And Up the Hill to Dinner

I’m racing down the gravelly hill of our home, out through the gate and on past the blackberry bushes and the crumbling stone wall and the white church crooked into the elbow of the country road. And on we run, my brother and sisters, turning a sharp left into the driveway of the old country home that has seen many children like us through its broken spectacles. And we run to the front door and I stretch on tippy toes to reach the string that rings the bell that brings the shuffling old man to answer in his nods and grunts that yes, we may go forth into the Aladdin’s cave of henhouses and search for eggs.

Everything about this place is tied together with string and odd planks and bent nails. Straw scatters the cracked concrete and hens jump and their hearts hop with them as they flee the paths of our footfalls. I bow my head as I enter one of their safe havens and spy their treasures in the dark corners of the old wood and golden straws. I place the oval wonders tenderly in my cupped t-shirt, cradling one for a moment in a hand to savor the warmth of its shell.

Before we bring the hoard back to the house, we wander past the stables holding donkeys and the nettle-filled walls and the corroded tractor parts and motors that sulk in unused misery. I strain to see over the gate that holds in the ponies and wistfully imagine myself lying hidden in the long grass while the day stretches toward twilight.

The treasure is returned to its rightful owner and, as always, he gives us a portion of our labor. And now we walk, back down the dried mud lane, through the partial pillars that once wore the name of the home so proudly, past the chapel bell that lies silent all week, past the trees that whisper with the wind, and up the hill to dinner.


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