The Egress

PT Barnum was a famous showman.  So famous was he that when he would put on a show, people would crowd around various exhibits and block the way for others.  In a flash of (what some would call) genius, he put up a sign that read "This way to the egress!".  People having no clue what an "egress" was, would go into the space, linger at an exhibit like the Lobster Boy or the Bearded Lady, but they would always want to see the "egress".  When they had seen all of the other exhibits or not they would go with glee to see the egress.  To those who don't know, an "egress" is the exit and people would find themselves standing outside.  So, this is our egress...That part of the show where we exit and invite you to come back with some little bit encouragement.  Take a look at some fiction, some odd fact, some thing you didn't know, more specifically, some thing that you didn't know you wanted to know.

The Farmer's Field: part 9 by Jonathan Sanchez
  The farmer's stepped through the path he had created through the fallen trees. His old field stood before him. All at once, his memories of the site overwhelmed him. He could see earth beneath the thick layer of wispy weeds that had grown over them like they weren't there at all. He instinctively knew where each row began and ended. The farmer walked slowly as he approached the field, his memories overlaying the reality. He stopped at the edge and breathed in the air. The cool air brought back the memories of how hard he worked in the beginning, turning the earth into a work of edible art. He envisioned placing each seed into it's fertile bed, and how it grew. He remembered tediously taking care of each plant, making sure it was watered and free from the gnawing of insects or the encroachment of weeds. He thought of all the talks he had with them as he walked alongside them in the rows. As his sweet memories returned, so did the sour ones. He would have sworn at that moment that he could still hear the chainsaw coming closer and closer.
  Soon the memories came to the point of his discovery of the destruction and he shook his head to free his mind of them. Looking up at his field he could see the lone power pole standing in the middle of the long weeds that had overtaken the clearing. It held the humming electrical wires aloft, looking strange and out of place against the backdrop of the forest. The long weeds surrounding it looked golden in the sunlight, and the farmer could make out small rises where his rows were. He also saw long ruts made by the heavy equipment the linemen used running perpendicular to his rows. The long weeds tried valiantly to cover up everything under it's blanket of growth. The farmer imagined in another couple seasons, no one would be able to discern any evidence of any attempts at gardening in this spot.
  As the farmer stared at his field, things came into view that had escaped him during his reverie. The wispy weeds had grown over other plants in it's reach for the sunlight. They sent long roots from their segmented stalks that reached for the ground despite being several inches from the soil. He stood at the beginning of one of his rows and reached down, grabbing a handful of the weeds and yanked them free. He looked around for his bucket that he usually threw the weeds in, but then chuckled as he remembered  it was back at home nearby his other smaller plot. He threw the weeds as far as he could away from the garden and reached down to repeat. After pulling a few clumps of weeds, he saw what he was looking for. Tangled in the roots of the weeds was the remains of a squash vine. It was dry and brittle, but thick and full grown before being overcome by the vine-like weeds. He at once began pulling the weeds free like a mad man, throwing the pulled ones over his shoulder until he had cleared a small corner of his field.
  The farmer didn't even notice the cold any longer. He stared at the cleared corner. He could see where most of the plants in this area had grown despite the intrusion of the linemen and their destruction. He could tell where his tomato plants had grown, but had fallen over without any support. That had not stopped them from bearing fruit. The farmer could see the remains of actual tomatoes that had fallen from their branches to the ground. Time had made their skin paper thin and scattered it's seeds under the covering of the weeds. The rows where the squash plants grew showed where the plants grew huge leaves to cover the squash they bore. The squash them selves grew to enormous lengths with thick warty skin. It looked like it took a little longer for them to disperse their seeds than the tomato, but they did. On another row, he saw where he had planted radishes. Their stalks had reached for the heavens before flowering, their massive roots grew so fast and large , the farmer could see the splits in them above the line of the soil. The stalks had fallen over under the weedy growth, casting it's tiny seeds over the ground which it fell. Along the edge of the field , he could see where he had planted onions and garlic. Their stalks from the year before had flowered, dried, and fallen, but where their dried stalks came out of the ground, new leaves had poked through the soil marking their position in the rows. Everywhere the seeds landed from the plants that had grown without his knowledge, he could see small green specks of life returning. The wispy grass that had grown over them had actually protected the young plants from the dangers of frost as they sprouted from their seeds.
  The farmer gingerly made his way into an area of his field where he hadn't  pulled the weeds. He gently lifted the strands of grass like a blanket. Underneath he saw more of his garden's regeneration. Small green leaves were scattered under the thick layer of weeds and dried stalks of the plants he had raised. He decided then to leave what grass was there for now, to keep them under protection from any future frosts. He even walked the edge gathering some of the weeds he had pulled to recover the small seedlings he had uncovered. He didn't think as he worked, only dreamed, and he felt better than he had in a long time.
  The farmer was ecstatic. He never imagined such luck. Despite all his worry and depression of losing his field under the progress of man, the plants prevailed and continued to thrive.The plants did what all life does, it goes on, despite adversity. He thought momentarily of his lost vegetables, ones he would never eat because he didn't bother to check on them once he felt his dream shattered. He shook that thought free as he began to dream about the future and the loads of vegetables he would be eating. He looked over his field, covered with dried weeds and a power pole shooting up to the sky in the middle and smiled. As he walked back through the path he had cleared through the fallen trees, he almost forgot his wheelbarrow and the reason he had entered the woods on the first place.

