All About Writing Prompt: Lady in the Park

Prompt 342

Ranger Percy took her duties seriously. She followed a routine that began with first light and ended well into the dark. It was a routine that most new mothers are accustomed to having:

Coffee,
Change the babies,
Feed the babies,
Out the dog,
In the dog,
Feed the dog,
Prepare for the charge of the babysitter,
Out the door,
Coffee.

She loved her job, creating a safe haven for those who needed to touch nature. Everyday, she followed the park’s trails looking for the beauty she could point out to others. Somedays the park was quiet, and those quiet days were filled with the sights of fawns, ground hogs, bald eagles, osprey. Other days were filled with activity, crowds surging to the river with their churches, earnestly baptizing rogue elements and bringing them back under the banner of the church, praying for the devil to be gone, and sharing an open barbecue with any who wandered near. Or perhaps it was the weddings that were held under the white picnic shelter where everything was new and clean, that fit into her fancy. Somedays the park was filled with rain and wind or snow that caused the gates to stay locked. On those days she poured extra coffee into herself and watched the antics of the deer under the picnic shelters. Safety first, she would think at the deer. Then she would smile at the idea that the deer were so well-trained they avoided the drifts and acted like tourists.

Logs washed up on the riverbank with the changing tides. Ranger Percy would wander among them along the beach selecting interesting driftwood from the boring logs. She saved them for a local woman who wandered through the park, talking to herself, who would paint them with scenes of fish underwater or goblins lurking and then leave them like a sacrifice to the wild. Percy would load them into her vehicle and put them on display at the Visitor’s Center.

Lunch,
Coffee,
Walk,
Second equipment check,
Drive the parking lots,
Return to office,
Read mail,
Call babysitter.

The windows of the Visitor Center filled with steam as the class on batiking for teenagers flowed on. She wandered over to the gift counter and rubbed the steam from the window, only to move rapidly out of the center to the walkway that led up and away from the building. Her homeless woman, the one she left the driftwood out for, knelt on the ground mumbling to herself. She had knife in one hand which she raised over her head and then plunged into a bundle of flannel.

“This for your heart.
This for your hands.
This for your feet
To travel to different lands.”

“Come, my dear, for
where you bleed, is here
in the present and a gift
To succeed. Travel through the smoke…”

Then she lifted the knife and held it over her head saluting the sky. A bag lay on sidewalk, close but not touching her.

“Are you okay, lady? I haven’t seen you around much. Is something wrong?” Slowly Percy moved toward the lady. She kept her handgun in its holster, preferring instead to calm her and keep her from injuring herself or another.

The lady looked at her blankly for a moment, then shook her head. “No, I’m not okay. I will never be okay. I am not sure I will make it through the day, let alone the night. Nothing will be the same.”

“Would you like to have some tea with me? We could go to my office in the Visitor’s Center, it is a lot warmer there too.”

“Why should you care? The world left me long ago. No one will remember me.”

“Come with me. I’ll show you something. I’ll make us some tea.”

They rose together.

Pours cup.
Shares cup.
Smiles.

“Thank you, but this is only tea. Nothing can leave my place filled when I’m gone, and I will be gone.”

Breathes deeply.
Reaches inside.
Holds door.
Ushers.
Follows.

“This is the room I made for you. You left these behind you. I was so surprised to see how they all went together, a mural. Is the display all right with you?”

The bag was opened. The flannel set to one side, with the knife now out of view, and the before the ranger’s eyes was a small wooden figure carved so carefully that it seemed alive. With a sudden intake of air, the figure opened its eyes and reached out to her.

The lonely old lady was gone.

Schedule change…

 

 

Flâneur: A Stroll in the Mind

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/flaneur/

I love walks. Being out in the fresh air gives me hope that I’ll have many days to stroll. When I walk I’m not the only one who goes along. My husband comes to ensure I will not fall of cliffs (yes, I have tried. Not intentionally, but the brain picks its own method of self destruction.) He’s been keeping me from falling off things for 36 years, so he does have some experience.

The leaves have just begun to change. In the back yard, the London Plane trees went from green to brown to on the ground in a new record this year. My maples are just starting to change their color orientation, with or without Mother Natures’s permission. The gum tree, in back of the magnolia which started at five feet tall and now is taller than the house in the 24 years or so we’ve been here. I have three magnolias. All have the dreaded seed pods that attack when you attempt yard work. The mocking birds and robins seem to relish the bright red seeds and have mock battles with the squirrels. No one wins or loses in their combat. I believe it’s mostly for the noise and excitement, like humans, there is charge to their world if chaos reigns.

