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April 22: Flash Fiction Challenge

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The sun slants differently in April, carrying warmth, bird melodies, and dust motes on rays of midday starlight. I’m lulled to go outside and feel the brisk air softening. Bulbs send shoots to greet the one who will melt the snow. If only Lady Lake Superior would stop playing with cold fronts, dumping more of her white rain. Crocus continue to bloom, tulips unfurl, and glories of the snow live up to their name.

Despite a determined sun, the weather remains fickle. On a sunny Sunday, Mause and I made our way to see my favorite beach at McLean State Park. The campground remains closed, but the shoreline was accessible. We hiked through the forest alongside the lake. I could hear the rush of small waves and turned the pup toward a tall hill. As she crested the outlook, Mause got her first look at the Lady.

And in true German Short-haired Pointer fashion, she pointed.

That night, the snow churned and icicles long as Jack Frost’s fingernails glazed the trees along the shore. In town, on Roberts Street, the robins, squirrels hunkered down and rode out the storm. By Earth Day, all was once again merry and bright. Snow remains in the shadows, but as a good friend who experienced a recent snow storm said, “It’s white mulch.”

Earth Day is a good time to talk about earthing. Also known as grounding, earthing describes interacting with the earth barefoot and bare handed. Like Mause did on the beach.

When the summer sun warms the sand, I love to dig my feet into its grainy depths. Not only does it feel good to my feet and soul, the contact improves my immune system. According to a fully researched article at the US National Library of Medicine, earthing has real health benefits:

“Multi-disciplinary research has revealed that electrically conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth (grounding or earthing) produces intriguing effects on physiology and health. Such effects relate to inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”

The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases by James L Oschman, Gaétan Chevalier, and Richard Brown, 2015

Going barefoot and digging in the garden without gloves is good for you. Earthing is akin to forest bathing. It gets me excited for camping because I also love the energy of sleeping on a pad on the ground. I can’t tolerate the cowboy method of sleeping on the ground, but I realize that as cowboys slept on the trail, they were recharging their batteries every night.

As I come to my final finals week for my MFA, I have one more week after to wrap up and submit my portfolio. Much is uncertain as conditions progress and I shift gears. A part of me wants to collapse, but I will do that on a sun-warmed Keweenaw beach. Like the tulip that breaks ground, we never really know what will greet us — sun, rain, snow, freeze, drought, or the nibbles of a winter-hungry deer. Still, we rise and grow to reveal our true colors. Until then, one day at a time.

Happy Earth Day, one and all.

Do not try to save the world or do anything grandiose.Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently,until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then, will you know how to give yourself to this world so worthy of rescue.

~Martha Postlewaite

Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

~ Linda Hogan

Your sadness doesn’t make you less of a human being. In fact, it makes you more. More expansive. More connected. Painfully beautiful. Raw. Open. Completely alive.

~ Panache Desai

April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by April 27, 2021. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

Earthing on a Working Ranch by Charli Mills

Jerilyn’s house smelled like a barn. The danger of spring calving is weather that plummets into freezing blizzards after the bulbs rise. The night seven cows dropped calves she provided shelter in her newly remodeled kitchen. So much for pristine linoleum. Today, calves and mamas would reunite. Sam saddled their horses while Jeri mopped and dried breakfast dishes. Glancing at her Zen calendar, she realized it was Earth Day. A quote encouraged her to seek earthing, connect with the ground. She wondered if a mouthful of fresh clods counted? She didn’t relish getting thrown from that flighty mare again.

🥕🥕🥕


141 Comments

  1. Love it. Earthing. We can all learn a lot from Mause already, I’m thinking. And those are spot on quotes.
    Jeri has her priorities in order, why wouldn’t she have the calves into the kitchen. I do hope she doesn’t connect with the ground on the ride though.
    Wow. Thursday again. Homestretch, Boss, and yes, one day at a time.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Earthing tomorrow. Running my fingers through the chives to remove last year’s dead stalks. I waited to give the wildlife in the garden time to wake up. Heard my toads before the snow. Peepers out in full force. Yeah, that Mause has lessons packed into her little paws.