The Farmer's Field: part 8 by Jonathan Sanchez
The season turned but the weather was still mercurial. Some days were warm, with the sun lancing through the pines surrounding the farmer's place. Some days, the northern winds brought down a cold that cut into the farmer despite being bundled up, making his old bones ache. He began his work on his small garden plot before the weather warmed up for good, hoping to get it ready for the seeds. He worked shirtless on the warmer days, but when it was too cold for that, he would build a small fire outside somewhere near himself to keep warm. The wind blew on the cold days keeping the smoke from overcoming him, and he worked around his plot with his simple tools. When the fire died down or he caught a chill, he would visit his woodpile and grab enough to rekindle the flames. As he worked in these cool days, the woodpile he worked so hard to amass during the winter began to dwindle again. He dreaded having to return to the woods to gather more because he had gathered so much up and down the power line that he would have to travel pretty far to find some. He knew of one spot that was closer, that he had been shunning all winter, and he still wanted to avoid it.
  The cold days brought cold nights and the farmer's woodpile was nearly gone after trying to keep warm during the day. He tried to conserve it's use, but even after trying to ration the wood's use, one day he realized he wouldn't have enough for the night. He would have to leave the work in his garden and venture out to collect some more wood from somewhere. He had picked up what firewood he could from the surrounding area before traveling along the power lines, so he had only two choices. He could use the whole day traveling far away from his own place, or he could bite the bullet and head to the field where he had planted his greatest garden, the place where his dreams had died with the linemen's progress. He really wanted to do more work on his new garden plot, and he didn't feel like he could waste anymore time. He took a deep breath as he made his decision, resigned to his fate.
  Despite not wanting to waste time, the farmer found all kinds of things to do that seemed important at the time, but inside he knew it was just procrastination. He fed his chicken and checked for eggs. He noticed a rake had fallen from where he leaned it and had to put it upright. He went to get his wheelbarrow, but the tire seemed a little low, so he went to the shed for his air pump. On the way, he noticed his coffee cup. He usually spent a little time in the afternoon hunting it down, but decided to go ahead and put it where it belonged. When he returned to the wheelbarrow, he realized he had forgotten to get the pump and went back to get it. He sighed when he got the pump off the shelf in his shed, knowing that he was actually one step closer to gathering firewood at the spot of his old destroyed field. When he returned to the wheelbarrow, he set the pump inside it so he could move the wheel so the valve stem was in a convenient place for him to attach the pump. He stopped it next to one of his gardenia bushes and bent down to pump the tire. As he squatted down, he noticed something under the bush. The decayed remains of the only squash he had picked from his field was scattered on the dark soil under the bush. There were seeds strewn about, all different sizes, and a number of them had sprouted. Small white tendrils escaped each seed, reaching for the soil. In a few spots, the seed's root had taken hold of the ground and stood the seed upright. Others had cast off their seed shell and displayed their seed shaped leaves as it tried to grow under the bush, struggling for what light it could reach. The farmer was surprised and at once became more energetic. What he himself had cast off, had taken it upon itself to continue life as it could, it grew despite being thrown away. 
  The farmer sat and stared at the growing plants in their different stages and wondered about each seed he saw. What compelled them to keep going? They didn't seem to be affected by the destruction of the garden like he was, they just kept going doing what they were supposed to do. He wondered if there were more plants like that coming up in the old field where the linemen crushed through in their progress. He shook his head to break the spell and affixed the pump to the wheel and pumped vigorously, now in a hurry to go to the spot in the woods he had been avoiding for so long.
  The path he used to take had grown up over the summer and the tire on his wheelbarrow bounced as he traveled down it. He plowed through briers like he was plowing his field, hardly noticing when the thorns tore into his clothes and grabbed at him. He acquired many scratches as he forged on, but his mind wouldn't let him feel it. His purpose became singular and he noticed nothing as he drove the wheelbarrow deeper into the woods towards the field. Whatever creatures that were around stayed clear of the mad man nearly running through the woods. The farmer almost forgot his true purpose for coming into the woods with his mind stuck seeing his old field. He actually passed several newer downed limbs and didn't even see them as firewood, just obstacles in his own progress. 
  The farmer's dreamy mind took over in a way that hadn't occurred in a long time. His dream of the grand garden gracing the field was back only this time with a power line cutting through the sky overhead. The feeling the farmer had was one of relief, like a weight had been lifted from his soul. He hadn't even reached the field and he felt like he knew what he would see. He started to feel happier than he had been able to feel in a long time.
  As the farmer neared the spot in the woods where the field waited,  a sense of reality set in. There was a small wall of the trees the linemen had cut blocking his way. It was then that he remembered why he had originally came into the woods. He set the handles of the wheelbarrow down and started breaking off limbs. He knew he had to fill the wheelbarrow, but he was more interested in clearing the path so he could continue on. Looking over the wall of fallen trees, he could make out the clearing where he had worked so hard last year. Long weeds had taken over and masked the rows he had hoed and the ruts the trucks made when they drove through. The farmer grabbed branches and tossed them aside, putting larger ones into his wheelbarrow as an afterthought. He tried to work quickly, yet carefully, knowing that sleeping, slithering snakes could be laying languidly under each log he grabbed. With his quick pace, a path emerged through the small wall and his wheelbarrow was full to overflowing. He left it behind as he stepped through into the clearing.

