A Memorial to Sharon Webb Brown forum: One Line Stories
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|This is one of my favorite memories of Blue Gardens. We had so much fun doing this and the stories she wrote from the words were awesome!
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art CUBITS Heart Strength ~ Trust in the Lord
|Story Time: Winter of 2014
It had been bitterly cold overnight, everything was covered in a thick layer of spiky hoarfrost; now the bright morning sun made everything shimmer and shine like billions of sparkling diamonds. It wasn't long before long frosty whiskers covered twigs, tall yellowed grass, fence wires and even the horse hair hanging from them!
What magic resulted from several sub freezing days and nights combined with thick fog that made us all feel like we were living in a frosted bubble! Everyone had been dreading the snow coming our way except some who couldn't wait for enough to fall on the ground so they could have a snowball fight. It was all so beautiful, this winter of 2014. Looking back, the entire winter mostly consisted of three activities: shovel, slip, slide, shovel, slip, slide, repeated over and over and over. We didn't realize that until it was over.
It was early morning and any plans I'd made for the day were forgotten when I looked outside. Snowbound. I was surely snowbound. Again. Lumps appeared where I knew cars should be. Shrubs were continuous mounds of white. It was so quiet one could hear the whisper of a snowflake as it fell, quietly joining the millions that had fallen before it.
"The interstate will be closed," I thought to myself, "no school, nothing will be open. Doesn't matter," I thought, "I have no where to go anyway." Thinking of what I might accomplish inside, I added wood to the fireplace, hoping I had enough to last through this latest storm. Again I looked out the window.
The snow was so deep and the ice that had formed on top was slick. My dog didn't care a bit; she bounced through the snow, hind end up then down, up then down, almost disappearing in the snow's great depth and with each bounce the snow scattered and the ice crunched in every direction.
I found myself looking toward the distant road, maybe a mile, maybe less, but the entire distance was a blanket of unending white. As I looked, I could see a small black dot, so far away it was nearly a pinpoint, but vivid against all the white snow. I watched, and the black dot appeared to grow, and finally I could tell it was a group of people walking toward me.
Soon they were a multitude of color, bright scarves on their heads, bright gloves waving above them, tall boots trudging as they made their way to my front path. They looked to be a merry group, though shivery with cold!
My dog spotted them, bounded to greet them, her golden coat glowing in the blanket of white, much like a golden beacon to guide the travelers to my front door.
I opened my door wide, unsure of what I was seeing. Was this a hallucination; it had been days since I'd seen anyone approaching my house, days of snow storms and weather unlike any other in all my years. I was cautious, but so hungry for company I threw caution to the wind, so happy to see all that color, all those smiling faces. If Sunshine's happy bounces were any indication, these folks surely were our friends. She was as happy to see them as I was.
They were talking as they entered, so many voices and all at once, it was difficult to comprehend, but Sunshine was bouncing and happy with the pats and hugs so I knew there was not an enemy among them.
"Come in, come right on in," I spoke loudly to be heard over the din of voices. "Come sit by the fire and get warm, and I'll fix you something to drink, here, let me take your coats and scarves, I'll hang them by the fire to get dry! You folks have surely traveled a great distance to get here."
A sweet voice from the back of the crowd chimed in: "What a joy it is to prepare a kettle of home made chicken and noodle soup or a batch of chili to warm the "inners" of our dear ones, cold and hungry from their travels. We enjoy old fashioned vegetable soup, home made potato soup with ham chunks and bread right from the oven in the cold months of winter! We've come from far and wide and I know we'd love whatever you serve as long as it's hot!"
OH! I knew that voice, straight out of my website, Oma, and here she was in person right in front of my fire! I opened my mouth to greet her and to welcome her to my home, all the time wondering how she got here. "Oma!" I shouted, but before the question could leave my lips I heard another voice.
"A parade of vehicles came toward our disabled car, trying to stop but moving much too fast for the road conditions. At the last possible second, the first one slid sideways, blocking the others, which somehow ricocheted off it and each other, forming a tangled mess that just barely missed us as we sat helplessly watching in fear."
"Mary!" I yelled, just short of jumping up and down in excitement; it was my dearest friend Mary, also from my website, who lives in a far northwestern state! She was such a long way from home, I couldn't imagine why she was here in my house during this harsh winter storm. I would know Mary anywhere, even though we'd never met in person. I knew her by her words; it was her words that now frightened me.
"Mary," I said as I wrapped her in a huge bear hug! "How did you get here, and where are you going and are you hurt in any way by that crash?"
