Gourds & Canaries the Same
December 19th, 2004. Woodrow, MN
Diane hated the yard. The deck finish was peeling and curling up to heaven. Ragweed shot through her lattice fringes. Frost and sheaves of snow cratered around clods of dog shit. But most of all it was the pitiful throng of squash, pumpkin, and gourds from last month that curdled her optimism. The near-scarlet rusted rounds, the blood-yellow spaghetti oblongs, the speckled green bombs-of-plenty—they mocked her age. They were so bright and temporary, now rigid on one side and sallow, bruised, and penetrated on their bellies, this array of fleeting tightness and color could not continue.
She dashed for her musty garage and pulled out a lawn bag. In ten minutes she was dizzied in the twenty degree evening with a dark sack filled with dead cornucopia bauble. Diane raised her head and stared forward at the sulfuric street lanterns, lending herself time to catch her angered breath. Two boys rode past her on their bicycles; one raised a thumb in approval of her flannel nightgown and knit cap. Alarmed by the boy, she stood rigidly and scoured the street for other lookers. She felt the air cut into her bones. She heaved the autumnal crime scene into her firewood bin and ran back for the warmth of her living room. Jeopardy still glowed on her television screen. As the second round concluded, and before the final question was put forward, Diane sighed with a doleful sting. I’ll get them all lacquered, she thought. They won’t keep their brightest colors, but I’ll not do with this nonsense each time, losing them to frost. I can keep them in the house that way…yes; I’ll not need to watch them die again.
The television glowed before her with the rhythmically medicating sounds of sponsors and announcers. The drug of strobes and tenors, however, fell away. She’d crossed a bridge by venturing outside. Somehow, the remedy to her emptiness made it through the incessant sense pollution of the living room box, its competing and subtle beacon present and pulsing through the black sack as a messenger borne from the menagerie of her seasonal tribute, prevailing beyond its decimation to forge her direction, to give her oxygen once again in the way that powered the wonder of her post-adolescence. There was life in all of its earthen colors, coursing from vine to blossom, and waiting to breathe with the conscious aid of her fingertips.
Her eyes shut, the dancing spheres of gourds—like planetary rinds and crusts—drew her into their constancy; she felt their smoothness and gripping sheen without touching them—she skirted the curves of their horizons like an orbiting shuttle, relentlessly bewildered anew by their draw. She resolved to plant her own in the spring, till, tend, and clip them from their thickest stems so they wouldn’t suffer the way the lamented ones had this fall. As they grow, do I, she thought before dropping off, now whimsically determined to curate these green teardrops from Gaia’s firmament with a vigor bound to thwart her current neglect. She wished the winter weeks away and filled her dreamscope with the imagined jewels of her destined planting. No other garland would hold the same measure, again.