He had grown weary of late winter, that time when a dirty crust of snow still covered last year’s garden and the early robins fought over worms, rising from secret hibernation to turn the earth.
The pale sun peeked through the trees, barely warm enough to turn the dusting of snow on the juniper tree to little icicles, cascading down the twisted branches. The wind blew against a branch and with a tinkling sound, the icicles broke free and tumbled to the ground, shattered like so many dreams.
Snowshoe rabbit tracks bounded through the garden, followed closely by the impressions left by his little wiener dog, Schatzi, always in eager pursuit, but never quite fast enough to catch up.
Blue and brown butterflies, their wings tattered and lacy from wintering over, sought a protected nursery leaf to lay eggs for the next generation of sky flowers. Finally, wearied from their last effort, they fell to the ground and disappeared among last year’s leaves.
Wet earth and decaying leaves left under the cover of snow, warmed and began to release their heady scent, attracting little flies, dung beetles and lady bugs to turn last year’s remnants into this year’s fertile soil.
Eager little flowers pushed their way through the snow, green swords first, piercing the icy layer, like a chick’s egg tooth, to make way for an erect flower stem to bloom in the sun. First came the snow drop, white and sweet, soaking up the brief daylight, then the crocus, marching across the lawn, pushing and shoving until the whole hillside was a riot of purple, gold and white. Purple hyacinths, yellow daffodils and red tulips followed, waving their flags in patriotic fervor.
New green aspen leaves shuddered and quaked in the morning breeze as if anticipating some bad news. Japanese cherry blossoms and redbud trees lofted clouds of pink fluff into the sky and wild plum flowers broadcast their essence into the air, inviting bees to gather nectar.
A virgin queen bee flew into the air, pursued by dozens of eager drones and worker bee escorts and entertained her suitors on the wing. After a time, the survivors followed her back to the hive where she began producing eggs for a new generation. Her worker bees went back to their duties, busily preparing for the new season of flowers to come.
Cicada nymphs stirred, then crawled out of the softened ground like a long-kept seventeen year old secret and spread their wings to fly away in search of new trees to house next season’s choir.
A brilliant red cardinal was sporting with a smaller brown female as they hunted sticks and grass to build a place to lay her eggs. He sang her a love song, “twit, tweet, tooey tooey tooey” and she sang back, meeting him and merging in mid-flight.
“O-chickadee, o-chickadee, o-chickadee,” a pair of Carolina chickadees, mated for life, sang as they hopped together from branch to branch through the juniper and foraged for grubs to nourish her and twigs to build their love nest.
With a magnificent feat of aerial acrobatics, a scissor-tailed flycatcher took flight to snatch a cicada nymph on the wing, then flew away to seek another tasty morsel to impress his mate.
Two turtledoves, perched together on the barbed wire to rest from their labors and rehearsed their evening lullaby, “Oooh woo, ooo ooo ooo.” He puffed out his feathers and they danced around one another, preening, and negotiating the pre-nuptial agreement. Finally, in a great flurry of feathers, they coupled and flew away home.
A lone Cooper’s hawk landed on a small gray granite headstone marked with a United States Army Fallen Soldier’s flag. There was a carefully tended snow drop and crocus garden and beside it another marker, dusky pink sandstone, shaded by a flowering cherry blossom tree, with a different name, different dates and the inscription MOM.
They say stories meant to be told are hidden away for years, even a lifetime, just begging to come forth. Then, one day, when it is their season, they open the secret door and push through the last layer of darkness into the light of day, where they blossom and grow to keep the world in motion.
He went to his corner desk, lifted the time-worn tie-dyed shawl, polished the surface underneath, dusted the framed purple heart, gathered fallen pens and paper clips into a Class of 1969 coffee mug, opened his mother’s diary and sat down at the ancient Underwood typewriter to write.
Song of Solomon
by Solomon Ford Walker, Jr.
He picked her up after school in his bright red Ford Fairlane. He bought her a cherry snow cone then they drove to the edge of town. He parked his car on Chickadee Hill and let the top down so they could feel the breeze. He played soft music on the radio and jumped up to catch a firefly on the wing, presenting it to her as a gift. She lay in his arms and laughed at his jokes.
As the sun went down and stars began to come out, he untied her scarf and ran his long thin fingers through her honey-blonde hair. Her soft lips tasted of cherry and he pressed his mouth to hers then moved down her neck, thrusting his eager body against her. Her dress slid to the floor and he struggled to undo his uniform and take off his shoes. He trembled as he unfastened her cherry blossom pink bra. The shadows deepened as he sang softly in her ear. He whispered promises and sealed them with a kiss. With an impressive acrobatic move, he pushed through her melting layer of snow, like a chick’s egg tooth breaking through to make way for life to begin.
Solomon Ford Walker Annie Marks
PFC US Army, 30 April 1951 – 18 March 1986
Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam MOM
15 March 1950 – 7 August 1969
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:12