by Trudy Ruck
My brother and I had a weekly summer chore. Our task was to care for all the lawns in our large yard. My job was raking the lushly thick; often overgrown lawns, especially after a hard, bounce-off-the-roof downpour. I loved the job but it wasn't the raking; it was the hidden treasures I found.
At the front of our yard, on either side of the house stood two forty foot blue spruces. They were snug against the house on either side, and adjacent to the smaller house next door. Their wintergreen fragrance permeated the house, inviting me outside.
One day, after raking the front lawns, I stopped for a break. Amid rows of piled grass cuttings, dandelion umbrella's floated in the sunshine. I lay on my back, my face under the blue spruce's lowly branches, spying on the brick-red breasted robin. Her frantic feeding rituals were interesting to watch. Sharp tyeeps tyeeps filled my ears. Sitting elevated above the triangular branches was a russet mossy nest. Her rusty-headed grotesque young were all mouths. As they gobbled the juicy worms, their tiny throats contracted. Hopping erectly, mother robin skirted the huge yard, from rough leaved grass to humid back soil. Her head craned, she listened to the worms squirming in the bowels of the earth. When her beak was brimming with succulent worms she returned to her nest.
I enjoyed digging my stubby green-stained fingers into the soil. I held the wet, slimy worms, imagining I was the mother robin. Over the clanging mower, my brother's screech, get back to work! returned me to reality.
On the other side, where the neighbor's white stuccoed house was close to the spruce, wispy cobwebs made fishnet shadows under the eaves. The squeal of the cars' whitewalls as they turned our corner was muffled. This miniature lawn crammed tightly between our two homes was my favorite.
The corner by the veranda of our house was so shady that only one flower would grow. It was the most exquisite plant. Tiny snow-white lilies of the valley thrived there. The bells velvety shaped petals had two oblong leaves separating them. These waxy leaves felt clammy when I rubbed against them. Their perfumed aroma filtered into my nearby screened bedroom window.
As my thin shaped fingered rake scraped the dry dead grass under the spruce it pulled out a snarl of twigs. Crouching down, I untangled the twigs, it was a robin's nest; inside was a cracked turquoise eggshell with oozing yellowy yolk. I tried to flick off the sticky yolk, but light brown feathery specks flew into the air.
Lying on my stomach, prickly grass tickled and gave my elbows and knees crisscross impressions. I replaced the nest. From the back porch, I heard my name, grabbing my rake, I ran toward the tool shed, until next week.
©2005 Trudy Ruck Used by permission.