The Farmer's Field: part 7 by Jonathan Sanchez

  The farmer's routine continued. He would wake before the sun, eating his breakfast alone. He often finished his coffee on the way to feed the chickens and would leave his cup setting somewhere where he would have to look for it later. After the chickens were fed he would wander over to his little garden. He went down each tiny row pulling the weeds from around the bottoms of the plants, shaking them to loosen the dirt around their roots. Afterwards, he watered the plants with buckets from the creek. As he walked towards the creek, he noticed some of the larger flotsam that marked the edge of the flood. He thought back to that day and chuckled, then sighed. He walked back to the little garden with his buckets heavy with water and fed each one like tenderly like a baby, making sure they still had enough soil to support them. Then when all the weeds were eradicated and the plants thoroughly watered he would plop down in his chair and watch his garden grow.
  When it was time to harvest the vegetables from his small plot, the farmer was glad, but he was also secretly let down. He picked each vegetable carefully, examining it for bugs. As he looked over each piece, he thought they should be bigger, but then remembered how late he had started on this patch. His tomatoes, squash and radishes all seemed like miniature versions of what he thought they should be. It didn't take him long to pick all the vegetables that were in his garden and that bothered him. He knew then that he wouldn't be canning much of his food, if any, and most of his grown groceries could be eaten in a couple weeks. He couldn't help but think of the large field and the amount of food that was wasted with it's destruction.
  He tried putting that thought out of his mind as he sliced one of his newly picked tomatoes. The juice ran out of the slice onto his counter. When he put the slice in his mouth, his eye widened as the flavor of his land erupted on his tongue. It was the best tomato he had ever tasted. He was blown away by the flavor and stood there chewing the slice slowly, savoring every little bit. After swallowing that slice, the farmer put the rest of the small tomato straight into his mouth. The juice ran down his face as he chewed and smiled and he was glad that he had taken the time to grow it. He couldn't wait to taste the others and sat down with his knife to slice and sample each and every kind of vegetable he had.
  The months following his garden's harvest, the farmer's routine had changed. He only went outside when absolutely necessary. He tended his chickens daily, making sure they were fed and watered, and strung up a small light to keep them warm during the cold nights. He would venture out into the forest for firewood to keep himself warm, but he always avoided the area where his field was destroyed. The shorter days made the farmer sleepy earlier than during the summer months, so after doing his meager winter chores, he propped himself before his fireplace with a dogeared copy of some book he had picked up and dozed between chapters.
  While the farmer concentrated on his winter chores, his small garden was neglected. After harvesting what he could, he no longer worried about pulling the weeds, and they had completely taken over his plot. Hay grass had shot up tall and dried out, leaving wispy blades of the grass waving in the breeze. Strange thorny plants with odd alien looking flowers hid among the grass. Birds made nests in the tall grass, and every once in a while, the farmer would notice a rabbit scurry out of the weeds when he had ventured too close.  Seeing all the life in the neglected garden almost made the farmer not want to disturb their habitat by planting a new garden next season, but the memory of the tastes of his labors quelled those thoughts.
  The farmer's constant quest for firewood took him all over the woods around his place. He had a small handcart that could easily be moved through the forest. He tried to put as much wood in it as he could each time he went so he wouldn't have to go out as much, but despite that, he found himself out there hunting wood daily. Towards the end of the winter, he had gathered up all he could from the surrounding forest and finally had to venture in the direction he had been avoiding all winter. The farmer walked toward the path the linemen had cut through the woods, but not too close to where his field had been. The sides of the path were littered with the cut down and broken trees the linemen had cut from their trail, and the farmer had no trouble finding the firewood he needed. After filling his cart, he hurried back to his house without even glancing in the direction of his field.
  The days continued with the farmer feeding his chickens and gathering firewood. He went along the power line's path collecting the good burning dried wood they left behind, but he would always avoid the large spot on the path where his field was planted. He wouldn't even look in it's direction as he foraged through the broken trees, filling his cart. As the days passed, they got warmer and the farmer's need for wood diminished. His woodpile began to grow as he burned less in his fireplace each night and his need to gather it became less as well. Soon he only went out every couple days to get wood, and then only once a week, and he was able to avoid the spot on the power line's path by just following the path away from his field in either direction, gathering what the linemen had cast off in their progress. It was a nice, but strange feeling to be able to benefit from his garden's destruction by gathering so much firewood that was created by the people who destroyed his garden.