      Homestretch…!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Gittin’ Down Ta Earth

    “Kid, whut’re ya doin’?!”
    “Boss’ orders, Pal. Anyways, last week you was all about me takin’ a bath.”
    “Thet ain’t a bath! Yer wallowin’ in the mud! With yer puglet!”
    “A mud bath. I learn from the best. Curly’s a natural at it. Earthin’. Try it, Pal, it’s good fer ya. Might even make ya less ornery.”
    “I’ll show ya ornery ya grimy greenhorn! Oh! No! Whoaaaa!”
    “An’ here ya are, Pal. Don’t that mud feel good?”
    “No! I cain’t stand it. Cain’t stand up neither.”
    “Grab holda Curly’s tail. She’ll pull ya through.”
    “Shorty’ll pull through too.”
    “Yep.”

    Liked by 11 people

  3. “She pointed.” Nothing more to be said. What an awe-inspiring image you craft, Charli.

    Earthing is powerful, if one just believes the contact with bacteria and viruses of the soil will strengthen our immune systems, and the stress relief of being out and away from the fast paced world reduces inflammation, so be it.

    Mother Earth is our home, she needs our love regardless. She’s always ready to offer her own no matter who we have been.

    Liked by 5 people

    • This prompt reignited a deep love. I enjoyed writing this one.

      Here it is:

      Earth’ling

      Liked by 7 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Practicing 99-words helps us find ways to express the images in our brains to others concisely. I love it when it works, Rebecca!

      That’s right — I omitted the microbes and their link to building up immunities and also relieving depression. That’s one reason we started a gardening group at the Vet Center. It feels good to be outside. And in the water! I like that element, as well. And sitting around a campfire, and breathing in fresh air.

      She is our home and we need the mutual love. I’m so pleased this one sparked something deep.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Chel Owens says:

    I got a little lost looking up how to camp at McLain State Park near you. It’s only 25 hours away… 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  5. ellenbest24 says:

    Mother nature delivered the view and the universe positioned you in the place you needed to be. The two conspired with your Muse … or is it Mause. The rest comes with earthly grounding, awareness, commitment, grattitude and patience. Happy earth day Charli.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. […] slight change on a very old tale for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this […]

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Ritu says:

    Look forward to reading the entire, Charli. I’m on a bit of a hiatus, right now 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for sharing the video of Mause’s first look at Lady Lake Superior, Charli. It reminded me of how many of us humans also act when we see such a beautiful sight for the first time, especially if it was not something we were expecting to see. And I’m glad to see that Mause is also a fan of the tennis ball – something we have a lot of in our house. Showing my two dogs a tennis ball being placed in my coat pocket is a sure way of them behaving themselves while out walking.
    I hope the battle between winter and spring soon comes to an end in your part of the world. It’s about time, isn’t it?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m so happy you caught her delight, Hugh! I love catching the wonder of experiencing nature’s beauty. Ha! oh, yes, tennis balls, baseballs, soccer balls, and big rocks are popular with this one.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. denmaniacs4 says:

    Earth Flight

    “He’s gone again.”

    Sam’s an observant orderly. Nothing much gets past him.

    “What is it, third time?”

    “Fourth, I think.”

    “Well, if he sticks true to form, he’ll wander over to…”

    “The Community Garden. I’ll go get him,” Sam offers.

    “My turn, Sam.”

    Sweet Harmony Villa is my baby. Our residents have memory challenges. Some, like the errant Howard Waters, spent their lives ensconced in Corporate seclusion, their senses stifled by concrete and steel.

    Occasionally, brief fluttering’s of childhood joy flash back.

    The pleasure of digging toes in sand and soil.

    Barefoot and delirious, they still seek that out.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    Liked by 9 people

  10. Sowing

    The raised beds were filled with rich well-drained loam that she tilled and prepared for planting. Carefully she marked rows and sowed seeds. She nurtured the seedlings, diligently thinned, weeded, mulched and watered her growing greens and vegetable plants. All the raised beds were lush and verdant, except one.
    One bed remained unplanted, though it was also carefully cultivated, its dark friable soil sun warmed.
    “Welcoming,” she felt.
    Only she knew that she planted that bed every day; planted herself then rose up, brushed herself off, raked the bed smooth, always leaving the garden feeling refreshed, smelling of earth.

