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Monday, August 23, 2010

Grasslands Pup

August heat braised the desert river valley.

As the shallow water

disappeared downstream,

the salmon run began.

Roosting inland gulls foraged on warm sand flats, and eagles fished

while on the dusty hillsides, brush and lichen crackled underfoot, dry as tinder. Deadfall branches snapped.

Lightning strikes kindled wildfires in the grasslands, torching conifers ravaged by pine beetles.

A haze of smoke half hid the distant golden hills.

At last rain came.

Along Fiona's shady street, mountain ash bore bright berries and crab-apples ripened.

Apricots grew round and heavy then fell to the ground, but Fiona missed her friends. 
"Why did we have to move here?"  she asked.

In the emptiness beneath the rainbow, she longed for a puppy. 
"All right," said Mom.  "Let's go look at these pups at the farm."
"There should be laughter after pain, there should be sunshine after rain," crooned the tenor on the car radio.

They followed the rainbow to the ranch at Coldwater Road.

"Our farm dog had thirteen puppies," explained the lady at the ranch. "We want to find good homes for them."
The family said goodbye. The girls whispered to the puppy in her travel crate.

"Goodbye, pup," waved the sun-fresh laundry on the clothesline.

"Goodbye, pup," leaned the ladder against the unpainted plank shed.

"Goodbye, pup," nodded the sunflowers beneath clear blue sky.

There were rainbows in the garden where fences make boundaries and endings make beginnings. Gladiolus spires nudged dahlias. "Goodbye, goodbye."

At first the pup was timid in the big room. She missed her old family.
"Are you my friend?" she asked.  Fiona laughed, and sat close.
"Let's call you Soda," said Fiona. "You have freckles on your legs like fizz in Ginger Ale."

Next morning Fiona and her mother took the pup to the park. Soda liked it there. She shook off raindrops, and trotted along gravel around the bend in the road.

With a backwards look,

with a moment for rest and reflection,

in the dry grasslands, Soda pup came home like gold at the end of the rainbow.

(credit to Dire Straits for the lyrics "Why Worry" from the album Brothers in Arms.)

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