By Audrey L. Barclay
I drove leisurely along the highway, thoroughly enjoying the warm spring sunshine that had succeeded in burning through the early morning fog. Down in the valley stray remnants of mist lingered still, but seemed to be dissolving before my eyes.
Dame Nature was staging her annual Spring Festival, and never had she been more generous with those things that go to make up a spring day in the Ozarks.
Light popcorn clouds floated high in the sky, while a brook rippled merrily beside the road with a little gurgling song of joy.
I paused awhile at the top of the hill to drink in the beauty of the scene below me. I was filled with an overwhelming desire to explore the old apple orchard that made such a picturesque background for the tumbledown farmhouse at the end of the lane.
I wondered if I dared invade the premises for a closer look. Being a somewhat timid soul, I had no wish to be accused of trespassing. Eventually, after carefully considering the possibilities, curiosity conquered caution and soon I had crawled between the two sagging barbed wires that enclosed it.
Immediately I was in another world. The trees were old and gnarled; it was evident they had never known a pruning knife. They were ideal for climbing purposes, and I found myself wishing I were ten again.
I wandered about beneath the trees, pausing occasionally to sniff at a fragrant cluster of the waxy, pink and white blossoms. The air was filled with the delicate fragrance.
Every tree housed its own quota of birds and played host to countless busily humming bees.
As I approached a thicket of wild blackberries near a corner of the orchard, a half-grown rabbit scampered from a clump of sedge-grass at my feet and was soon hidden deep within the thicket.
A few steps farther my attention was attracted by the curious actions of a turtle-dove. It would fly a short distance, then flutter as if it had a broken wing. I was sure the poor thing had been wounded, until I suddenly remembered it was a ruse often employed by a mother dove to lure enemies away from the nest where her young were hidden. I went poking about here and there hoping I might get a peek at the baby birds, but no such luck. They were too securely hidden.
I came at last to a tree that was larger than the others. I knew at once that it had been a happy and enchanting playground for children no doubt long since grown. In the coarse, rank grass that covered the ground I could trace the outline in stones of a playhouse. Here and there were a few moss covered bits of chipped and broken china, and I wondered if the children who had placed them there were as happy now as they were in their long-ago make believe home.
From a limb on the opposite side of the old tree, swaying gently in the breeze, hung two frayed and decaying ends of a rope swing--mute monument to a lost childhood.
Editor's Note: It's springtime now (April 2013), making it the perfect day to post this story. Do you want more of it? Yeah, me too, but this is all we have. Once again we're left wondering if pages are missing or if this is where Grandma Audrey ended it. It's a mystery.
Nevertheless, I love Audrey's use of imagery in this piece, the way she takes her readers along with her on her walk through the apple orchard and, through words alone, makes us imagine we're there with her, seeing exactly what she saw. I hope you enjoyed the time with her as much as I did.