Sort of a microcosm of America, there, all within walking distance.
A pond that is often fished, whose downstream dam still runs (though its mill doesn’t), surrounded by campsites; working farms replete with John Deere equipment leaving hay rolls around to dry on the rolling hills; the big courthouse; the big jail; an animal doctor; an animal shelter; a doggie daycare; a halfway house for opioid survivors; a home for the aged; a shooting range, and.. a hospice.
There was a family over there this eve during my first break. Judging by how far away from the hospice parking lot they walked, I imagined that their loved one had died. They appeared to be adult children from where I sat, and lost as kittens. Then, I think someone called them back in, as they moved rapidly as one toward the front door. When I came out on my second break, they were leaving in three vehicles. They all drove slowly, especially the leader. Gently. To somewhere. Somewhere else, now.
And both break times, my little couple passed by the doors. She’s getting better. I could hear her talking, and down by the three-way, he pretended he wanted to go left and she was tugging him right, and you see how much better she is, now — they were joking with each other! Her gait is still stiff, but she’s not, and he’s not. They are two as one, again, no longer the one as two.
And three seagulls found something irresistible above a parked combine or hayrack or whatever the thing was over in that field. They swooped and circled over and over, and I had to go in before they showed me what in a hay field would hold a seagull’s attention. But it didn’t matter; I had already lived three lifetimes by then, because on my way over, I’d passed a different couple than last week’s, this one had a little girl with them, fishing from the bridgeway at the prettiest part of the pond.
As I came out at last, I saw a man in a black pickup across the length of the parking lot steady his camera on his truck bed side to photograph the startlingly beautiful sunset. Solid, delineated pink and brilliant orange hues nestled into the soft gray dove feathers of dusk. You see why I stay there, all but a (too-tired) pauper for it. I would miss all this, and the deer, the turkeys, the baby robins, the hawk, the owl, a handful of coyotes, crow dances, the snapping flags, sweetly whispering trees, a mockingbird..