The Farmer's Field: part 6 by Jonathan Sanchez

  Days passed and the farmer went about his business in a slump. His activities lacked the joy felt when he usually did them. He could still hear the whine of the chainsaw in the distance as he fed his chickens. The sound seemed more distant now that the linemen continued past his field. In his mind, he could still see the damaged garden with it's withering plants. He imagined one day that his field would look the same as the rest of the power line path through the forest with no indication that anything had ever grown there. These thoughts made his guts hurt and he tried to put them out of his mind despite the incessant buzzing of the chainsaw. He couldn't even bring himself to actually eat the one squash he had picked. It sat on his table in the dark as he went about his day.
  The farmer worked the small patch of ground he had prepared for transplants, keeping the weeds down and the soil loose. He rummaged through his small stock of leftover seeds and found enough to get some plants started. He crawled through the small rows on his knees, gingerly placing each seed into it's dirt cradle row and sprinkling loose dirt over them. He had a hard time keeping the chainsaw sound out of his head. Each time he noticed it, he would try and put his mind in another place. His daydreams were the same as before but only with fewer vegetables this time. Several times as he worked automatically he realized he had been working with his eyes closed, going through the motions in his mind's eye. He looked back over his work and had done a decent enough job without even seeing what he was doing. It made him glad even though the sound of the chainsaw became more noticeable whenever he opened his eyes.
  His work in the small patch never took him as long as his work had in the larger field. Despite tinkering with all the little things he had neglected while working in the field, he had more daylight to burn than before. He would often find himself sitting on a chair staring at his little patch in the sunlight. He would sit and dream, but his dreams were shadows of the dreams he had for his field. The sun coursed through the sky and the farmer only got up when the shadows of the rows reached the crest of the next row. He stood up, put away what tools he had used during the day and went inside his home. The sound of the chainsaw only ceased when he shut his door behind him.
   Each day he would pass by the squash on the table, barely noticing it at all. He sat at the table to eat each night, and couldn't bring himself to look at it. It seemed like a wasted dream to him. After a few weeks, he did begin to notice the small puddle of juice that surrounded the squash like a moat. He looked hard at the vegetable and really began to notice it. The yellow skin had shriveled a bit and gotten much more pale than it had been in the sun. When he tried to pick it up, it was soft and the skin gave under the pressure of his grip. His finger poked right into the flesh of the squash, and he was disgusted. He took the squash to his back door and hurled it out as far away as he could. The farmer watched as the squash splattered on the ground under a small gardenia bush, seeds and pulp spraying gruesomely. He turned away from it and tried to set his mind on his routine and get the memories of the old field out of his head. Only the sound of the chainsaw was his reminder.
   The farmer's plants poked their small leaves through the loose dirt, bright green against the dark soil. The farmer noted their progress mentally as he watered them carefully each day. The plants seemed to shoot out of the soil, reaching for the sky. The farmer worried that these seeds had been planted too late in the season to bear fruit, but he worked the patch diligently each day. He watered them, made sure the weeds were pulled and shored up any of the rows that had washed down from the watering. He sat in his chair, daily, and could almost swear that he could see them grow. After a few weeks of this routine, he could barely hear the chainsaw at all.
  The farmer worked his routine daily, concentrating on his small patch so much that he hardly thought about the hard work and efforts he had put into his field. He had even stopped comparing his new plants to the growth of the others in the field. Only the sound of the chainsaw was his reminder. Upon hearing it, he would close his eyes and concentrate on his daydreams of his small patch until the whining of the saw couldn't be distinguished from the buzzing of the insects and other forest sounds. Then, he would take a deep breath and move on, knowing he was doing the only thing he could. On one day he worked in his small patch without even noticing that the sound of the chainsaw could not be heard at all.

The Farmer's Field: part 5 by Jonathan Sanchez

The morning following the rescue of the chickens, the sun rose in a pink sky. The clouds had moved off during the night, and the farmer had slept like a child, with none of the nightmares that had plagued him recently. He jumped out of the bed ready to attack the day. He even thought twice before making his daily cup of coffee, but it was such a ritual that he did it anyway. He drank it hot as he looked out his window at the steamy morning. The water had crested not far from his shed where he had put the chickens and for that he was grateful. He had nowhere else to put them aside from in the house with him, and if the water had kept rising, he might have had to abandon his own house, too. There were several loose branches and other debris that had drifted up on his land. He would have to clean all that up, but it could wait. He was anxious to get out to his field that morning. His confidence kept growing with each thought of his garden as he got ready to go.
  The farmer left his house and ventured across his wet yard to his shed. When he opened the door, the chickens were huddled together in the corner furthest away from the door. The rooster eyed him, but made no move to attack. He could see that they hadn't waited for him to serve them breakfast. The bag of corn he used to feed them had been knocked over and corn was strewn about like confetti on the floor by the chicken's scratching feet. He closed the door, laughing to himself at the previous day's events. The farmer walked out onto his land, looking for a nice spot to place a small garden to transplant his plants into. He had ventured off his land when he started his first garden in the field so he would have plenty of room and had never imagined growing anywhere else on his land. He also never imagined that the small field would be threatened so far out in the woods.
  He returned to his shed to retrieve some tools to mark out the spot for his new garden. The chickens paid no attention to him as he did. A couple of the hens had found some spots to roost as the others milled around pecking at the corn. The rooster sat stoically staring at the farmer from a high shelf. The farmer got his shovel and rake and left the shed. The place he picked out for the garden was on higher ground than his chicken coop, so he wouldn't have to worry about the creek overtaking it. He dug his shovel in one corner then went on automatic as he began his work, daydreaming once again of the tasty vegetables. Steam rose from the wet grass around him as the sun advanced in the sky. Despite the mugginess, he didn't slow down. He worked with determination, sliding the shovel in the ground and turning the dirt. He had a steady rhythm going when he finally noticed the annoying buzzing sound of the chainsaw. The farmer stopped his work. For a moment , the dread he had felt in his gut had returned. The sound was definitely coming from closer than he had ever heard. The moment he felt that dread, he forced himself to work harder to eliminate that feeling and get his new garden as ready as possible for transplanting.
  He worked all morning to the sound of the chainsaw, which never seemed to cease. The farmer's work became sloppy in his hurry. Large clumps of dirt littered the small plot as the farmer rushed, unlike when he worked the field. He chopped at roots and dug out weeds and when the sun reached it's zenith, the ground looked more like a small garden than it did before it started. It wasn't as nice as his field, but it would serve it's purpose. He went back to his shed and opened the door completely. The chickens scurried about as he replaced his tools, staying out of the way of his steps.  A couple of the hens escaped through the door, but the farmer didn't worry about it. He walked over to the coop which was still surrounded by the flooded creek. He opened the door to the pen and used a rock to prop open the door. The creek was still receding and he knew the chickens would return to their original roost when the water was gone and the sun was setting. He walked back through the water in his already wet boots and headed for the sound of the chainsaw.
  When he got within view of his field, he realized it was worse than he could have imagined. The rain had not deterred the chainsaw one bit. The cleared path through the forest had reached his field and crossed it into the other side. Heavy machinery were either parked or in use directly on his field. A crew of linemen were setting power poles and dragging electrical lines right through his garden. Huge wheel ruts ran through his field where the equipment struggled through the soil he had spent so long loosening.The once lush plants green leaves were turning brown and withering where their stalks were bent or torn. It was like the linemen made no notice of the garden as they gouged their way through the woods in the name of progress. The farmer couldn't even tell where the rows were that he had meticulously carved from the land. There were weeds growing all over in his garden and they seemed to be the only thing flourishing in the destruction. The smell of diesel fuel permeated the air, adding to the nauseous feeling that was overtaking him. The linemen continued in their work seeming to notice the farmer as little as they did his field.
  The farmer could feel his confidence draining. His vision blurred as tears welled up, but he fought them back before the linemen could notice him. He stood on the edge of his field, knowing that any transplant of the damaged plants would not work. He couldn't even tell what plants were what among the trucks and wires and poles that littered his field. He glanced around for something, anything that he could save, but he couldn't find anything he thought would survive the transplant. Dejectedly he turned from his garden and started to leave, but something bright caught his eye. It was a single squash laying on the ground under some browning leaves. The plant it was connected to had been crushed under the wheels of the heavy equipment, but the squash just lay there still connected to the dying vine. The farmer bent down and snatched the squash up, it's vine pulling at the ground as he plucked it. Anger rose in the farmer as he took the only vegetable he could from his field, rescuing it from the destruction of the linemen. The farmer never said a word to the linemen and they never acted like they even noticed he was there. He turned his back on his field and gripping his only squash, he walked back to his own home.

