"Load up, girls". Them dogs love nothing better than a ride in the Camry and they jumped in quickly when Liza gave the order and threw the doors open. Those dogs love their Momma better than pigs' ears. Pets, unlike kids and men, never bite the hand that feeds 'em and adore you just because you love them. Of course they could have walked to the sunset spot, but this is their solemn ritual. Besides, sunset comes quickly in November when you're hoofing it.
She eases the car onto the field road that borders the cotton field across the lane. Faith and Butterbean are eager to explore whatever Momma has on her mind, and they hang out the windows with the breeze blowing those puppy ears every which a way. They've been running and playing in the yard like kids, pickin' at each other and chasing away the day. Butterbean has this funny little gangster limp from a broken leg as a puppy, but she can keep up with her big chocolate lab sister any day of the week. Liza's special spot is about midway around the periphery of the cotton field , where the sun shines just so through the little forest that is home to those cows her Daddy raises. The dogs pile out into the woods, and she clears the dead wood out of her path.
Lumpy is in jail now, for thirty days this time. Last time she saw him, if she didn't recognize the truck, she wouldn't have known he was the man she was married to for twenty years. Ravaged by crack and meth, he had shown up one day to give back the furniture her family had donated to his home away from home after the divorce. He always was a prideful sort like that, which probably explains why the marriage died a slow and painful death. Lacey puts on a brave front, but when the subject of her daddy comes up she usually cries. Who wouldn't be sad about that kind of thrown away life?
Liza stops to examine a tree she's never noticed before. The limbs resemble the branches of a Christmas cactus, like segments on one of those worms she studied in college and couldn't identify now if her life depended on it. The rays of the setting sun are gentle and lazy. Full of shine that bounces off of the reds and golds of the leaves in a way that makes her feel full of...what, exactly? Awe, perhaps. Peace. Gratitude for the luxury of a lifetime in a paradise that others only dream about.
Something catches her eye moving across the still lucious green pasture down below. At first she thinks it is a hawk on the wing, but it seems to be lower to the ground and the dogs are standing at attention. Smiling to herself, she realizes that it is the deer spot and of course, it is a fawn scampering back to its' mama. Tis the season...there will be more of that in the coming months for those faithful enough to come and watch in the stillness. Across the bean field and through the next thicket is Bubba's duck blind, skillfully camoflaged and waiting for the perfect moment when the water is right and the birds fly back home. He is the middle child, and the older of the two boys that have grown up with her, alternately delighting her and pissing her off. This farm is their legacy, and one that they don't take lightly. The younger boy, Harold, has moved away to Virginia. Lord have mercy! What a pain them little brothers were when she was growing up in their midst.
She makes her way back to the car for a bit of mood music. Hmmm...what shall it be to commemorate this beautiful occasion? The console is full of CD's fit for an eclectic music lover. She shuffles through them and spots the one she wants... Josh Groban and his beautiful voice. This particular disc is one of the few that she has been able to afford to buy, but he has never disappointed her. Neither have James Taylor or Carlos Santana or John Mayer. She likes the bluesy girls too, like Kathy Mattea and Pearl and the Dixie Chicks. Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Patsy Cline. Music always has made her step a little lighter.
Popping Josh into the player, she settles back into the seat and watches the day melt away into a giant fusion of autumn vibrancy mixed with pink, blue and orange. Tears begin to stream down her cheeks and she doesn't know why, exactly. She must be having a moment, like she's prone to do. Like when it all seems too good to be true and too bad to believe and she whispers "Amen" as he croons You Lift Me Up.