    Liked by 8 people

  11. […] If you want to participate, here’s the link: CARROT RANCH […]

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Gathering

    “You wanna get up and run some more?”
    He struck her again. She fell to the ground.
    He stood over her. “Did you really think you could get away from me?”
    Leaf mold pillowed her broken jaw. She couldn’t answer if she’d wanted to.
    “You.” He kicked her.
    “Will not.” Kicked her again.
    “Get.” Kick.
    “Away.” Kick.
    “From me.”
    Then he staggered back to the house, left her where she lay.
    Stretched flat against the cool earth, she reached her fingers and toes deep into the soil. She breathed in the sweet musty air. She gathered strength, gathered courage.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. […] Carrot Ranch Literary Community April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or […]

    Liked by 2 people

  14. My contribution for this week.

    A conversation between Mervyn Martian and Edgar Earthling

    Mervyn: Edgar, what are you doing?
    Edgar: I’m writing a novel.
    M: What is a novel?
    E: It’s a long story that contains characters the writer has invented.
    M: So these ‘characters’ are not real?
    E: Correct.
    M: What will this ‘long story’ be about?
    E: About a man who loves digging the earth in his garden and planting vegetables and flowers to feed and please his friends and family.
    M: Just like you.
    E: And he also has conversations with a Martian.
    M: But these are not lies, they are facts.
    E: Only if I say so, Mervyn.

    Liked by 10 people

  15. Earthing Can only go one way for me/;;

    Ah Spring and for the first I can remove these heavy shoes and woolen socks.

    As I walk through the grass I come across a small patch of mud. Oh, how good it feels between my toes. It is as if a sacred bond is forming between the Erath and my soul. I must have more. I roll up my pants and kneel in the muck thrusting my hands and fingers into the wet slimy earth. The joys of childhood com bounding back. I am young again.

    Later police remove my filthy, naked body. I went too far again.
    ;;;;
    ;;
    ;;
    Lose Weight Laugh for twenty minutes a day

    Liked by 8 people

  16. […] by this prompt from the Carrot Ranch Literary Community: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about […]

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I combined this week’s prompt on earthing with the prompt from GirlieOnTheEdge’s Six Sentence Story challenge “effervescence”.

    Reconnected to Serenity

    Liked by 8 people

  18. Jennie says:

    I didn’t know that contact with the earth helps the immunize system. Best to you as you wrap up your MBA- hooray!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. […] earthy story based on Carrot Ranch’s April 22 Flash Fiction Challenge, which […]

    Liked by 3 people

  20. […] April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Loved your take Charli. Mother Earth can be so soothing. Only if we can make take some time off to appreciate it.
    My take: https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2021/04/the-young-gardener.html

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Norah says:

    What a great post for Earth Day, Charli. I loved Mause’s response to the lake – priceless. I was also interested to read the medical recommendations about earthing. I grew up barefooted, first on a farm and then at the beach. I spend most of my adult life in shoes. Hopefully, I’m reaping the rewards of earlier days. However, I wonder about the children who never get to go barefoot – indoors or out, and especially those who are brought up in cooler climes where going barefoot outdoors is not only impractical but unhealthy.
    One more week of your MFA. How quickly (to me) it has come around. I’m sure what you are thinking and feeling is vastly different. What a wonderful effort, Charli. You have much of which to be pround.
    I enjoyed the quotes, especially these words by Linda Hogan: ‘You are the result of the love of thousands’. That is so profound. I think it is a good match with what Jackie French says when she reminds us that we are ‘descendants of survivors’. Sometimes a phrase strikes with such a degree of precision and clarity is is beautiful, in and of itself.
    Seven calves in one night, in a kitchen. That’s quite a feat too and I think probably qualifies as sufficienct earthing for one night. At least! She doesn’t need any clods to qualify.
    Another rich and enjoyable post. Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Norah says:

      And here’s my response: https://norahcolvin.com/2021/04/28/for-earth-day-flashfiction/

