Sunday, January 25, 2009

Otis the Farmer

This picture is proof that awesome socks run in the family. Possibly it is genetic, passed down from mother to daughter.

So! I just finished another assignment for my writing class, and I decided to post it here to share it. I was given a scene to write, and had to brainstorm a list of the 5 senses related to that scene and then write an excerpt from that situation. At first I wasn't sure I could really do it, but it turns out that the exercise helped put pictures in my head and made it a lot easier to write. The result is a little scene that I'm actually sort of proud of.


Crows circled above, silhouetted against the approaching storm clouds, as if the farm were carrion, and Otis stood like a scarecrow, surveying what was once his acreage. The late afternoon shadows stretched across the land he had tended to, lighting the dormant green tractor with a missing wheel, like a prized but crippled racehorse put out to pasture. The land had been kind his family and to the creatures they had raised. Otis leaned against an already leaning fencepost that needed little help to follow the rest of its toppled brethren. The wind was right so you could hear the swine in the next farm over, and he smiled at the memory of chasing pigs out of his wife's vegetable garden.

Now, the garden was overrun with tangled grass and shotweed, with enough pollen to tempt a sneeze out of him from a distance. The rabbits that his wife had battled against for so many years had finally outlived her, and he could hear them scrabble against the siding of the farmhouse as they worked at their burrows. The faint metal clank of a skewed, at one time cheerfully tinkling windchime hanging at the edge of the garden made Otis straighten up.

"Another storm coming," he said conversationally, though he couldn't say to whom. He could taste the acrid ozone in the breeze and knew that rain would soon follow.

Shifting his weight made his boots squelch in the mud beneath them, a slight sucking from the muck protesting his departure as he moved towards the house he had built for dear Mabel. It had stood for a lifetime while they raised their boys and tended their goats, modest like their living but secure and a shelter from turmoil. The feel of the nails embedding into the wood, holding their home together was imprinted into his palms just as the soil that never quite came out from his nailbeds. Loose shutters knocked leisurely, waving at Otis to beckon him inside, to see through the bubbled and waved thick panes of glass from the inside one last time. He turned away from the welcoming wraparound porch before he could clearly see the flaking white paint that he knew thickly coated the wood.

The same wind that had toyed with those tarnished windchimes then found its way through the disheveled slats of the red barn, which had listed to the left dangerously when the flood waters had come. One of the green doors hung off its hinges, stuck in the mud and unable to close. Had any of the goats been left, there would have been no keeping them warm and dry. As he stood in the doorway he could hear the faint hum of a wasps nest somewhere in the rafters, working stoically as he used to, and the scent of moulding hay struck him in its cloying, sickly sweetness. If he breathed in deeply, there was still the faint scent of goat, somewhere between manure, sweat, and grass.

A clunking rhythm had caught his attention, a system that used to work rhythmically but now teetered strangely, the windmill that was now one blade short couldn't find a full rotation in the wind. The mechanisms inside of it creaked and strained, pleading to deliver more water from the well. He knows if he listens he could hear the river from there, not a babbling brook by any means, but a threatening constant like the many wings of a murder of crows. It would rise again and overfill its banks, but this time he would not be witness as it scoured away at the earth.


And now! Another adorable picture of Grunty, tucked into bed.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the selection. Hope to get to read more in the future.

Cool socks!

Kelley said...

Such a great story writer! Your talent amazes me and I love you.