The humming birds have left. Their stroll takes them south to a mystery place. I never told you but I had a humming bird sit on my head month ago. I don’t know which of us was more surprised. I was reading on the back steps while the pups did their sniffing routine. It was cruising the neighborhood. There was a soft breeze on my head, a light weight, and I was motionless. The experience? Priceless. It stayed for only a few seconds, I believe it was a humming bird equivalent of a nap. As it took off, it hovered for a moment in front of my eyes, just there and then gone. I guess off on its own stroll.

The bald eagles hover up in the air, surveying my path. They watch and wait for someone to drop a fish, snake or other loathsome falling from the sky. They are the royalty again now that the osprey have headed to Costa Rica. Funny how the smaller birds keep the eagles from getting too cocky. We have a murder or two of crows here as well. One species is the fishing crow with its nine inch body. Then there is the family of George. I call them that because my father always called the crows he met George. When I asked why, he told me it was a good name. They are larger, louder and will work with the sparrows to chase the owls at first light. Poor owls just want a nap by then. I guess it’s payback for the lack of sleep some of the smaller birds have at night.

Last night a different species of owl arrived, a different call identified it as “Not the Usual” barred owl. It was much more sophisticated in its lunacy. Barred owls have an insane cry, especially at four in the morning. It’s a hoot, hoot, and a scaled digression that sounds like a turkey gone bonkers. Even the wild turkeys around here look up when they hear the cry, not out of fear, but wondering if crazy old Aunt Loopy has arrived for November’s visit.

I think constantly as I walk. I write poetry on invisible sheets of paper which blow away before I can get home to write them down. I see a list of words, or my husband says something out of the blue that demands I use it, or the dogs bring me things. I’ll give you an example: red leaf, blue sky, mushroom cities, blue birds, raucous cry, diving, heron, snap, slip, fern, caught, kiss, toy wand, treasure. Pretty random, yes? But I take the list and within five minutes this is what happens.

A heron, diving with its magic wand, lands,
Slips upon the red mud, catches itself,
as blue birds and eagles snap their fingers in
Appreciation for the performance.

Blue skies filled with mushroom cities,
Far above our red leaved trees, ferns,
Delight in the loud and raucous cries
From starlings resting for just a moment.

Caught by audience and unable to move
Without creating a scene, I watch
Time creating a masterpiece of unmatched
Performances. Nature gives me a kiss.

A kiss upon my lips, my ears, my eyes,
What treasure is provided for us,
Beneath chilly sunning mornings starting
With the red skies of adventure at dawn.

Yup, that’s what I do when I walk. I lose almost all of the poems to reality, as it snaps me back into focus. You know, things like “Dogs approaching, manners must be initiated.” That means taking my beasties off the trail and making them sit, so the oncoming dogs can pass without a scene. Or things like a branch falling just out of the path, so I have to become aware of the present in a larger venue. Then there is the husband’s comment, “So, what do you think?” That’s the dangerous one. It means I dreamed through the conversation, again. Again, and he knows it. I hit the mental rewind in my head, load the last couple of things he said, and guess at the possible meaning. From this I construe an answer with enough details to pretend I was listening and offering him further time to explain. He counters with “What’s that your thinking? Your eyes have changed.” That means I’m busted.

I don’t need to be anywhere special to be possessed by the spirit of the stroll, it comes to me easier than breathing. I just wish I could walk and type at the same time.

I had a best friend once. Brian O’Malley of the O’Malleys related to the pirate Grace O’Malley who was more of a sharp business woman with a passion for being independent. He said that listening to the conversations in my brain caused him mental whiplash at times. I think that was probably the most accurate description of my thinking processes. I wish he had realized how important such feedback was and not wandered off when I went through dark times. No, it wasn’t a romance. It was someone who thought I was “entertaining?” He was a muse of mine for a bit.

My husband takes all of my mental vacation in stride. He’s not threatened if I wander into new territory, meet people, find unknown paths among the white matter of my brain. He’s a muse of mine as well. He keeps everything I scribble, on anything but food, and pours it back into me when I need a refill of words. I can use them over and over if they are good words.

If you send me a list of words that you collect on your walks, I can make poems for you. I’d like that. Perhaps you will be entertained as well. One caveat, don’t fall off cliffs collecting the words. It hurts if you hit the rocks below.

Ann