Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)
TITLE: Never too Early, Never too Late
By Marita Thelander
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Dot shuffled through the house and hummed a tune of no particular origin. She stopped in front of the calendar and squinted. “Today’s the first day of spring.”
Satisfied that the beloved day had finally come, she wore her ever present toothless smile and shuffled through the kitchen. With a wave of her hand, she dismissed the pile of dishes as if to say, not today, or any other day by the looks of it.
The screen door slapped behind her and Dot inhaled deep. She eyed the sky, smelled the air, and clamored down the rickety steps. Her waddle seemed worse today than usual.
“Got a catch in my get-along,” Dot’s voice drew the attention of the alley cat. “Still be a bit too cold for planting.”
“Meow,” the sorry looking stray rubbed her leg.
“I got scraps for ya, Scruffy.” Dot bent to pet the flea infested critter. “You done real good keeping the mice population down lately. I’ll reward ya.”
Dot spent the better part of an hour in her garden. She mumbled to herself as she plotted and planned.
Nick planted a kiss on his wife’s cheek while she cleaned up breakfast dishes. “First day of spring, Baby.”
“Yep,” Lynn glanced out the kitchen window at the grey skies. “Not too promising yet.”
“I bet Grandma Dot is biting at the bit to get at it.” Nick opened the door and took a whiff of the air. “The Almanac said we could plant early this year, but I’m not so sure I believe it.”
Nick grabbed his lunchbox and headed off to the mill. He closed the gate behind him and glanced at his own garden spread. He walked the half-mile to work and pondered what he could do different this year.
Dot lowered her squat body to the porch. Scruffy perched over the pie tin of scraps, content with a meal and a little company.
“Let’s see what the Almanac says, Scruffy.” She wandered through the Farmer’s Bible and stopped to hold her large magnified glass over the dog-eared pages. “Everythin’ indicates we can plant early.” Dot glared at the grey skies and sniffed again. “Never been wrong before. Wonder if Nicky knows to come early.”
Scruffy pawed at Dot’s lap to make a bed and listen to her prattle. “Meow.”
“Nope, not gonna call him. Don’t wanna bother him. He works hard and has his own garden to get ready.”
She dumped the poor alley cat out of her lap and headed to the plastic meals-on-wheels container turned greenhouse. “I knew these would work real good for startin’ plants.”
“Meow,” Scruffy purred at her feet.
Lynn brought Nick a hot cup of coffee and wrapped her arms around his muscular torso then slid her thumb into the waistband of his Levis.
Nick patted her hand and took a sip of the hot liquid. “I think I might plant some sunflowers along the fence line.” He nodded and pointed with his cup, not willing to let go of her hand on his hip.
“Are you going to call your grandma?” Lynn pressed.
Nick smiled, “Nope. It’s just how we Whitman’s do things.”
Dot stood on her front porch and waited for Elsie to come fetch her for church. Her ten-year-old bonnet sat a bit askew on her head, faded and missing a few flower parts. She inhaled deep of the fresh air and admired the clear blue sky.
Elsie’s minivan stuffed with neighborhood kids, pulled up to the curb. “Happy Easter, Miss Dot.”
“Happy Easter to you all,” Dot reached into her purse for her stash of foil wrapped chocolate eggs.
“Really, Dot,” Elsie protested, “before church?”
“I’d rather they melt on their faces than in my purse.” Dot popped an egg into her own mouth. “Gonna plant my garden soon.”
Elsie shook her head, “It’s early still. Besides, you don’t even have it tilled up yet.”
“You worry too much.”
Nick licked his IRS envelope shut and shoved it into the mailbox.
Lynn sighed, “Never too early, never too late. That’s my Nick.”
Dot hummed and cooked, “I use to whistle before I lost my teeth.” Dot winked at Scruffy, now a welcome visitor inside the house.
“He’s comin’ I tell ya.” Dot eyed the clock…Eight-fifteen.
Nick slammed his truck door shut and began to unload his rototiller.
“Yep, never too early, never too late, that’s my Nicky.”
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