Mary's answer was cut short by my happy dog! Sunshine stood on her back legs reaching up to Mary to give her a hug, so big if Mary had been injured, she would have fallen from the strength of Sunshine bearing down on her. I had to smile because Sunshine had just left Oma's side; she always loves the same people that I love. But Mary's answer was silenced as more people began to arrive, with Sunshine greeting each one with her furry hugs. She danced from one arrival to another, the faces of strangers, voices of my friends, but Sunshine seemed to know them every one.
Oh wow! A voice I'd only heard by phone! I heard it now. My dear Vic, I'd know her anywhere, all the way from North Carolina, grinning from ear to ear when she saw Sunshine and knelt down for her hug. "Winter has its advantages as well, you know," she said through her Sunshine hug. " Warm fires, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, naps on the sofa, reading books, cocoa with cinnamon, and brisk walks with the dogs. Take a look," she said as she handed me a huge duffle bag, "I've brought everything we all need for this snowbound adventure, I even brought Gussie Mae to keep Sunshine company!"
Gussie Mae tumbled out of her upturned duffle, happy as could be to play with Sunshine.
And there right in front of me was my first grade best friend, how could it be, I thought, before I realized it was her lookalike, Arlene, my new friend from our website. "Arlene, oh Arlene," I called, but my voice was lost in all the excitement. I caught her eye and waved.
It occurred to me that this was highly unusual, all these friends were in my house, and how could that be? I only knew them from the site, but here they were, all right here, just out of the snowstorm and huddled around my fire. I was so happy I didn't ask another question, I just added wood to the fire and turned the heat up on the stove. Soup and warm bread it would be, with cinnamon flavored cocoa on its way.
I heard snippets of conversations:
"Our plane had to land, so glad it was near Kentucky . . . "
"We traveled as far as we could get, the interstate closed just as we crossed into Kentucky . . . "
"Luckily we were able to make the last exit, and we found ourselves right here in Kentucky . . ."
By this time, I didn't care how they got here, I was just so thankful for the heavy snowstorm that brought them to me. I set about rounding up bowls and mugs, spoons for the soup and made sure Gussie and Sunshine had their share with a blanket for a bed by the fire. It was just simply the happiest of times.
"Let it snow!!" I thought to myself, "Just let it keep right on snowing!"
We talked the day away; more soup kept appearing whenever we needed it, bread was baked, the hot chocolate was abundant, and warm quilts were tucked around all shoulders. It was so beautiful, old friends meeting for the first time.
The conversation continued through the room, we could all hear each other and we all joined in the listening as each had a tale to tell, a comment to make. They had all traveled a long way to get away from the cold and to come to a warmer zone. But their travels had stopped when they realized that all roads that led south had been closed as soon as they reached Kentucky. There was no way to run from the cold. Lucky for me, I thought. So lucky for me. Without them, it would have been a long, lonely and very cold time, snowbound as I was. But with them, it was wonderful.
I just sat still and listened.
Mary was talking, "I watched helplessly as the elderly man lost control of his feet and his shovel at the same time, and began moving toward the edge of the roof, doing some kind of dance he had never learned. He missed his last chance to stop as he passed the ladder, groped at a tree branch and fell into the snowbank beside the house with a thud I could feel but not hear."
Vic was sitting beside the dogs on their blanket, gently rubbing their tummies. She was talking about the mountains near her home.
"The snow was so deep the dogs sunk to their tummies. When we walked up the mountain, we saw deer, rabbit, and raccoon tracks. And as the snow would melt and re-freeze overnight, it became very icy. Watching me crab walk with hat, scarf over hat, scarf around neck, gloves, red coat, pink knee socks with pom poms hanging off them under my hiking boots was a sight to behold."
I had to laugh at the image Vic painted with her words. So did everybody else.
Mary was talking, we all listened: "Ice that had formed on the pond weeks ago when the water level was low is now floating like a plate in a dishpan. The birds need to put on their little ice skates and scarves, and hold their own little Bird Olympics."
Another chuckle from all of us!
Then we heard from Oma again and she shared a picture of her son and granddaughter as she said, "This winter is like the winters I recall as a child. There is actually enough snow to build a snow house and our son and granddaughter proved it."
"OH what a great snow house," we all said!
"Between squalls when the weather couldn't make up its mind and gave us sun, wind, and snowflakes all at once; we shoveled the walk, plowed the parking area and blew the driveway snow into the pasture. Boots, jackets, hats and gloves make back door decor more functional than beautiful," said Mary.