      For Earth Day
      “They’re very quiet,” said Dad.
      “For a change,” said Mum.
      “Suspiciously quiet,” said Dad. Mum didn’t stir — no way she’d abandon her match-3 game mid-level to investigate.
      “Hmpf,” said Dad, marking his page. He slid into his slippers and shuffled to the door.
      “What’re you doin’?” he yelled.
      Two small mud-spattered bodies frolicking under the sprinkler in his freshly-prepared garden bed froze.
      “Nuthin’,” said one.
      The other gaped.
      “Sure don’t look like nuthin’,” said Dad. “Git yerselfs outta there.”
      He killed the sprinkler and fun in one.
      “We thought you made it for us—”
      “—for Earth Day.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      What an interesting idea to ponder, Norah — places where we don’t take off our shoes. I wonder if studies have cross-pollinated between earthing and forest bathing. I’ve certainly felt the uplifting impact of hiking over boulders or through forests. When the heavy lake effect snows drop, the energy of it is so intense. I feel “oxygenated” and drawn to go out into the snow, or other times satisfied to sit at a window and watch. I think there is more to our interaction with natural elements beyond the benefits of dirt.

      I love a profound thought, too! Thanks for witnessing my MFA journey. Last week! Wow. It has whizzed past.

      Your 99-word story carries a bit of a pang. The children so innocently having an earthing moment thought their parent made the fun for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. […] Carrot Ranch April 22 FF April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads! Respond by April 27, 2021. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Jules says:

    Charli,

    I can imagine getting thrown by a flighty mare. I did learn to ride a long time ago. I even watched a cow drop a calf… But that was when I was much younger. So I went with fiction here with this haibun hybird mix:

    Earthing Earthling

    In the dawn she spotted the mourning doves ‘coo pon’ capons?
    T’was a white gown (a nightie really) but down to her bare toes
    She danced, running to scare then no straight seams planned; go, shoo

    These fine avians were her friends she’d fed them stale bread crumbs
    If Grampa caught them there would be squab for lunch, that could not happen
    A zig, a zag there until she fell and rolled in morn’ dew

    off they few across
    the creek, fields and into the
    various spring trees

    safe for perhaps one more day
    dinner would be nut-spread and jam!

    ©JP/dh

    Note: Do you pronounce it “coo-pon” or “cue-pon” and what region are you from? … Coo-pon, New Jersey. … In the US a voucher typically entitles you to a free item – OK slight technical issue. I had to take out the hyphen for the 99 word count to be correct. It didn’t matter either way in the syllable counter.

    (I hope my entry worked… the first time I hid submit – and I wasn’t in for long at all the link expired so I did it a second time…)

    Liked by 4 people

  25. I must really like the theme of earthing, because it showed up in my latest poem too!

    Seeds of Love

    Liked by 4 people

  26. TanGental says:

    The boys are getting back to domesticity

    Earth to Great-Uncle Parfitt

    ‘You look chipper, Morgan.’
    ‘I’ve got my allotment at last.’
    ‘I thought you’d been banned.’
    ‘That was a misunderstanding. His cardigan was a known fire risk.’
    ‘I’ve never understood the attraction.’
    ‘Oh it’ll be grand. Hands in the soil, reconnecting with nature…’
    ‘That’s exactly it. The soil. Goodness knows where it’s been.’
    ‘It’s great for mental and physical well-being. It’s called Earthing.’
    ‘We can agree that earthing is essential.’
    ‘We can?’
    ‘Anyone who witnessed Great-Uncle Parfitt flying across the kitchen when he tried to fix his electric egg cosy would attest to the benefits of sound earthing.’

    Liked by 5 people

  27. […] Carrot Ranch April 22, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a […]

    Liked by 2 people

  28. “The Green Feet Club,” #FlashFiction

    Elsa reached the end of a miserable day. There had been so much death lately. She didn’t know how she would go on.

    She stepped down the path toward the park, a new addition at the hospital. Verdant grass beckoned; she could smell it. At the first bench, she removed her shoes and socks. With her feet planted in the grass, she felt the Earth’s energy soothe her jangled nerves.

    “I see you like earthing,” said Jake from the E.R.

    “I do. It’s the only way I can recover.”

    Jake smiled. “Me, too. Welcome to the green feet club.”