The Farmer's Field: part 4 by Jonathan Sanchez

 The rain was relentless, pouring nonstop for days. The weather matched the farmer's mood. He stayed closed up in his house while the rain beat down on his roof. He deliberately left things where they laid just so he would have something to do while he was stuck in his house. He went through his automatic cleaning, daydreaming as always, but much slower than he was used to doing. He stared for long moments out of his window seeing the puddles grow in the small yard around his house. He imagined his field and the weeds overtaking the plants he so gingerly planted. In his mind he could see the rows in between the plants filling with water and making them into rivers, washing away the dark soil from his plants roots. He could see the plants falling into that river and floating down and out of their beds. He could even see the vegetables withering on their vines and branches as if they weren't getting the water they needed despite  the overabundance. His eyes got misty as he stared out into the yard, his daydreams turned into waking nightmares. He often caught himself staring out the window for several minutes, forgetting momentarily whatever chore he was working on. He would then shake his head to reorient himself and continue his tasks. The whole time he daydreamed, it was like he worried over the rain only, and not the impending disaster that would inevitably run right through his garden. He tried to put that out of his mind to alleviate the dread that went along with it.
  It had been raining several days when the farmer noticed the creek breaching it's bank. The water moved slowly over the edge of it's shore at first, lapping at the grass that grew along the bank. The farmer had never seen the creek overflow, so when he noticed it, he began to watch it, letting his chores go and welcoming the change in events. The creek flowed fast, taking away all the loose forest debris as it raced. The water in the green grass looked out of place as their blades waved in the water and pointed in the direction of the creek's flow. Little by little, the stream widened taking away more and more of the bank. The farmer used trees along the bank as his gauge of the water's ascent. Watching the water rise allowed him to momentarily forget about his garden. He began to worry about other things as he watched the creek rise. His chicken coop was in between the creek and his house and he thought about moving them into a shed closer to the house in case the creek kept rising. The flow of the creek made the farmer think that moving the chickens was inevitable, but when he thought about going out into the rain, he could feel the dread that kept him inside. He kept watch on the creek's advance as he mentally plotted his course to save his chickens.
  The farmer threw on his duster and headed out into the rain. The rain beat a cadence on the hood of his duster as he marched toward the chicken coop. He never even looked in the direction of his garden. His mind was set on moving the chickens to higher ground and getting out of the storm. By the time he reached the pen, the water from the creek had almost reached the edge of the coop. The chickens were drenched and huddled together on one of their perches, staring round eyed at the farmer as he entered. Inside the coop the eggs had begun to pile up and a couple of the hens were nesting on them. During the rain, he never even bothered to collect the eggs and now some of the hens were trying to hatch some. He didn't think much of it as he grabbed some hens and tucked them under his duster. The farmer took them up from the creek closer to his house and put them into his old shed where the tools of his garden were. He merely glanced at the tools that helped him form the rough land into a garden before he went back to get more chickens.
  When he got back to the coop, the creek had become a river and was rushing through the bottom of the chicken coop, swirling around his ankles as he gathered more of the chickens. He grabbed whatever hens were closest to him before turning back to higher ground. The hens on the nests stared back at him in terror, not knowing what was happening, and the lone rooster walked back and forth across his perch, agitated. The farmer made several trips to get the chickens and with each trip, the water got a little deeper. When he went to grab the hens from their nests, they didn't like it at all. They fought him without getting off the nest by pecking at his hands as they got near. The farmer's rough hands could take the pecking without much damage, so he just rounded up the last few hens and took off through the rain. He tossed them down when he got to the shed because they were squirming around worse than the hens from before. He was glad to have all of them in the shed, but he still had to bring the rooster.
  As the farmer neared the coop, the creek had advanced up the bank until the entire coop was surrounded by the water. He splashed through the water and flung open the door to the coop. The rooster stared at him with unabashed animosity. Pacing on his perch, his wet feathers had begun to ruffle. The rooster looked like it was doing some dance as his movement became jerky. The farmer slowly advanced on the rooster through the rising water. The water had risen up past his boots, making his progress difficult. He could feel the water pushing past his boots and had to brace himself from slipping. He kept his eyes on the rooster as it walked back and forth on his perch. Slowly he went to grab the rooster. Without any warning , the rooster flew at him. The rooster's legs shot out in front of him as his wings beat the air. The rooster hit the farmer in the chest, thrashing it's spurs and tearing at the duster he wore. The farmer was caught off guard and fell backwards into the water. The rooster didn't stop his assault, fearing for it's life, and continued tearing at the farmer's chest. Water splashed as the rooster attacked him, disorienting the farmer. He grabbed the rooster with both of his hands, but it's legs still kicked at him. He held the bird away from him and slid one of his hands down and clutched it's legs.  The rooster still fought against him, but it was it's body that jerked instead of the legs that the farmer held firmly. The farmer struggled to get up out of the flowing water, having only one free hand to use. The rooster's jerks began to subside as it must have decided the struggle wasn't worth it. The farmer pushed open the door to the coop and headed up the slope to the shed.
  He tossed the rooster inside with the others without ceremony. The farmer was soaked head to toe. He shivered thinking about how the water flowed around him as the chicken tore at him. His duster had filled with water like a balloon, and he could feel the current start to pull at him. That loss of control coupled with the rooster's attack temporarily filled him with terror. It was that moment that, without thinking, he fought not to save himself so much as to keep himself from just killing the rooster. He went to save the chicken , no matter how hard the rooster made it for him. He came to do his task and nothing could stop him once his mind was set.
  He went into his house and stripped at the doorway so he wouldn't get water everywhere. He dried himself off the best he could, but he felt like he couldn't quite get dry enough. He rubbed himself vigorously with the towel to warm himself as he searched for dry clothes. He felt invigorated despite his shivering, like his confidence was returning. He became determined to redouble his efforts with his garden that he had neglected. He felt like he had to save his plants, like he had saved the chickens from disaster. He began daydreaming again with thoughts of removing the weeds he knew had grown since his last visit. He began to think of the chainsaw and it's path through the forest and wondered if he could possibly move some of the plants. All he had to do was prepare a spit out of the way of the destruction and move what plants he could. It would be difficult work but his determination drove him. He felt unstoppable. He would begin work first thing in the morning whether it was raining or not.