And Lucy, more used to snow piles than I was told us this: "My children were afraid of the bushes pictured in 'Snow White' What would they say to the fierce blueberry bushes along the wall which managed to push the mailbox off its base?"
I was so happy to see that Lucy was here, like most of the others, she was a long way from home.
Suddenly a male voice chimed into the conversation. I knew Larry was here, I'd seen him when Sunshine danced him in a circle on the front porch. He was talking about Oliver and I realized Oliver wasn't with him, "Oliver loves his apples in the old orchard, even when they're buried under more than a foot of snow. He's persistent, and it takes forever, so I often help him dig."
"Where is Oliver, Larry, didn't you bring him with you?"
"No," said Larry, "Oliver stayed behind to take care of Wilma and Laila. Besides, he couldn't leave his apple trees! Frozen apples are his favorite treats!"
Suddenly there was Jill, I looked around hoping to see her grandchildren, I'd heard so much about them. But Jill was alone, sipping her hot chocolate beside the fire. I was so excited to see her. In the great scheme of things, Jill lives closer to me than most of the others, and here she was. I love hearing her descriptions, no matter if they are written or spoken. She was talking now and I listened:
"The birds in winter think they have found their own personal banquet hall when the snows cover their natural feeding grounds. They don't know they are playing the lead roles in my winter wonderland theater. But why is it that the numbers of layers I must wear in cold weather to stay warm are so bulky that I can't move well, yet they are still too thin to protect me when I slip and fall? And how does a person layer gloves and boots?"
And over in the corner, standing tall above everybody else, was our good friend, Toni, straight from the mountains of Colorado, telling us how it was in her world:
"The birds were enjoying the bounty of the feeders, as were the squirrels. The dogs and cats, stuck inside the house even on nice days, however, were going bonkers watching the feeders, feeling that life was completely unfair that they weren't allowed to chase the intruders on the outside!"
And Margaret all the way from Canada, sitting right beside my fireplace, telling us about the snow in her own yard:
"With the cold and so much snow covering everything this winter, the deer must have been very hungry last night to have jumped the fence into the back yard and clean out all of the seed from the bird feeders that he could get at leaving nothing for the poor birds when they arrived in the morning."
How beautiful, I thought to myself. All my internet friends gathered around my fireplace, all of us enjoying each others company, all of us tired of snow and ice and cold, but not letting any of it interfere with our warm friendship. What better place for them to be stranded than right here with me. Even Sunshine and Gussie perked up when some of the others began talking once more about their pets.
Jill, mug of cocoa in hand, was leaning against the mantle as she said: "The fluffy red and white fox scampered quickly on top of the icy snow easily putting distance between himself and my farm dogs who floundered along breaking through the same icy snowy crust into the deep snow below. The dogs retreated to the snow free porch to sulk and the fox trotted triumphantly across the pond dam and disappeared into the woods beyond."
Gussie and Sunshine's ears twitched when they heard that! I'm sure they thought the red and white fox would not have escaped their fleet feet.
And Oma joined in, Sunshine and Gussie still following every word: "It was fun to watch our pup, Ricky, catch snowballs. He caught lots of them in his mouth and then he tried to make a ball in the snow with his front feet and nose, to our surprise. Winter to me is an opportunity to work on the projects that were put on the shelf during warmer weather, when it was lots more fun to be outside.
Winter also helps me appreciate the blessings of a warm summer day, drinking our favorite glass of southern style tea."
I glanced to my left where Mary was stirring her hot chocolate with a stick of cinnamon and listened to her words:
"Tired children, both ours and a half dozen of the neighbors, wet and red faced from sledding on the hill in the pasture, came trudging into the house, shedding boots, mittens, hats, scarves and jackets, leaving puddles in their wake on the way from the mud room to the kitchen. Mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows afloat awaited the eager youngsters, a tasty accompaniment to my peanut butter cookies, still warm from the oven."
By this time I realized my friends were tired from their early trek through the snow to my house. The hot soup and cocoa, the warm fire and the fun of being together showed in their drooping eyes and in the yawns that sneaked out when they least expected.
I gathered all the quilts I had, found pillows and more pillows; soon all around the warm great room, whispers and sighs told me my guests were warm and comfortable in my house. The dogs slept near the door, no doubt guarding all their people.
I heard Oma, talking softly about her day to Margaret who was in the recliner nearby, "Our dear son-in-love shoveled our large driveway for five hours in the two days he was here with us, when he came indoors, there were ice crystals on his beard and his face was red but he never once complained."
Margaret sighed softly.
