Monday, August 11, 2008

A Summer's Day

The Conversation,
Eastman Johnson,
oil on board, c. 1879.

A St. Helen's summer -- all sucking heat and stunted corn and grass that crunched like moss, and the sky never blue, day after day -- the sky always a bowl of surly yellow like an old bruise and the sun a smear in the yellow haze.

And we watched the sky, westerly, from where the dry winds came, day after day, hoping, as the clay in the fields cracked wide and deep and the river shrank like it hurt from the stones along its bed.

Until one afternoon, the sky rumbled dark and gray and the rain fell, finally, like a great bucket overturned.

I sent the children out to the nearest broad puddle and told them to dance in the mud and the rain.

Children need to laugh and splash and stomp in mud puddles -- to learn the physics of the world.


Ric said...


Economy of words, vivid pictures.

Anonymous said...

To learn the physics of the world...loved that!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Ric.

Children teach themselves a lot, Jason, when we let them.

StarvingWriteNow said...

Bernita, you totally rock.

Bernita said...

Just like an old chair, Beth!

BernardL said...

I heard the crackling grass, and felt the mud between my toes. Well crafted passage.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bernard.

Robyn said...

My favorite line-

"...the river shrank like it hurt..."

You are so good, my friend.

Bernita said...

My favourite line... "my friend."

Gabriele C. said...

Your prose is poetry.

Btw, to make up for the evil meme, I gave you a blog award.

And because you deserve it. :)

raine said...

I remember doing this once as a child, after a particularly hot, dry spell. We ran out and danced like heathens, drinking in the rain.

I could listen to you write all day, Bernita. ;)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Gabriele.
~leaving me feel even more flattered and helpless~

"like heathens"
I haven't heard that expression in years! Mum used it, right?
Thank you, Raine!

raine said...

I haven't heard that expression in years! Mum used it, right?

Mum AND grandmother, lol.
Lovely post.

Bernita said...

Thought so.
So did mine.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

Beautiful prose. It painted the picture perfectly.
Congratulations on the great review by the way.

spyscribbler said...

"Children need to laugh and splash and stomp in mud puddles -- to learn the physics of the world."

LOVE that! They don't, though, you know. Around here, kids don't play. They schedule activities, like play organized sports at 5. It's bizarre.

Lovely piece.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Suzanne.

Natasha, thank you. Something I feel very strongly about.

Steve Malley said...

Rhythm and imagery reminded me of Steinbeck.

Except, you know, happy.

Bernita said...

Entirely accidental, Steve, but thank you.

writtenwyrdd said...

Kids should learn the physics of the world via stomping in mud puddles or skinning their knees, or by crashing their kites. This overscheduling stuff is bizarre to me.

laughingwolf said...

masterful, bernita :)

nothing wrong with dancing in the rain/wallowing in the mud, as one ages, either....

Bernita said...

"This overscheduling stuff is bizarre to me."
And over-scheduling is what it is, Written. Kids are people, not products.

Thank you, Lw. No, there certainly isn't.