The Farmer's Field: part 3 (fiction) Jonathan Sanchez

  The farmer woke one morning hearing hard rain falling on his roof. He got out of bed rubbing his eyes. He lingered in his little kitchen sipping his coffee listening to the rain fall. He knew he couldn't carry his coffee out to his garden like he usually did, so he cooked his breakfast of eggs and sat down. He knew he wouldn't have to carry the heavy water bucket back and forth from the stream to the garden because of the rain and his back was thankful for it. He also thought about the rain's effects on the weeds that grew up daily. He made a face at the thought, and got up to look for a jacket to wear. He threw on an old duster and stepped out into the rain.
  As he walked to the field, the rain made the hike seem different. The rain obscured his vision but his feet knew where to go. His boots splashed in the puddles along the path to the field. In the distance, even the chickens were subdued this morning, huddled together in their coop. He didn't have to bring the bucket to get water, but he brought it anyway to collect the weeds. By the time he got to the field, his bucket had filled nearly halfway with the falling rain. He dumped it along the edge of the garden before setting it down  to survey his garden.
 The lush green leaves bore the weight of the rain, drooping slightly as the rain cascaded onto the ground. All the little yellow flowers seemed to smile as their faces turned to gaze at the falling rain. Unlike when he used his bucket to water, the whole ground was saturated, the soil dark and rich with the rain. Small rivers laid in the bottom of each row and he walked through them like a giant, his boots splashing with every step. His constant weeding seemed to be working, he didn't find the plethora of weeds he expected with the rain. Every once in a while he would stoop down and slide the weed out of the soft moist ground. The rain created a waterfall rolling from his duster to the ground. Once he completed his circuit through all the rows, he noticed his bucket held very few weeds. He considered dumping them somewhere just outside the garden to pick them up later when it wasn't raining so much. He decided against it since he was already soaked and made his way into the nearby woods.
  He walked a short way in, noticing some of the other clumps of weeds he had dumped before. He kept walking past them. As he walked, his bucket caught the rain turning his bucket of weeds into a muddy slurry. He began to think of the noises he could hear and the one that he could not. The pouring rain beat on his duster and the leaves of the trees around him creating a cadence that made his hike in the woods more rhythmic. All the usual noises of the birds and scurrying forest creatures were obscured by the rain's beat. The one noise he did expect to hear, a noise that had been his companion for several days, he didn't hear. Whoever had been running the chainsaw must have been smart enough to stay out of the rain. The farmer kept hiking anyway until not far from where he dumped his bucket of weeds one time he noticed the path of fallen trees. The cleared area was about forty feet wide and went on like an arrow as far as he could see. His eyes widened as he realized where the cut path was heading. He turned around looking in the direction the path was taking and saw his garden right in the path of the destruction.
  He hurried back to his field, looking back over his shoulder as he did, keeping the cut trees as much in his vision as he could. When he got clear of the trees, he couldn't see the destruction anymore and he was somewhat relieved. He stood at the edge of his garden, dreaming like he usually did, but this time weird visions appeared in his reverie. Pictures of his garden's destruction lanced through his mind and to him it was painful to imagine. Disgusted with his own daydreams, the farmer turned his back to the garden to stop those thoughts. He made his way back to his home, walking more slowly in the rain, never once turning back to look at his dream.
  The next morning when he woke, he could still hear the pattering of the rain as it beat down on his roof. He spent the night restless, fighting horrible dreams that he couldn't quite remember once he woke up, but left him with a feeling of dread that he couldn't shake. He sat in his small kitchen listening to the rain while he drank his coffee. He couldn't bring himself to go outside in the rain with the thoughts of the destruction in the forest so close to his garden. Every time he thought of it, it caused him a physical pain in his gut to imagine his garden destroyed. He finished his coffee, which had gotten cold by then, and he got up and went back to his bed. He tried to use his covers as a defense against the horrors of his world and he slipped into a deep sleep without realizing.
   He slept later than he had ever done since he was a child. The sun was up in the sky but obscured by clouds, making the day look gloomy and drab. He laid in bed staring at the ceiling for a while before he got out of bed. He couldn't shake the bad feeling he had. He knew that he wouldn't have to water his garden again, and he thought the weeds wouldn't grow too much if he neglected a day. He had collected way more before when he cleaned out his field and wasn't going to worry over a few handfuls. He felt he had other things to worry about with the coming chainsaw and the path out carved out of the forest.
  He spent the day puttering around in his house. He walked around trying to find things to do and surprisingly he found a lot. It was like he didn't live in his house, only sleep there after his long days in the field. There was plenty to do so he went to it as the rain beat down on the roof, going on full automatic mode for his role as a housekeeper. He cleaned and picked up things that he left lying around. He kept it up until what little light left in the cloudy sky vanished. The farmer stared out the dark window in the direction of his doomed field and it left him with that feeling of dread that hurt him physically in his gut. He turned from the window and headed to bed, worried about the dreams that would come.