And from the easy chair with the footrest in the far back corner, I heard Larry's voice, soothing in the warm sleepy room: "Due to record cold this winter, there was definitely no danger of falling through the ice on the lake. As I glided along in the company of other skaters, I said to no one in particular, 'Pretty good for a 73-year-old, don'tcha think?'"
I giggled, Sunshine glanced over at me and smiled, just as she does whenever I giggle. Maybe she was smiling at Larry's words, too.
And with that, I closed my eyes, snuggled in a corner of the sofa, so happy to be surrounded by my friends, so thankful they'd visited my house, and so glad I had finally met them and could take them in out of the storm. Beautiful people, all of them. Very soon I was sleeping.
I felt Sunshine's paw on my shoulder, a ray of warm sun across my face. I listened for a minute and heard nothing, but again I felt Sunshine's paw on my shoulder. I didn't want her to bark and wake my guests, I sat up quickly, looked around at my bedroom. Strange, I thought, I didn't go to sleep in my bedroom. I went to sleep in the great room with my guests. How did I get to my bedroom? I grabbed my warm robe and motioned Sunshine to follow me to the door. My bedroom is on the far end of the house and I had to walk down the hall and through the great room to get to the door to take Sunshine out. I wondered if Gussie Mae needed to go out too. We were very quiet, Sunshine and I, as we tiptoed down the hall. I slowed as we came to the great room, I'd left coffee timed to be made by now but I didn't smell it wafting through the room. Maybe it was earlier than I thought. I glanced around, images from last night dancing in my mind.
The room was empty. There was no fire in the fireplace, no mugs and bowls to be washed. There were no quilts, no pillows, no Gussie Mae, not a sign of all my friends who had been stranded at my house.
The easy chair where Larry sat was empty, no dent from his feet on the footstool. Jill's mug was not on the mantle, Vic's duffle was nowhere in sight. My heart fell, where were my friends? I kneeled down to leash Sunshine, my arm around her as I attached her leash to her collar just as I always did. Where were my friends, I whispered to her? As if in answer, Sunshine licked the tear that I didn't know was on my cheek. I looked at her she was smiling that Sunshine smile and she licked the other tear away.
It had all been a dream, all of it, nothing but a dream. I took Sunshine outside, sat on the back deck and carefully examined my feelings about all of it. Of course I was saddened, knowing it was only a dream. But what a beautiful dream it was. So we decided, Sunshine and I, we'll store this beautiful memory away in our hearts and the next time we are snowed in while the winds blow and the snows fall, then we'll take out our memory and we'll sit by the fire and think of the great time we had in the winter of 2014.
Here's your story:
Twas the Week Before Christmas
Twas the week before Christmas and all through my kitchen,
muddy paw prints were showing, the floor was not glistening.
The snow it had melted, the ice turned to mud;
not a flower was blooming, not even a bud.
And the tree skirt, oh the tree skirt, all red and new,
was wrapped around Sunshine like a girl's tiny tutu.
The gifts were all wrapped with ribbons and bows,
the lights finally untangled, glimmered and glowed.
So I gathered my friends, both new friends and old,
when asked about their weeks, here's what I was told:
Twas the week before Christmas and all through Larry's house,
drifted wonderful aromas, thanks to his talented spouse.
Vic's house was filled with scents of cookies and pine,
she was drinking her eggnog, no time for any wine.
Lucy's wrapping paper was unrolling right on their rolls,
she was tangled forever in paper and bows.
Oma's paint, brush, roller, with her husband behind them,
waiting for her, without doubt, to paint all the trim.
Oma's needle was moving as fast as could be,
finishing the crocheted gifts for dear ones, you see.
But Margaret, dear Margaret, in her lovely home no stockings were hung,
there was no Christmas tree and not a light had been strung.
Listening to Vic and her tearful wails,
her pets running round the Christmas tree, icicles hanging from their tails.
In hidden places at Mary's, mice were sniffing the air,
knowing that crumbs of good tasting goodies would soon be theirs.
Margaret's hubby was sleeping, the fire all aglow,
he was dreaming of Christmases of long, long ago.
Stories of past Christmases echoed through Jill's house,
and guess who was listening, her and her spouse.
"Mary," said Rick, "here's the tree," dragging the snow covered pine through the door,
"now all we need are the decorations we found at the store".
"Hurry with those plates of cookies," said Mary, "there's no time to play!
We need to be delivering them all right away."
"Oh no," Mary heard again and once more,
"Mom, the kitty's climbing the Christmas tree and it's on the floor!"
