Writing... is not exactly like riding a bicycle.... I spent a lot of yesterday rereading some of my started stuff and feel a little intimidated. Jeebus... I don't even remember writing it. And it is gooooood. I read it and wonder how I wrote it... wonder if I can ever get back to that effortless grace... or is that part of me just as old and creaky as my joints. I have ideas for what to write... but to make it beautiful???
He picked up the flashlight but did not turn it on. He knew his way around the house by heart, trailing one hand along the wall and then down the banister. The floor creaked in all the same places, Nugget’s toe nails clicked on the floor as he followed along. He slipped out the back door and stood for a moment, letting his eyes adjust. It was dark, so dark that everything was a flat, black silhouette against a brilliant, shimmering dome of stars. They were so thick, so bright, and so close. It was like all the stars you could not see in all those civilized places, the cities with their street lights and neon signs, had come here to roost.
The air was cool, frosty and his breath was a cloud that caught the light of the stars. His boots crunched on the frost covered ground as he walked out the outhouse. There wasn’t a door, it had fallen off years ago and Bunco said it helped with the smell. Robbie flicked on the flashlight and swept it around inside the outhouse. The last thing he wanted was to be surprised by a varmint when he was preparing to sit down and “enjoy the view” as Bunco was fond of describing it.
As he was walking back into the house, far in the distance he heard the high pitched bark of a coyote and then even further away, an answering howl. He paused, listening. Nugget growled softly, deep in his chest.
Robbie waited until the light in the east was bright before he started working at the wood pile, picking up the familiar double bladed axe and limbering up his arms. Chopping fire wood was one of his favorite ranch chores. Bunco had taught him the fine art of being able to read the way a chunk of wood would split, how to let the weight of the axe do the work, to keep his arms and shoulders loose. He loved the sound and smell of it, the way the logs would fall in half, and mounting pile of wood.
He was still working at it when Bunco came out. The sun had just peeked out above the horizon; and the birds were starting to sing. Robbie left the axe in the chopping block and let his arms drop to his sides, savoring the tingle and ache of the exertion.
His uncle looked up at the sky. “Gonna be another clear day. It’s shapin’ up to be another dry summer.” He eyed the pile of freshly chopped fire wood and nodded, but he did not say anything. The idea of thanking someone for doing something that naturally just needed doing would be as odd as giving praise for breathing or growing hair. And as far as Robbie was concerned that nod was all that was needed.
In a way it was an illustration of life out here, life and death were too close to the surface. Every act, every chore was intimately related to survival… warmth… food… shelter… energy was a precious commodity that should be conserved for these tasks and not to be wasted on words that were essentially redundant. Just the sight of the chopped wood was reward enough, the knowledge that when it was time to fire up the stove the fuel needed would be just an arm’s length away, the food hot and delicious, cooked upon the flames of his effort all the thanks he would ever need.
Seriously, It was like all the stars you could not see in all those civilized places, the cities with their street lights and neon signs, had come here to roost. This blew me out of the water. And the "enjoy the view" made me laugh.