The Farmer's Field Pt. II (fiction) Jonathan Sanchez

  The farmer got up every morning early to water and weed his field. He carried his coffee to the field, sipping and enjoying the quiet of nature. He carried water in buckets from the nearby stream and gingerly watered the sprouts poking up through the soil, careful not to add too much and wash away the small seedlings. The sun dried soil drank the water thirstily, and the farmer imagined the seedlings being enveloped in the moisture, soaking up what goodness it could from the ground. As he progressed down the rows, he would reach down and pluck any errant weeds that had sprung up since he last plowed the ground. He piled the weeds in small piles along the rows to scoop up later. The important part was to remove the roots that steal the precious nutrients from his young plants. In essence, it was like the weeds were thieves, robbing him of food for his table. After making his rounds with his water bucket, he used the bucket to pick up the weeds, walking back through the rows talking nicely to his plants. He didn't know if it helped his plants, but he thought it couldn't hurt. He took the weeds off the field and into the woods, dumping it unceremoniously in a low spot on the ground before he returned to his field.

  Every morning, this routine played out. He witnessed the young seedlings growing each day and felt proud. Looking out over his field, he could see less and less of the dark soil. It was slowly being masked by the ever growing seedlings, becoming more and more green everyday. Standing in his field, he felt energized, like he got more energy from working in his garden than from the coffee he drank every morning on his way to the field. He didn't regret any of the decisions he made that led him to work this field, and smiled knowing he was doing something good. He turned around to head back to his home and in the distance he heard a chainsaw in the woods nearby. The sound was faint and the farmer paid it no mind, still daydreaming of the fresh vegetables he would soon be eating.

  The routine continued with the watering, weeding and daydreaming everyday. Everyday the garden grew, making the farmer's daydreams come to life. The only difference was the break in the silence caused by the chainsaw sounds in the distance. Despite the added noise, the farmer didn't let it bother him, continuing with his routine. He finished his tasks as normal, but when he went to dump the bucket of weeds, he walked farther into the woods in the direction of the chainsaw noise. He walked through the woods, feeling uneasy by the contradiction of the solitude and peacefulness of the forest and the tearing angry sound of the chainsaw. As he walked, the sounds got louder, but he could not see anyone through the thick forest. He looked over his shoulder in the direction of his own field. He couldn't see his garden through the trees, either, and that made him uneasy. He looked back and forth, between looking in the directions of the chainsaw noise and his garden. Without putting much more thought into this quandary, he dumped his weed bucket and headed back to the field.

  The routine began to change slightly as the crops took hold. He brought extra water to saturate the ground around his small plants, trying to give the growing roots as much as they could drink. The weeds became tenacious, growing back with a vengeance from the smallest pieces of roots left behind from his plucking. The garden wasn't being overtaken by the weeds, but they shot up like several inches overnight sometimes. He supposed it was the extra water mixing with his natural fertilizer making the ground so rich. Another change he barely noticed after a while was the incessant noise of the chainsaw in the distance. He figured someone was cutting trees on one of the tree farms that surrounded his place in the woods. At first it was annoying as a curious bee, breaking his concentration and making his usual daydreaming hard to do. After several days, it was part of the background noise, and he was able to continue his work, diligently while daydreaming. He still carried the bucket of weeds into the woods to dump, and each day the noise of the chainsaw seemed closer. He still paid it little mind, dreaming of the mouth-watering vegetables that would soon grace his table.

  After a few weeks the farmer began to notice the small yellow flowers decorating the tomato plants. He squatted down and stared at them. Here and there, all over the little bushes, the little yellow flowers stared back at him in small clumps like grapes. There were several more flowers beginning to bud, and the farmer knew each one held the potential to be a tomato, a tomato that he would eat and make part of himself. He slowly got up, still staring at the tiny flowers and began walking along his rows. There was ample supply of potential growing among the green vines of the squash plants. The buds hadn't opened on them, but they had grown quite a bit overnight and seemed ready to pop open at any moment. The corn seemed to shoot up every night while he wasn't looking, every day it was bigger than before. Now the beginnings of the tassels could be seen poking out of the unfurling leaves. The farmer had gotten no farther watering his plants than the tomatoes. Once he saw the first flower, he marveled at his garden's growth. Once he had examined every plant closely for signs of flowering, he went back to his routine tasks, giving his plants extra water for their new flowers. He didn't even mind the weeding so much. It allowed him to squat down more often to get a closer look at his plants. After watering his field, the soil looked dark against the lush green plants. The rows were free of the stubborn weeds. He stood back from his garden and saw all the specks of yellow dotting the greenery and smiled. He was so lost in his daydream as he went to dump his bucket that he didn't notice the buzzing of the chainsaw at all this day.