Mary yelled, "Hurry now, or we'll be late getting to church.
Grab your coats, get your hats, the Christmas Eve service is a must!"
Jill searched for the "I'll put it where I'll be sure to find it" hiding places,
last year's after-season on sale decorations are lost in those spaces!
The aroma of Tourtière and sugar pies filled Margaret's house,
served at the evening festivities they'll cheer up any grouch.
Oh dear Vic, from one end to the other of her beautiful house
were strewn wrapping paper and ribbon, oh, do I see a mouse?
At Jill's the kids are competing to make sure nothing was missed,
seeing who can make Santa's 'Good Boys and Girls' list.
Looking out the window at the world all aglow,
Lucy says Chistmas would be gloomy without any snow.
Jill's mid-winter cleaning is well in full swing,
preparing for smiling eyed children and their pets this holiday will bring.
Jill's taking a break and between visions of Santa, snowmen and snow,
come glimpses of angels and reverent reminders of the Nativity creche from so long ago.
And as Christmas draws nearer and minds get all jumbled,
let's pause in our frenzy and be ever so humbled.
It isn't the cookies, the trees or the lights,
it isn't the ribbons, the music, not the bright shiny sights.
It isn't the baking, the wrapping, the gifts or the food,
it isn't the music though that too is good.
It's what we see when our pets smile up at our faces,
all the love in their eyes, no tears, not even traces.
It's the hug from a friend when we least deserve it,
the handshake from a stranger when we didn't expect it.
It's the feeling, not the doing, not buying nor baking,
it's the gift we are giving, not one we're grabbing and taking.
It's the feeling we get when we look around and above,
it's when our hearts are bound tight in friendship and love.
Friendships are precious, glowing bright as Christmas lights.
Merry Christmas to My Friends and to all a Good Night.
****Thanks to Margaret and Toni for providing most of the photos!! It wouldn't be nearly as pretty without them. And thanks to all of you who provided the story lines. Fun!
|Another slightly related story, since there are no blooms at the moment to speak of:
The house where I grew up had two upper stories with different roof lines/levels. I could climb from one window, then walk to a different level and climb up or down. Of course I wasn't allowed on the roof but that's beside the point.
My polio legs didn't bother me much once I was over the initial illness, but there was one thing that felt so good to me, though others I noticed didn't enjoy it as much as I did. That was heat. Anywhere I could find it, I grabbed it. Just plain heat. Still do.
So the roof of my house was tin. It grabbed the sun and held on to it and was gloriously hot when I lay on it, so hot in fact that I needed a quilt between it and me. I had lots of quilts to choose from, so I'd climb out my window and lay on the roof. Of course the roof was pitched, several different degrees of pitch, but that was fine, I'd always find the most comfortable pitch.
They were used to me wandering the mountains for hours at a time, so my absence was never noticeable as long as my chores were done. When they were in the back yard, I could always lay on the roof part that was visible from the front yard. They'd never see me. Same thing if they changed sides of the yard. Or garden.
So one day they were in the yard, (Mom and my grandmother = they) and I needed the sun that I knew was on the roof. I grabbed my blanket and climbed out the window. But they kept changing sides and I kept having to move. My last move was to the roof over the sun room. It had a very steep pitch and I'd never used it before. I placed my quilt just so and noticed it kept sliding, but I knew I was heavy enough to hold it in place once I lay down on it. So I did.
On the ground around the sunroom there was planted Japanese quince, Japonica. Japonica has thorns, lots of thorns, long skinny sharp thorns. But the blooms and the bees that loved them were there. So pretty.
I dozed while the sunny roof warmed my legs. I had a daydream that I was floating in air, maybe on the clouds, slowly, slowly floating away.
I felt the rim, the edge of the roof as it passed beneath the quilt under my legs. Then I floated a little more quickly and as I picked up speed I came to reality just in time to grab the edges of the quilt and wrap them around most of me.
I landed on the japonica. I squished a few blooms and several bees that were unlucky enough to be in the vicinity of my quilt clad bottom as it landed on them. I might have broken a branch or two. I felt a few thorns.
I heard the voices:
"What was that noise?"
"I don't know, sounded as if it came from the sunroom."
"We better check to see . . ."
I jumped out of the japonica about as fast as I fell into it. Grabbed the quilt in my arms, just as they turned the front corner.
"Hiya Mom, Ninna! I was looking for a place to get some sun, you got any ideas? I grabbed the oldest quilt, just to lay over the grass. I reckon that's OK, don'tcha think? I'll be really careful to not get it dirty. Promise. You see any sun anywhere?"
