It came, not by UPS, or US Postal Service, nor even by a blanket-covered basket left on my doorstep. It–or shall I say she?–came with autumn, rustling among wild flowers and weeds, transformed to rustling straw as the nights became cool and the days dried to faded denim sky, crisp-textured landscapes, and leaves burning off their final weeks of color.
There should have been more raspberries hanging from the sweeping branches of the bush out back of the house. Crows and squirrels tend to shred and scatter, leaving broken branches and halved nodules of black and scarlet berries on the packed ground and unkempt lawn. But the bushes are picked clean, branches curiously untangled and bobbing in the slight breeze that warms this October morning.
Further back, weeds and quick-growing trees have taken over the thin strip of garden that stretches along the back edge of my suburban lot. Late season wildflowers teeter and whisper in family groups, black eyes winking inside faces of orange petals. Inside that chaos of garden, tiny pumpkins twist among the nettles, and potato vines lie pale and spent, their energy now invested in plumping up the tender-skinned potatoes that rest just under the surface of what is surprisingly rich soil.
Clearing autumn brush is my part of the bargain that brings spring back to Minnesota, a task more enjoyable than the mindless and feckless chore of raking leaves. On a more immediate and concrete level, clearing brush separates out the thin strips of quick-growth and clears the way for the potato harvest, before red squirrels can find them.
With leather-gloved hands, I sweep up an armful of wildflower and weed, careful to leave the faux black-eyed susans and prickly pumpkin vines untouched. The pile of refuse grows on the lawn behind me as I work my way back towards the property line. Another threshing sweep of my arms brings an unexpected surprise.
Green scales, chirp like a pennywhistle, eyes whirling crimson, gold, and burnt orange. No bigger than my glove, but such a smile! She stands balanced between plump, stubby legs and a tail as long as her body, her comfortably distended belly a pale gold and spotted with raspberry stains. She chirrups, takes another crunch from the potato held between front claws and topples over sideways.
I draw off my gloves and without hesitation, slip my hands underneath the tiny dragon, inhaling a sharp mix of green potato and burnt leaves. Her spinal ridge is flexible as cured leather, with the beginnings of sharp spines erupting just under its surface like new teeth. She wraps her tail around my wrist and leans back in my palms, continuing to munch.
I turn my back to the neighbor’s house and sit, holding her warmth in my lap.
Liz Husebye Hartmann
Kimberly Blackadar’s Prompt: Create a word picture from a memorable moment in your life (real or fictional) with the “Picture This” theme. Write poetry, prose, a memoir, nonfiction, or an essay.
Greg Schiller’s Prompt: Write a poem, essay or short-story with nature as the theme.
Len Maxwell’s Prompt: Write anything (prose or poetry; fiction, nonfiction, or essay) about the month of October: any holiday in the month (including Halloween), anything that might have happened to you in this month, or anything dealing with the month in general.
Weekly reminder:don’t forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida’s article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!)… Also try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece.