One Tiny Moth Hole

Matilda parked Grandma under the tree while she hung the wet sheets on the line.  “I love the smell of fresh laundry,” Grandma said as she watched her hired care giver.  Matilda smiled and nodded.  “This has always been my favorite tree,” she continued, lifting her arms to take in the outstretched branches, the canopy as broad and round as a hot air balloon, the leaves large and bluish green, the blossoms fat and white.

Matilda took a quick upward glance, mindful that she had other chores to attend to.  “Um, just what kind of a tree is this?” she asked.

“Quiggle, Farkell, Joker,” Grandma said in a rapid mumble as if it were all one word.  

Matilda reared back.  “Excuse me?” she asked.

“That’s what my grandkids called it—‘the quiggle-farkell-joker tree’—because they liked to sit under here on a blanket and play cards.”

“Oh.”  Matilda frowned, probably sorry she had asked.

Grandma smiled, remembering how she used to chop fresh tomatoes and peppers for salsa, how she and the children would snack on it midafternoon, gathered round the kitchen table during summer break.  But Grandma could see Matilda fidgeting.  “It’s okay,” she said.  “I know you have other things.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Matilda muttered, seeing her chance, and she scurried off.

Ma’am, Grandma thought.  She used to have a name, but now everyone called her Grandma or Ma’am, or Missus.  Maybe she couldn’t afford a first name anymore, not in this economy.

She looked down to unbutton her sweater, and discovered one tiny moth hole midway between the collar and hem, almost directly over her heart.  Her soul might escape through this small aperture, it might slip into a different dimension, soar with a red shouldered hawk, buzz the levee and follow the river all the way to the bay.  Would she find her grandchildren there?  They’d be wearing fancy suits at their fancy jobs in the business district, wouldn’t they?  Could she glimpse them from a balcony window, remind them of the magic tree in their grandparents’ yard?

Maybe instead she would go east toward the mountains, passing over meadows filled with brown and white spotted dairy cows, all chanting “No Nukes, No Nukes!”   She laughed, remembering these militant bovines, a symbol from her youth.  They came to her now in dreams, lowing and moaning their intense concern for the future of the planet.  Was it too late?  She could not reassure them, not if she came as a woman or a hawk.  She would have to come as a dog, or maybe a lamb.  No, no, she would have to invite them into the new dimension with her.  It was the only way.

She closed her eyes, conjuring a new landscape of lush meadows and trees with blue leaves.  Somewhere down the road she would imagine a small cottage with a shady spot for picnics and games, and a sunny patch near the kitchen door for nasturtiums and tomato plants.  Because it wouldn’t be paradise without home-grown tomatoes. 


This week I took the photo myself of a couple of very old buttons that have been tucked away for decades!

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