October 10, 2014

This is a day of slow, steady rain and drizzle. Only the chickadees brave the thistle feeder. The maple tree outside my office window is full of disconsolate birds, all facing south.

The meadow floor seems alive, as squirrels carry nuts in their teeth—some of them tote hickory nuts as big as their heads—and scurry to hiding places, and robins run around helter-skelter and pluck drowning earthworms.

Is there a worm equivalent to Robert Frost’s poem, “Fire and Ice?” The worm poet-in-residence, writing about which way to die is better, drowning or devoured by robin?

Trivia: 75% of native North American worms have been wiped out, supplanted by foreign invaders. That red wriggler you rescued from the garage floor is Italian. Oh, and half the wild animals of the world have died off. Who needs them?

There are five golf ball-sized tomatoes resting on my kitchen window sill—the last of those beloved reds. I will throw them in my wok with kale and yellow squash and peas and brown rice and onions and garlic, and lots of turmeric and hot peppers, and blow my head off.

Farmer Orville (about the last tomatoes): Take all the rest. They won’t taste that good—the sugar’s gone out of them. Me: Did you eat some? Orville: I don’t eat raw tomatoes. Quilt Queen: He doesn’t eat anything he grows. Me (astounded): What? Orville: I don’t like raw things in my mouth. Me: Why do you farm? Orville: Because I ain’t got sense.

You think you know a person. He complains about the crows eating his hickory nuts, yet hundreds of uncollected nuts litter the ground—he won’t eat them. Is there anything my friend would eat off a flowering bush or tree? “Cookies.”

Yes, it is cookie season. Quilt Queen’s kitchen will soon fill up with tins of homemade chocolate chip cookies. She tried to stuff me with them, last winter. That way, if I died, I would taste sweeter when she cooked me in her Genestew.

Rachel and Greg’s hippy wedding is tomorrow, in their back yard, surrounded by soybean fields. The forecast is for drizzle and cold. I am the poet. There are tents and fire pits set up. Rachel jokes that one tent will be for unmarried women and me, ages twelve and up. Buh-dum-bum. My outfit—black sweatshirt, jeans, black Stetson, arrowhead necklace, is all laid out.

The local lore is, the drizzle, chill days of October toughen one up for the coming battle. I have looked all around this morning: cat, birds, coffee shop, the customerless café, the leaden sky, the drooping woods, the bare cottonwoods, Reba the farm dog self-exiled into her pen, the chickens hunkered out of sight in their coop, the horse and feral cats in the barn, the maple tree giving me the finger. . .

I thought, maybe that women’s tent at the wedding tomorrow will yield me a fat female ass to curl up to all the winter, under the comforter, with a cat for feet warming.

As for today, I saw nothing tough.


There was no joy in Rainville.





About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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