still prosper. Not sure if an exact reason was ever discovered why ours became extinct after 30 years of settlement. Nebraska was one of the hardest hit areas when they swarmed.

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        I can just imagine the devastation as we get them also but thankfully not in swarms and the devastation just a few can cause my garden it must be heart breaking for farmers watching their crops razed to the ground.

      • Charli Mills

        That would be a heart-breaking sight. Wow. I thought it was a thing of the past!

  13. Norah

    Hi Charli,
    I apologise. I can’t believe I have been here and read, followed links to other posts and flash fiction stories, commented on comments, and not left a comment of my own! All I can offer as an excuse is that I got distracted by all of those things! And, I think there is so much richness in your post I almost don’t know where to start.
    The poetic beauty of your opening paragraph just stuns me. It is beautiful writing and very much fulfills the requirements of the Diction-Aerie. Thank you for linking to it, though I couldn’t see any way of following to receive email notifications. Does each category need to be followed individually? Anyway, I was pleased to see you listed as a contributor and read your Pack River writing over there. I left a comment there, as well as on your linked Elmira Pond post. You are definitely skilled in wrangling words. I love reading your writing. The pictures you paint with words are vivid. I admire your skills of observation.
    Thank you for the acknowledgement. I think I receive far more than I can ever hope to provide, and am happy to help out in any way I can.
    I really enjoyed your flash, though a cloud of locusts that size would be horrifying. Hub and I drove through a huge swarm of locusts (which still exist in Australia many years ago. Well I think we had to stop as we couldn’t see the road when we were in the middle of it. I almost felt as if I couldn’t breathe it was so thick. And we were picking locusts out of the grill for a long time after – not to mention wiping their splattered bodies off the windscreen and car body.
    I hope Nancy Jane and Sarah got away in time. Pity they had to leave their venison.
    Of course I enjoyed reading about your nature observations, and my favourite butterflies.
    I’ll be back with my flash in a little while. Hopefully it might surprise you!

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Norah for both your kind words and for reading beyond this post. I know that John was thrilled to get a comment. I’m not sure how he has his features set up. I’m enjoying the project as I’m using material I generated at Elmira Pond Spotter, as well as in some flash fictions here. I still can’t get over that you have locust in Australia! I never knew! And with our strange extinction, I didn’t realize there was a modern correlation. How eerie to drive into a swarm of them. Thank you for the link! And I look forward to your surprise!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. I enjoy reading your writing whenever I can make the time to do so. There are always so many demands on our time it’s impossible to get to everything. I was pleased to be the first one commenting on your post; and, coming via you, will make John realise even more just how valuable you are! 🙂 I was surprised that your locusts became extinct. I think a lot of farmers would wish for that here!

      • Charli Mills

        If only we knew how we made ours meet early extinction!

    • Charli Mills

      A swarm of great links in your post, too!

      • Norah

        Thanks, Charli. I was bitten by the bug! 🙂

  14. C. Jai Ferry

    So many good intentions have gone astray in the last few weeks (gulp…months), but I am determined to get back on the bandwagon. Grateful for the community you have built here and the inspiring prompt and responses from everyone.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi C Jai! Good to see you at the ranch, though I see you’ve been busy with your tractor, dog and wildlife in Nebraska. 🙂 The community is here and pop in when you can! Thank you for being a part of it!

  15. elliotttlyngreen

    Thought i was the only one. Feel free to edit mine, Pat. Maybe we could shift stories. But thats another experiment

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Tony! Welcome back to the ranch! I’ll have to catch up on your A-Z challenge. Off to find out how you deal with bugs… 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      House-hunting is shifty business. I have a good lead if we can wait until September. I’ll camp if it this place sells before that. Failure is not an option! You can come out here and camp with me! 🙂 Something will open up for us both. And perhaps for Jane, one day.

  16. Deborah Lee

    And…thank you for the nod! Thank you for hosting here and giving so much encouragement.

    • Charli Mills

      You are welcome! It’s a mutual appreciation!

  17. Sacha Black

    I’m wading through sludge here, REALLY behind with everything. But wanted you to know I’d read this and you are always welcome. Thank you for everything you do for us. For inspiring, teaching and corralling us :p I hope you had a lovely birthday and have found a new home <3 thinking of you. xx


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