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Posts Tagged ‘woods’

WINTER’S WHITE

Crisp, harsh, cutting air
Limbs and boughs dressed winter white
Worn boots and gloves await

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IMG00159-20110506-1514 (2)
My back yard

I sometimes dream of a time when I will have at least two hours free every day before 11 P.M. When I am dreaming big, I imagine a time when my schedule is flexible every day. What would that look like to me?

When a friend calls crying into my phone because of a disappointment or hurt in life, I would be able to drop what I am doing, call back, and comfort him/her. I would even have time to go to the store, buy flowers and arrange a special bouquet, bake something and bring it over. I would be there for my friend in time of need. Not tomorrow night when I am done work at 10 p.m. or Sunday only, when I have some time, but, NOW,  when I am needed and can be of help.

When I am invited to a friend’s home for dinner because a long-time friend has come back to visit from Ohio for just two days, I would be able to say yes, yes, I can’t wait. What can I bring? What game can I bring? I will be there…me and my memories. Instead, I will hide my disappointment and drive to work.

A good friend of mine has gone to Italy for a couple of weeks. She couldn’t convince me to share the trip with her. Financially, it isn’t a good time for me and I couldn’t take the time off work, but I was thrilled to be able to say yes when she asked me to take her cats for that time. More often than not when my time is required I have to say no because I just don’t have any extra. This I could do. It felt so right.

My house sits on a lovely piece of land. My back yard is surrounded by hundred-year-old pine trees with no lower branches. The fifty-foot trees reach up to the sun, stretching beyond other trees in the woods, like a giraffe’s neck longing for the warm kiss of the sun’s rays. Alders, bushes, and many things wild, including poison ivy, make their home there. I imagine being able to sit in my lawn chair near my almost-dry brook, as often as I want, listening to the slight gurgle it makes and maybe even walking along the bank and following it as it meanders on someone else’s property. I would take time in the quiet of the moment and imagine folks sitting there two-hundred years ago, thinking about the kind of life they had, working the land, letting the sun embrace their faces in the summer every day as they poured sweat, working. They slaved for what they needed and they suffered because of what they didn’t have. Their time was used in a different way than mine, but was just as precious.

Last week I had exactly eight hours of unexpected free time. I can’t even describe how excited that made me. I jumped in my car, drove to Merservey’s Farm about 35 minutes away, packed the car with lots of annuals and a few perennials, drove as fast as possible to the store to buy potting soil and spent the next six hours in bliss with my hands in the dirt. It felt so good.

There are so many things I want to do. Life is full of joy to be had. I love to work with flowers and plants, to decorate, to make quilts (maybe I could get better with time), to entertain my friends and family, put on large meals and parties, read, write, make jewelry..and that is only the beginning.

I must always prioritize and that can be so disappointing. Something always gets left out. I am writing here on my blog today. I haven’t had any time to write for almost two weeks because I didn’t have a spare minute (and I took those unexpected eight hours to play in the dirt). I miss reading the blogs I enjoy and commenting and most of all I miss writing. When I have two hours of time I have to make a choice…play in the dirt with my flowers, sit with a cup of coffee on my back deck breathing in the almost-summer smells, read, write a story or on my blog, or catch up on domestic household things. Whatever choice I make means I know it might be a whole week again before I get to make a choice about an extra hour available to me.

I must continue to teach myself to be content with what time I have and stop focusing on how different it would be if I had more time. I have much of what is good in life to enjoy. I have my family, my children, many good friends, my health and a job, a good job that keeps my head above water. Any of these things can change in the twinkling of an eye.

So, as I take out the trash later today I will have a smile on my face thinking about the next time I get to do something I want, something I enjoy.

What about all of you, my blog friends? Does time dictate your life as closely as it does mine?

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Thank you, Stephanie, of BeKindRewrite, Inspiration Monday XII,  for the excellent prompts. They are all so good.

Paper Towns

Julien rolled down his window and slowed as he passed the paper mill. His throat caught. His gut pulled itself taut, feeling like it was going to wretch. His paper mill, his father’s and grandfather’s, too. Everyone in town felt the same way, it was theirs, belonged to each of them. Their sweat lay behind those concrete walls. Here they had lived more of their lives than in their own homes with their families. This paper town’s heart had always beat to the rhythms and smells of the smoke stack. The stronger the whiff of sulfur and stink, the safer they all felt.

He inhaled deeply…fresh air, a smell foreign to him and to this area, a smell of no paper production. The air didn’t taste right, either. It tasted of lost jobs, of houses abandoned, of corner stores turned into job placement agencies. This Small Town, U.S.A. wasn’t his paper town anymore, not his small town America.

Why had he even come? He had driven through last year and had sworn he would never be back, hadn’t been able to sleep a full night for months after. He thought he would be over it by now, over the memories and losses he had seen and felt, families displaced, moving away from each other, starting again with nothing.

