The sunbathing ribbon snake is draped across a pile of wood next to my storage shed. The snake is three feet long, thick and yellow striped, and its hot pink tongue flickers. I resist the urge to pick it up because of undue stress on the reptile. Ribbon snakes are docile and popular as pets, but I am content to be shelter and host. They eat crickets and other insects and tree frogs.

The hummingbird feeder has been hanging for days, with no takers. At noon, I take a break from writing and step outside, and notice that the feeder has had visitors. I stand in the window and watch. And wait.

On the Genehouse walk, I get a lightning strike of sciatic nerve pain in my right hip. I am only halfway up Stroke Hill, a mile to go to my house. I go on, limping badly, listening to the coming thunderstorm’s bombast. A black pickup truck ascends the road and stops. Would I like a ride? An older guy named Tom drives me to my home, seconds before the cloudburst slams down.

On the river, long undulating ribbons of white pelicans circle Scotch Jimmy Island, porcelain wings gleaming in the filtered sunlight. Great blue herons and snowy egrets ply the shallows and spear fish. In the trees, a murder of crows scream at an enemy, a hawk or an owl secreted in a fir tree. Whitecap ribbons weave between the island and the shore. The background color is hot pink, frost white – dogwoods and redbuds naked and sensuous. The music is spring peepers.

Along the River Road, ribbons of trash – beer cans, plastic bottles, tossed diapers, six pack rings – decorate the shoulders. The downside of birds is their inclination to litter, especially after downing a few Bud Lights.

My mother stands on the water in a shimmery spring dress, a carefree, freckled girl with her arms outstretched and pink dreamribbons woven into her hair. She seems to have forgotten that she drowned on this day in 1972. Now she lives on Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon with more water that is in Earth’s oceans, in a ribbon of moons.

And there are long, shivery dreamribbons of ants, spider webs, leaf veins, sassafrass bark, dandelion seeds, soldier’s medals, fungi, comets, the song of the mythical ash tree Yggdrasil: “our roots forever joined.”

For never.

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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2 Responses to Ribbons

  1. Mike Homan says:

    Good to see your still writing short elegant essays

  2. P. J. O'Neill says:

    That was beautiful, Gene. Thank you.

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