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Friday, April 30, 2010

A Peanut And A May Day

The sweet scents of Spring were carried in on the raindrops of April. It was the first of May and Peanut would make a May altar on this day. Her small hands worked diligently to build an edifice as beautiful as she could imagine it. The simple shrine posed atop her dresser on a filigree pedestal fit for a statue of holy virtue. In parochial school she learned the Virgin was the mother of Jesus and deserved love and respect.

Searching through her mother's cupboards and collectibles she found an array of glassware that would make suitable vases. The ones she desired most had the fancy frills of Fenton. But she knew borrowing one of those would also be borrowing trouble. She chose instead a clear cut-glass vessel with a V shape. After a few adjustments to the lace doily and porcelain idol she was off in search of blossoms and blooms.

A quest for the proper nosegay was like an adventure for Peanut. The three acres called home became her undiscovered territory. First she would have to scale the gargantuan piles of pillage that mottled the landscape. The pithy mounded offerings brought to the property to satisfy the marsh  monster.

These great soil mountains of foundry slag and fill dirt hid precious treasure. The young explorer might unearth a priceless marble beauty; a shiny cats eye blinking up at her while resting in its earthy bed. Hours spent panning for gold in them thar' hills might reward her with rocks filled with the fools fantasy. They were a no account nuisance to an adult, good only for landfill or a stony path. But to a child they were a twinkling treasure.

On this particular day she was in search of wildflowers. Perhaps she would find the felicitous flower with the miniature star in the middle. Surrounded by rays of white the petite blossom was like sun on a stem. Her solar daisy was an effervescent flare rising up through the rocks, hovering above the dark soil.

Maybe a rare lucky tulip would be discovered. Lucky because the tiny bulb survived the great blade of the earth mover, been loaded into a dump truck, and emptied into a random pile of dirt in her back yard. Yet, it stood stately, a proud praetorian guard watching for others to burst through the floor of smutch.

After scaling the heights, she would descend to the prairie pasture filled with wild horses. Her mind conceived the old black cow pony as the leader of the herd; young and studly, unaltered in his natural habitat, pawing and calling to his mares. The pubescence palomino called Ginger, the newest addition to his harem, was the most skiddish. 

At the slightest provocation these great muscular beasts could stampede. With the sound of thunder in their hooves they could grind a peanut into peanut butter. But she knew no fear of the four legged lovelies. Bravely she crossed the meadow and in her vivid imagination she became one of the beautiful wild fillies.

For a few moments she was loose of the bonds that hobbled her. Flying over the turf, wild and free, she felt no need to bridle her emotions. No longer saddled with strife or harnessed by harassment, she was unshackled. Galloping unrestrained, until her breath gave out, she reveled in what it was like to know the beauty of untarnished liberty and salvation.

Nearing the end of her journey, success would require her to master the marsh. A fallen tree was the only way across the swampy bog. She stepped lightly, like a gymnast on a balance beam. One slip could plunge her into the morass to be a crocodile's collation. Slowly, arms outstretched, she placed one foot forward gripping the gnarly bark of the emaciated maple. Keeping her eyes riveted to the top side of the slain timber she moved one foot in front of the other. With the precision of a tiptoe on a tightrope she agonized her way across the quagmire.

Leaping the last few inches to the safety of sandy soil she ran off to gather the last of her bouquet. There in the fancy field grew a clutter of uncultivated flora. Wood violets, gaywings,  daffodils and daises dappled the landscape. Here was the fulfillment of her fantasy.

While plucking the pungent posies from their earthy bed, she lay down amid them, and the scents of spring washed over her like fragrant water. The warm sun became her cozy quilt and gazing up into the blue, she concocted cotton clouds into silly shapes. Natures beauty laid near and its tentacles surrounded her reaching into her very soul. Security settled over her like a spirit snuggling her up and enfolding her in his essence.

This was the familiar stranger that followed her; a guardian, a comforter. She sensed his strength in the horses, his majesty in the mounds that became her mountains, and his beauty in the frilly flowers. Here, in her field of dreams, were no atrocities or abuses, no fledglings filled with fear. Here, she was bereaved of belittlement and more than an afterthought. Peace persuaded her to daydream and soon she was lost in her musings.

The bark of her name pierced the quiet presence of the spirit. Obedience demanded she return to reality. There was no rhyme or reason for the anger in her father's voice, but it was unmistakable. His tongue lashed out cruel criticisms, along with the stench of alcohol. Hands that overpowered small fingers curled around the cluster of blooms, clamped closed, and crushed the beauties to bits. Petals drifted to the ground like innocence falling away. A shadow crept over the light and the demons of dread returned to haunt her.

Later Peanut lay curled up like a soft carnation on a chenille spread. Pitiful pleas escaped her and rose like a broken offering to eternity. Tears dampened the caterpillar fabric and sobs shook the altar of the unattended sanctuary. The doily askew, the vase empty, and the Virgin unadorned, stared helplessly down at her.

As her sobs subsided, a whispered promise like an early summer breeze,  lifted the soft curls of her hair. But Peanut had exhausted her tears and was carried away by her dreams to a fancy field and a familiar Stranger gathering wildflowers.

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