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The VVA Veteran Reviews Prelude

Prelude was recently reviewed by David Wilson, a reviewer from the site “Books in Review II.” Wilson's review eloquently chronicles his reaction to the novel alongside his own experience in Vietnam. "I highly recommend this novel, both as a good read and as a glimpse into the lives of...

SD Sawyer

afternoon delight

Guilt was what dragged me down to the garden.  I hoped to make amends for all the nights I worked on my novel past dinnertime then asked if he minded if we ate out— all the Saturday mornings I slept in while he crept downstairs in predawn dark.  I knew what he was doing—  hauling stacks of empty bushel baskets out to the garden, picking vegetables by the headlights of his pick-up truck for market. Yet I slept— not soundly, but I did sleep.  And when he drove down the driveway heading to Farmers Market, I awakened, ready for coffee, my writing tablet, and the porch swing.  Yes, I’ve had some guilt over this whole gardening thing.

But those first two weeks in September, 2011, we’d never had so much rain.  The day he read 10” in the gauge was the day he stopped measuring.  Between rows of corn and beans, squash and  peppers were streams.  Only a few inches deep, but they flowed.  When they stopped, he checked the garden again.  “Lost it all,” he announced not looking at me.  “Don’t know why I bother planting year after year.  Summer droughts— I bought all that irrigation stuff.  Now the rains.”  He shook his head from side to side, pushed open the screen door and headed to the shed.

I rinsed out our coffee cups, stood at the kitchen window and watched this larger than life gray-haired man as he grew smaller with each step, head down back into his garden.  And I saw bushel baskets swinging from each hand—  his refusal to accept defeat. If anyone can salvage anything . . .

For too many reasons to mention, I don’t garden.  But this man, my husband of 43 years, brings out things in me I never knew were  there.  I pulled on the only boots I own, snow boots.  Tucking in the tops of my jeans, I hurried after him.  At least I thought I hurried. When I reached him, he’d already picked a half basket of green beans.

“Plants are knocked over, but the beans look soft,tender, perfect for freezing.”  He nodded at my observation.  “Where should I start?”

“Other end of this row would be good.”

Quietly we worked, hunched over, moving slowly toward each other, the only sound being the handfuls of beans we’d toss into the wooden baskets beside the row.  Not quite reaching the middle, my left foot sank deeper than it had done the previous step.  I lifted my right foot to move ahead.  It sank deeper than the left.

I looked up.  He didn’t. I tugged on the jeans around the calf of my left leg.   My foot wouldn’t budge free from the mud. I tried my right foot.  It sank more.

He still hadn’t noticed.  In fact, he didn’t look up until I asked something about whether or not there were sinkholes or quicksand on our farm.  Standing straight, he leaned back and looked at me.  An expressionless sort of look.  Careful not to trample the plants, he moved back down his section and came around to free me.  When he reached for my leg, I fell forward, landing on both knees.  They quickly sank. “Can you hold onto some weeds for balance?” he asked.

I guessed not.  My body lunged forward.   Plants, beans and my hands followed.   All but my face slid into the mud.  When I rolled free, I stood up and walked zombie-like toward the house. “Just leave your boots in the garage.  I’ll clean ‘em off.”  I couldn’t tell if I heard a smile in his voice.  I didn’t look around to see.

Oh—  he knows. I thought to myself.  I know he knows.  This will become a poem, short story,  or a blog entry. The spouse of a writer learns to be careful. Very careful.  I’ve already written a 398 page novel about this man.

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2 Responses to afternoon delight

  1. Katie Sawyer says:

    what a great first post! can’t wait for the second or the 398 page novel

  2. sarah says:

    I can totally picture this!

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