Most of the time I lived on the edge.
And by the seat of my pants.
They never ever knew what had happened but I never lay on the sunroof anymore. Beside the chimney was a pretty good spot though.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art CUBITS Heart Strength ~ Trust in the Lord
|FROM FALL 2013
And to continue with our page 52, fifth sentence game, here's our story. If you don't recognize your phrases, then I'll go through and italicize them tomorrow. Have fun!!
Quotes through the day 9/19/13:
Stanislas Toad was seated in cushy comfort, legs stretched out in front of him as he contemplated the friends to his right and to his left. Stan was presently serving again as Vice President, seemed that he and Frank usually took turns. Nobody else wanted the responsibility. And so it was Franklin L. Frogue who commanded his attention at the moment.
"When they got re-established in the U.S., they began to meet for a reunion each summer," Frogue was saying, "look at the taskbar and you will see the buttons of two programs. One connects us to the crew, the other to our home base. You can radio the crew of the Athena that you're coming, although I'm almost certain the message won't go through. If we hadn't been on the trip to the reunion, we wouldn't be in this predicament."
With those words, a new vitality came upon the group, energizing them, making them a little defensive. It was what they needed, Toad thought, but it had been a long time coming. They had been stuck in this same spot for the entire months of summer, and winter was certainly not far away. If they didn't leave soon, it would be the end of them. Cushy comfort notwithstanding, they would not survive the cold of winter. Their kind never did, they required heat to survive, freezing conditions would be fatal. The scene before them was idyllic for now, but it too was dying, drying, and their shelter was sinking inch by inch into the muck and mire that they could not escape. The light was fading even now, and though the white foamy substance that was wrapped in a clear plastic cover continued to hold them in comfort, it was becoming somewhat soggy with time. They had found food through the torn opening of the window, curved as it was following the contour of the ceiling, but time and the sun had also very nearly sealed it, and though they had tried, they had been unable to create a larger opening. It was the metal surface of the ceiling that also prevented the sending or receiving of a signal. It was futile, Toad thought, but Frogue continued to bring hope and vitality to the group.
For Frogue, the truth was all around him, if he would admit it, but it felt as if he had stepped back in time, to an era where family and a sense of community were priorities. Where neighbor helped neighbor and people felt responsible for one another. He felt responsible for this group.
Occasionally they heard voices above, behind and around them. Only Stan could interpret the voices, only he had been educated in human existence, only he had been taught the meaning of words. It was the hearing and understanding of the words that made Stan know, their hopes and their efforts were futile. Just this morning he heard words that only he understood, and with them, his hopes faded: "Or maybe the little ones are lucky enough to get as far as the kitchen table with the rest of the mail --hopefully not on top of a radiator or near the woodstove; even the heated house itself is anything but inviting to a seed--and then into a drawer, perhaps."
"We seldom had more than four inches of snow cover at any one time."
"Never use the outside door when it's cold."
It was those combinations of words that told Stan their fate was sealed. The voices were talking of cold and snow. And though he knew if he and his group could get into the building that must be there, they could survive, even only near it, or in its shelter. But they could not get out of the container that they found themselves sealed inside. It had been a game. They were young and small and they were hiding from those on the air/watership; they'd found the cylindrical shaped object with the soft cushion inside, hid there for awhile and fell asleep. When they woke, the mothership was gone and they were too scared to venture outside their shelter. They grabbed food through the torn opening, they watched and were swift to grab it as it flew by. And they grew. And grew. Until now there was hardly enough room for the 5 of them. And no way out.
Sam, the fattest of all of them, was talking again: "I do my best, you know I do, it's just that I'm always hungry!"
"I like that kind of honesty and straightforwardness," said Franklin, it isn't your fault. We had no idea we'd grow up so quickly. We were young, playing a game, it's nobody's fault."
Stan thought they sounded like children, and though he had been designated Vice President, he said nothing. He knew it was too late. He just hoped death would come quickly.
He heard more words coming from outside their curved den.
"The blooms will soon become mummified," the older voice said.
"Oh look, Mom, there's the pail, the one we lost months ago. Remember when you told me - Toast some of the bread in the pail, Polly, you said. Remember that, Mom? And I told you then that Joel lost the pail, even with the loaf of bread inside it. Remember Mom?"
"Joel, oh Joel," called Mrs Pepper. "Come see if you can fish this old pail out of the water. It's no good anymore, it's trash, but we need to get it out of this drying pond before it freezes. Just use a limb to pull it out then toss it into the burn pit out back. It's no longer good for anything, just trash.
