Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)
TITLE: Coolers Full of Cukes
By Marty Wellington
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“Sure is a hot one, Honey.”
“Yep, I’m glad to sit and rest awhile,” said Lorraine as she sipped her lemonade.
Lawrence looked out over their little garden and smiled. Now that he was retired, he relished every day working the crops with his bride and then relaxing in the early evening with the fruits of his labor in clear view. His crinkled, ruddy complexion contrasted with marine blue eyes that twinkled with mischief. A sweat-stained white ball cap, bearing the name of his former employer’s construction company, still crowned his head with pride.
Lorraine kicked off her dusty K-Mart sandals and snuggled into a frayed brown plaid easy chair. Her blue flower print dress clung to her like a wet newspaper. She was content to have ended another day with her coolers full of cukes ready for pickling. Keeping ahead of the crop was a full-time job, but Lorraine reveled in the hard work.
This little piece of land had been their refuge for the last 15 years. Their tiny home in the trailer park up town just couldn’t satisfy their hunger for gardening and open spaces.
Thanks to Lawrence’s good friend, Bill, the Ohls had received this piece of land as a gift to nurture and tend. The jovial couple enjoyed countless days together puttering in their garden once their kids were grown. They restored the windmill bringing rich well water to the surface again. A colorful spray of wildflowers encircled the windmill, making it the centerpiece of the garden.
Lawrence raised himself out of the recliner as he noticed a car bumping up the gravel drive. “It’s Bill. Got ‘im a box ready, Lorraine?”
“Will do.” Lorraine popped right up and started busying herself with filling a sturdy box with vegetables and melons.
The familiar bronze Chevy Impala came to a stop next to the windmill and Bill got out, grinning ear-to-ear. His favorite sweat-ringed straw hat sat askew his bald head. The passenger door opened as well, revealing Bill’s daughter who was home from college.
Lorraine looked up from behind the tomato vines and yelled, “Hey Carrie. Come on out here and help me pick some tomatoes.” The plump ruby red orbs sparkled like jewels through their tangled vines.
Carrie crossed the rows of zucchini, carrots, and lettuce finally reaching Lorraine at the back of the garden. “Hi Lorraine. How have you been?”
“My you’ve growed up. Why it just seems like yesterday when you was a little girl dancin’ around here, helpin’ me pick cucumbers and okra. You still like okra?”
Carrie smiled. “Sure.”
“Then, let’s get after ‘em. We’ve had some new ones put on lately. There oughta be plenty for the pickin’.” Carrie and Lorraine moved over to the trellis that held the okra vines in place.
Across the garden, near the windmill, Bill and Lawrence engaged in hearty conversation about Bill’s farm, the weather, and his feedlot.
Upon filling her sack of okra, Carrie followed Lorraine back to the open-air shed. A huge cardboard box full of cucumbers, zucchini, melons, onions, and a head of cabbage greeted her there. “This one’s for you, Carrie. I’m gonna add the tomatoes and okra too.”
“Wow, Lorraine. You guys are always so generous to us. My mom loves all these fresh vegetables every week.”
“Oh, we love ya honey. Look what your daddy gave me and Lawrence.” Lorraine looked out over her garden, a tiny tear trailed down her dirt-stained cheek. She reached over and wrapped Carrie in her plump arms.
Bill and Lawrence finally made it over to the women. Bill picked up the box. Lawrence grabbed the tomatoes and okra. Loading the bountiful harvest into the car, Lawrence and Bill exchanged their goodbyes.
Lorraine waved, “Carrie, you be sure to come see us next time you’re home.”
Sticking her head out the car window, she waved and said, “I sure will. Bye.”
Lorraine and Lawrence ambled back to the shed, arm in arm. Easing back into their worn-out recliners, Lawrence glanced over to his bride and grabbed her hand. “You know somethin’? I love our garden.”
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