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Charli, I loved Mause’s first big lake visit! WordPress must have done more tweaking. I couldn’t get my ping-back to work. Interesting. When you copy and paste your URL into the comments, you get that great link that shows up. Interesting. You’re in the home stretch! YAY! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  30. […] For this prompt I have imagined a letter from Mother Nature/ Earth/ Gaia to us all. This is part of the Carrot Ranch Challenge. […]

    Liked by 3 people

  31. […] for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join […]

    Liked by 3 people

  32. willowdot21 says:

    Live your story Charlie it really has a gentle reminder of mother nature 💜💜

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Wishing you plain sailing for the home stretch, Charli. Here’s the link to my contribution. I think it’s the first time ever I’ve produced a 99-word story in a single draft, without the need to add or subtract words.

    The Good Earth

    Heather would’ve welcomed more support from her colleagues for her latest occupational therapy project. Instead, they queried the purpose of creating a herb garden in a hospital about to close. All she could say was that gardening had been a lifeline to her when depression struck.

    Continues:
    https://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/passion-and-place-wreaking-a-beast-in-paradise

    Liked by 5 people

  34. Hi there, here’s my entry. Looks like a lot of people were inspired to write about earthing, a subject with many possibilities. https://robertkirkendall.com/2021/04/26/99-word-prompt-earthing/

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Hi there, here’s my entry. Looks like a lot of people were inspired to write about earth, a subject of many possibilities. https://robertkirkendall.com/2021/04/26/99-word-prompt-earthing/

    Liked by 2 people

  36. […] is another response to the Carrot Ranch Literary Community April 22, 2021, prompt to write about “earthing”. I had posted what I thought of as two separate flashes in […]

    Liked by 2 people

  37. ellenbest24 says:

    Charli I tried to leave mine but it said link expired? So I leave it here and hope it is published. 😪 https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com/2021/04/27/making-a-connection-with-this-beautiful-earth/

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      That’s a WP thing — might be a setting on a time limit to upload the form to prevent spam. If that happens, try again. I’ll grab it from here but I’m less reliable than the form, lol (memory).

      Liked by 1 person

  38. […] This was written with the prompt earthing provided by the Carrot Ranch April 22 Flash Fiction Challenge. […]

    Liked by 2 people

  39. […] wrote this in response to Charli Mill’s April 22, 2021 Flash Fiction Challenge. In 99 words (no more, no less) we were write a story about earthing. And as always, we were to go […]

    Liked by 2 people

  40. […] Carrot Ranch Prompt (04/22/2021):  In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or body and soul into the earth. Who needs recharging? What happens between the interaction? Go where the prompt leads! […]

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Liz H says:

    Just under the wire!

    Coming Home

    She’d sailed by the stars, rounding islands of moons to arrive home. Joanna leaned into the helm, her final tack bringing her ship into bayside.

    Virtually all Earth’s inhabitants left to settle… [Continue ]

    Liked by 4 people

  42. suespitulnik says:

    Hi Charli,
    I had never heard of earthing as a healing tool for the body My grandson’s observation was it would get one outside in the sun in order to do it so it must be good. He’s a great kid to go walking in the woods with.
    The last week of school work. Hallelujah!
    And I can see calves in the kitchen but what a mess…on to the prompt…

    Roots

    The hot day had Tessa itching to return to the park of her youth. She drove the streets admiring the colorful flowers in bloom, realizing the town had grown while she was away. She parked in the same space she used years ago, wondering if the forest trail that beckoned was still in use. Finding it even wider than she remembered, she took off her shoes in order to feel the warm packed earth underfoot. While walking, she imagined the day her granddaughter would be big enough to step over the same roots and share the experience with her.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Wise woods walking companion you have in your grandson, Sue. I suspect we benefit from all the elements. The truck we bought in Kansas to haul our RV belonged to a ranch veterinarian and I’m pretty sure he had newborn calves in that cab. It was awful to try to clean. I imagined the sacrifice of a new clean kitchen. Celebrating, soon!

      I love your story’s hope for sharing the roots with the next generation.

      Liked by 2 people

  43. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about earthing. Put a character’s hands, feet or bod… […]

    Liked by 2 people

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