Joel found a limb, hooked a branch to the handle of the pail.
"Sure feels heavy, Ma! Feels like it has something in it!"
"Just fish it out Joel, and when you toss it into the burn pit, there are some other old cans out back. Just toss them in the pit, too."
"Pewww, Ma, it sure stinks," said Polly.
"That's why I said to toss the other heavy cans on top of it. Pa will get to burning it tonight when Ben gets home to help him.
The pail, clear lid intact, sailed through the air and landed with a loud thump in the burn pit. The pit's bottom layer of sharp rocks cut through the rusty pail in many places; it buckled and nearly flattened, hissing with the power of the catapult.
Franklin Toad was cushioned by the inflated bodies of his companions. Bruised and no doubt injured, he carefully pulled his way to the now larger opening and worked his way free by stepping first on the limb of one and then on the plump belly of another, neither of whom was moving. His head stuck through the opening of the pail's lid.
"Ma, hey Ma! Wait, Polly, don't throw anything on top of that pail. There's a frog coming out! Look at him, Polly, look at him! Fattest frog I ever saw!" yelled Joel. "I'm going to catch him, make a pet of him, look at him hop, Polly, look at him go!"
|The Great BG Cookout
We'd chosen a gorgeous day for the cookout. The sun was shining and the breeze was gentle, with just a hint of fall in the air. Some had traveled a long distance, arriving the day before so they'd have time to rest before the big event. With a view of the lake in front of us and the gentle whisper of the rustling trees behind us, everybody was relaxed and ready for whatever happened next. And excited! We were so excited to be together for the very first time. Online friends for years, this was our first face to face meeting.
The plans for the Great BG Cookout had begun in the spring among friends from all points of the compass; recipes were shared along with the daily blooms from our gardens. The words and photos flew fast and furious across the waves of the internet all summer long. Finally now, the last weekend in September, the big day had arrived.
The men were in charge of setting up the kitchen, an open area with all the cooking equipment they'd need. They were chatting, rattling things around, checking things out, all dressed in their white aprons and poofy chef hats. There were grills, stoves, pots and pans and even a huge brick oven. On one end there was a sheltered area and in the back of it were fridge, freezer and an icemaker, a table and a stainless steel cart on wheels. On the table and cart was an assortment of spices, utensils, plastic plates, cups, everything needed for the feast. The ladies were gathered around the table, checking for what they might need. The moment had arrived!
The friends had brought their spouses with them, so nobody was outnumbered, and all the ingredients for this fabulous meal were just waiting to be chopped, pounded, sliced, grated, sprinkled and poured into the proper pots or pans. All the cooking spots were heating up, the oiled or watered pans were in place, and the ladies were getting the food ready to hand to the chefs.
Me, I was just sitting back, watching it all play out in front of me, taking notes, not saying a word, just listening. After all, I'd done my job, I brought all these friends together.
"Did you know," asked Vic, "the key to making this vinaigrette as flavorful as the cooked version is to use really, really ripe tomatoes; in fact, I would even suggest overripe tomatoes."
I leaned back and flipped on the radio. A special golden oldie was playing loud and clear.
"Well these tomatoes have traveled cross country with me, so I'd say they are overripe, here, use them," said Mary, and tossed a tomato to Vic, just as a familiar voice blasted from the radio:
♫ ♪ "Welllllll, it's one for the money, two for the show,
Three to get ready, now Go, Cat, Go!!" ♪ ♫
And that's all it took, the game was on and there was no looking back. Vic wiped the tomato off her shoulder and the juicy seeds from her face.
"One tomato down, let's get the next one in the pot," yelled Larry, holding the spoon high over his chef's hat, waving it like a baton.
Here came the ladies, ingredients in hand, tossing them into the pots while the men stirred.
"One pound of bacon, Chopped!!" chimed Toni, "and half a teaspoon ground cinnamon! And oh, add two eggs beaten and two cups Semolina flour!" She tossed the ingredients into the pot her hubby was stirring.
The women were dancing past the pots, yelling each ingredient and tossing them in as they danced by.
Me, I was just watching and listening.
♫ ♪ "You can do anything but lay offa my blue suede shoes . . ." Elvis kept right on singing, the women kept dancing and the men kept stirring.
"Three and a half cups apple cider vinegar!" called Mary.
"Add one eighth teaspoon salt!" said Toni and Vic added: "Three cups of whipping cream!"
And Me, well, I suggested they stir in salmon, mayonnaise, olives and celery but nobody was listening to me.