Over it? Never! Mill work pulsed through his blood. The feel of steel etched his mind and the smell of paper, his nose. Rolls of paper twenty-six feet long, five feet wide, weighing tons. Machines were everywhere: paper machines, cutter machines, doctor machines. The mill workers, carpenters, mill wrights, laborers, paper makers, electricians, machinists, they were all him. This had all been him.

The empty parking lot once filled with Chevys, Fords, and Buicks now played host to grass and weeds growing between asphalt cracks. Kids had snuck in and were throwing rocks to see who could hit the window farthest away. The fence they had climbed to get in, broken and rusted. The guard shack was empty, no one there to tell them to skedaddle, play somewhere else.

Fifty-six years ago it had been. He still remembered sitting big and tall in that pick-up, four years old and proud as punch, watching Dad behind the wheel, red cigarette pack stashed under the  short sleeve of his white T-shirt and a Marlborough hanging out of  his mouth.

They pulled in, and for the first time he saw what was behind that sacred steel gate. He had jumped out, looked around and knew instantly he had entered a new world, a world he wanted to be a part of, his world,  his home away from  home.

A rock hit his truck, startling Julien back to today. He turned just in time to see the boys look at him, wide-eyed and wondering, weighing whether they should stay or make a run for it. He pulled over and motioned for them to come over. They did, reluctantly. He asked their names. Familiar names, home town names, paper mill names. He knew their fathers and grandfathers well.  He sent them on their way warning them to be careful with their aim.

After looking at the building for a while, the mill he had known like the back of his hand and had felt the beat of for so many years, he pulled away…slowly.

Julien enjoyed the breeze as he drove down the country road and made a sharp left turn. He stopped, looked at all the stones, some large, some small, different names on each. The grass had been freshly mowed. There was nothing like the smell of cut grass. It reminded him of Dad at home, whistling while he mowed, moving in and out in an exact pattern.

The large family stone with his name on it knew he would one day be here resting with these others who were a part of him. Its light granite color soothed him. He felt comfortable here. He found his father’s marker and touched it.  It felt smooth with a bit of roughness at the edges. Just like Dad, he thought.

He leaned in a bit closer and whispered, “Dad, you left just in time.”

Julien rubbed the marker one more time, touched his fingers to his lips, and smiled that his father could rest in peace, thinking that his paper town was still humming.

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Thank you to BeKindRewrite for the wonderful prompts on Inspiration Monday!

TEARDROP TATTOOS

The small plane tilted to the right, then to the left giving his wise weathered eyes access to the great expanse below.  Excitement and anticipation flowed through his veins. He had heard stories, yes, tales of now compared to then.  There were those who had seen the changes, those whose footsteps had known as his had the abundant beauty and vastness of this uninterrupted wilderness.  They had told him, described in detail, but even his best imagination couldn’t grasp it. His mind calculated time. Twenty one long years it had been since taking his last step here, in what he had considered his home, his own remote territory.  It was hard to believe that forty six short years of his life was spent working here from season to season, since the age of fourteen,  as a cookie – a  cook’s helper,  working the drives, then as a lumberjack knowing well the sound of T-I-M-B-E-R.  The pilot looked over his shoulder at him knowing those tired eyes would soon show anguish, sadness and regret; anguish because of the somber view below, sadness because he remembered what once was, and regret that he had given in to himself and come one last time in this, his eighty first year of life.

 Acres and acres of land, forest land, once green and growing, now resembled a drab faded brown, desolate and dying.   Miles of never ending destruction begged for mercy and pleaded to prove that what was once green, abundant and flourishing could thrive and mature again.  Tree trunks split and worn down looked vulnerable, thousands of them, chopped, hacked and fractured faced the sky and screamed for attention. Discarded branches, human limbs of this remote region, some large, some smaller, all maimed, severed and mangled lay lifeless in makeshift piles haphazardly strewn about.  Brooks and streams once bubbling with pink-fleshed trout, now looked tired and lifeless.  The wildlife, oh, the wildlife, the deer, moose, bear, fox, fisher, beaver and all the others, where were they?  Once they were thriving and plentiful, companions to the lumberjack, respected at a distance but very much a part of each other’s lives.  Where?  Where?

The plane slowly descended giving him full view of what he no longer wanted to see. They landed near a large maple tree, one of only a few left, standing and so alone. The pilot sat quietly saying nothing, awash in emotion at the look on his grandfather’s face.  With a negative headshake the old man sat in his seat looking out the window at the large maple, his favorite of all the trees. Knots, tattooed knots were weeping sap past other tattooed knots down the beautiful trunk of this, his tree.  He watched his own reflection in the window as his eyes watched the maple sap. Teardrops formed at each corner of his brown dull eyes but they could not fall. Instead, they sat there, like tattoos, remembering another time, a time gone by.

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