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Friday, November 03, 2006

November First Friday

Amy at Wild Bird On the Fly has a birding short fiction contest each month. Its a good opportunity to get the creative juices flowing. While I didn't win, here's my submission for this month.

Your Kindness We Praise

Pumpkin John thought the small wispy clouds in the otherwise piercing blue sky looked like down feathers. Maybe goose feathers. As he started back to the house, he watched his son emerge from the corn field, head down, his mind obviously somewhere else. Mose would be sixteen next month. Was he already making rumspringa plans? Pumpkin John stared at the clouds, willing himself not to think of the latest whisperings.

Halfway across the pasture, he turned quickly upon hearing the soft explosion of wingbeats from almost underfoot. Oddly, the bird landed in the open, not far away, staring intently at the bearded bear of a man in the wide-brimmed straw hat. Happily, Mose had also seen the bird, and only needed half a whisper and a nod to take off for the house.

Within minutes, dark dresses emerged from the house, straw hats ran from the barn, some coming directly, while others sped elsewhere before returning with others. Boom Amos, Balky Ike, Annie, Rebecca, and Chicken Dan. All with binoculars. Yonnie, Mary, Samuel, and Butcher Joe trailing closely behind.

From State Highway 39, a passerby who took the wrong exit off I-77 could only wonder about the dozen Amish men, women, and children gathered in a wide circle in the middle of the field. Within the circle, binoculars were shared, as the small buffy striped bird stared back intently from behind its dark mask. It shouldn’t be here, out in the open, away from cover. But here it was, surrounded, revealing no emotion, nor anything else. An October surprise.

Finally, the bird answered the intent stares by uttering a short, mechanical tic-tic-tictictic, tic-tic-tictictic.

Pumpkin John, under his breath, almost instinctually responded:
O Gott, Vater, wir loben dich und deine Güte preisen wir.

The rest of the circle replied in kind, singing Das Loblied quietly, in unison, the bird motionless in their midst.

After a final glimpse through binoculars, the circle dispersed into the chill autumn breeze, hearts lifted, as the Yellow Rail looked on.

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