"Four ounces of stewed prunes!" yelled Charlie, waving his white hat in the air.
Stir in vanilla and orange extract!" I heard Toni's voice above the others. Carol was right behind her, feet tapping as she handed the next ingredient to Charlie.
Elvis kept on singing, the men kept on stirring, and the ladies kept on dancing while they shouted directions.
"Don't forget to pre heat the oven to 350*," yelled Toni again. Wilma checked to make sure the oven was on. She grabbed Larry's hat as she passed by him.
"While that's cooking, somebody needs to jump to the rice," called Vic.
"Shake with ice and strain," yelled Charlie bouncing to the beat of Elvis in the background.
"Hey, did you know, put well drained hot turnip greens on toast and spread with mustard to make a sandwich," I said, loud as I could. Nobody listened, they were all caught up in their cooking and dancing and stirring. I will admit, the smells coming from those pots were interesting! I turned Elvis up a little louder.
♪ ♫ "Well,you can knock me down, step on my face,
Slander my name all over the place . . ."♫ ♪
"Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and foamy," Larry danced his way to Wilma, stole his hat back.
"If necessary fat may be used on hands to prevent sticking!" Mary chimed as she passed by Rick, I glanced again, Rick was wearing his kilt beneath the apron.
"Toss in a half cup fat free evaporated milk!" sang Vic! Hank just shook his head and kept stirring with his handcarved wooden spoon.
"Serve warm or cold, with or without cream!" Mary danced while she sang.
"It's a fantastic dish to pair with a great glass of wine on a chilly day!" said Vic.
"Bruise well!" I yelled, and Larry yelled, "Bruise what?"
"Not me," I whispered. I forgot there was no cabbage in the recipe.
"One and a half fluid ounces peach schnapps," called Toni and her hubby grabbed the bottle.
"Hey Sharon, when you're ready to eat, could you just get up and preheat the broiler?" I think it was Vic, could have been Carol or Lucy just as well. It was hard to hear above all the singing and dancing.
"Ummmmmm yeah!" said I, upping Elvis a little more and glancing to where Charlie was doing a two step, Carol right beside him.
♪ ♫ "You can burn my house, steal my car,
Drink my liquor from an old fruit jar,
Do anything you want to do, but honey . . ." ♫ ♪
"While you wait, throw the butter, red curry paste, lime zest and juice, honey and soy sauce into a blender," sang Vic, "and now make the topping!"
Still dancing, still stirring, the party kept going, I noticed Lucy and John jitterbugging in the shade of the old oak tree.
"Hey, Hank, your pasta water should be boiling by now!" Vic said as she patted her hubby on the arm.
"Now flip the fillets over and continue grilling for two to three minutes for medium and while you're at it, spread about a tablespoon of avocado over each chip." Vic kept dancing while she shouted instructions. "Oh, who ate the chips?"
"Roll and fasten with skewers!" Mary said, tapping Rick on the arm with her spatula,"and place skin side down on rack in open roasting pan."
"Oh and then, plunge hand into dough and fold over from edges to center until reduced to original size," she continued.
"Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear." Toni did a shuffle with spoons in her hands, singing instructions along the way, "Stir the honey, orange zest, garlic, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, pepper and water together in the bowl. and pour batter into prepared baking pan!"
I turned Elvis up another notch:
♪ ♫ "Now honey, don't you step on my blue suede shoes . . ."
"Sprinkle each one with chopped pecans and dried cranberries, reserving some of the cranberries for garnish." Toni was walking backwards now, as she called last minute instructions to those she'd just passed. "And reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour."
And Lucy, twirling in circles called: "Cut one cooled layer in half, put halves together with Betty Crocker white frosting or with whipped cream." I looked down and Lucy and John were wearing blue suede shoes! ♫
And so we feasted, sharing a meal, dancing with Elvis and dining in the splendor of a great friendship.
Over a tall glass filled with whatever beverage each of us preferred, and with sleepy looks and tired feet, I heard Vic call across the crowd to Mary:
"The beauty of this recipe is that it can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks and still be as fresh as the day it's made."
And Mary said, "That's great, we have no way of getting it home, Sharon, you take care of all the leftovers!"
And so it was that I turned Elvis down just a little bit, walked down the hill a little way and whistled.
Bounding through the trees came Gussie Mae, followed by Oliver and Sebastian, Waffles and Sunshine, smiles on their faces and tails wagging.
"Here you are, Pupples, you get to lick all the pans clean!"
And so it was and so it is with good friends.
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