Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)
TITLE: Weeping Willow
By John Wacaster
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So she ran. She skipped, galloped and hopped through the meadow. She ran around the spring fed pond that edged up beneath her beloved willow tree and she scrambled up onto the gentle round curve of a great low branch and settled in for a show. Like a curtain opening, the surface of the pond rippled in the breeze. Cassie stared down and blurred her eyes until sunburst diamonds sprinkled across the water. Then she leaned back and heaved a sigh of contentment. Some days she brought one of mothers books. Today however, was one of those exceptionally beautiful days, and mother nature herself would keep wonder wings flying in Cassie’s heart. As Cassie settled in, the chipper tune of a song sparrow reminded her that she was not alone. Cassie pulled a small plastic bag of sunflower seeds out of her pocket. She stuck one in her mouth and threw several down to the ground.
There was a red-winged blackbird sitting on the fence line between the meadow and the wheat field. Way up in a tall thin poplar in the corner of the meadow, a crow cawed and flapped her wings. The song sparrow kept right on singing. It was grumpy old Mr. Blackbird that stalked up warily and quickly snapped up one of the seeds. Grumpy old Mr. Blackbird. He seemed to walk with sort of a chip on his shoulder just daring anyone else to come around for the remaining seeds. That is, until the grey squirrel loped over from behind the tree towards where the seeds lay. Then Mr. Blackbird turned and fluffed his tail feathers as if to say, “Hrruuummmpf!”, and he flew away. The grey squirrel put most of the remaining seeds in his mouth, then he looked right up at Cassie and scampered off.
This was the second summer since Cassie’s mother died. Late in the winter of the previous year she had contracted pneumonia and passed away. With the winter wheat just barely out of the ground and the blustery winds blowing across the fields, the landscape of Cassie’s life had changed forever. Grandmother had come to stay. Daddy carried his pain around like grumpy old Mr. Blackbird. Cassie coped with her pain by dreaming of floating castles and flying unicorns from the stories her mother had read her night after night for years. Dear Grandmother did the best she could. Poor Daddy worked almost all the time in the spring and the summer. Why, it seemed he worked even harder since mother was gone. She might have been alone, if not for those stories and the books mother had left behind.
A frog plopped into the pond a little to the left of the willow tree. A dragon fly flew away, making a narrow escape. The song sparrow still sang and Mr. Blackbird slipped in from somewhere and picked up another sunflower seed. Cassie watched him fly away through the meadow and over the flowing ears of golden green wheat. On the horizon there were cumulous clouds rising up all billowy and bright against the deep blue ocean of sky. Cassie began to dream of kings and queens, floating castles and flying unicorns. Grandmother had gone back home for a week to take care of some business before the harvest started. Daddy would be working late as he prepared for the heavy work that was coming. Tonight Cassie would wait until the first stars showed up in the evening sky and the song sparrow stopped singing. When the gentle round curve of the willow bough grew rough and hard and the cool breeze blew like a curtain call, Cassie would run home to cook Mr. Blackbird his dinner, and give him a warm hug before bed.
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