For The Night (poetry) by Cory Swygert
for all the yesterdays,
of brilliant brunette skies.
do it for the night.
for the mantras 
of the songbird at dimmest of day.
do it for the night.
for the burnished moon  
with calming light
and for the company she keeps
with the man 
in pale blue.
do it for the night.
for the tic-tac-toe 
of the celestial starry glow.
do it for the night.
for the bug of which it's tail does show.
do it for the night.
for the pondering that eyes and mind of past 
did share.
do it for the night.
for wayward sons and daughters,
who have bathed by street lamps side.
do it for the night.
for the winds evening play.
for the cats peering face.
do it for the night.
for the beauty of your dreams, of which
night brings.
do it for the night.

the song.
the poem.
the painting.
the kindly thought.

if only this once,
for these things and more.

I do,
for this is
the treasure of my escape.

and so plead, 

do it.
for the night.

The Farmer's Field (part I) fiction by Jon Sanchez

  The dirt felt cool in his hands despite the heat of the sun bearing down on his back. He crumbled it in his fingers, letting it fall back to the Earth. Wiping his brow with his forearm, he bent back to the plow, keeping his eyes focused in the distance to keep the row straight. His dreams got bigger and bigger with each turn of the soil. First feeding his family, then the community, and then the world. It didn't really seem that hard, and with each push of the plow, he got a little closer. He thought of all the vegetables that he didn't like as a kid, and how they seemed to taste better when he grew them himself. He could see the rows of corn waving their tassels at the sun before they were even planted. He envisioned the dark green leaves of the squash plant hid their surprises in it's own shade. He looked across his empty field, but instead he saw it green and covered in life.
  The crisp spring air helped motivate the farmer's steps, urging him onward to keep from cooling off. He had spent the morning pulling weeds that had taken hold since he last worked the field. He reached down into the soil, grabbing the weeds by the roots to prevent their recurrence. Once free, he shook the roots to free any clinging dirt and replace it where it belonged in the garden. The job seemed overwhelming when he first plunged his hands into the soil, but once he started, he became a machine. His thoughts wandered as his body went on automatic, ripping the weeds free and tossing them into piles he would compost later. He worked, lost in his thoughts for hours without realizing it. Sweat rolled off his bent back, making mud trails in the dust. When he looked up, he realized there was more clear field behind him than in front of him and this task was nearly complete. A look down at his shadow told him that his stomach's guess at the time was correct when it rumbled. He resumed his automatic weeding, determined to finish before before he took a break. Soon he forgot about eating altogether and finished pulling the last of the weeds.
  He knew what had to be done and he knew what tools he had to do it with. It might not have been the tools preferred by most, but he was always taught to work with what you have been provided with. He stood looking at his little field. With only a shovel, rake, a hoe, and a small plow he would reinvent a piece of the Earth. Thoughts of walking through the rows of lush plants, smelling the greenness of it all filled his heart with pride. He took his weather-worn shovel in his calloused hands and plunged it into the corner of his field. He pushed the shovel deeper into the ground with his boot, until the entire spade was buried in the soil. He bent and pulled up the shovelful of rich black dirt and turned it over back into the hole it came out of.  He sunk the shovel back into the dirt next to the spot where he did it first and repeated himself, loosening the soil in preparation for the planting. He slowly worked his way around the field, turning the soil in it's place. In different spots he would think about what to put where, and would he have enough room to plant all that he wanted. Every once in a while his shovel would hit something deep in the ground, making a small dinging noise. He would drop down on his knees and gently brush back the loosened soil, usually exposing some rock that he would remove from the field. Sometimes he would unearth a loose shard of native pottery or an arrowhead that he would slip into his pants pocket. When he found one of these, he would imagine natives from hundreds of years ago farming and making a life in the same spot he chose. These thoughts strengthened his belief that he had picked the right place to grow food.
  In his mind, he had pictures of what the field looked like before he started and it had drastically changed from what it had started from. He,too, looked different than when he had started. He was no longer the clean man who rolled out of his bed in the morning. He no longer wore the clean pants he put on before he stepped out to his field. He was covered from head to toe in a fine layer of dust only broken by the trails his sweat had taken as it coursed down his body. His pants put off a cloud of dust with each step. His boots produced little puffs as he walked. He smelled like a beast. His eyes stung with sweat. His hands bore the scratches of thousands of unseen briers hidden among the pulled weeds. The scratches didn't bleed anymore with all the dirt caked into them, but they stung. He didn't notice any of these things. He didn't notice the stings of the scratches. He was unaware of his odors. The dust coming from his shoes and clothes meant nothing to him. It was like he was becoming a part of the field and it made him smile.
  He worked the plow like an animal, quickly falling into a rhythm. The dirt would cascade off the plow blade, rolling back into the field. The farmer dug his furrows as straight as an arrow, cutting long lines into the soil from one side of the field to the other. It was how his father taught him to do it, and his father's father had taught him. He thought about all the natives that once planted this same field before and wondered if their fathers had played a similar role in it's development through the centuries. He occasionally bent down to snatch a small weed or a rock he may have missed, but the plow never slowed down until he was finished. Surveying his field, it was striped like a zebra with the setting sun casting shadows in the long furrows. His body ached from the constant motion of the plow. He felt every row he dug in his back muscles, but he didn't worry about it. The only thing other than sleep on his mind was the next task in preparation of his dreams.
  He rose early the next morning. Drinking his warm coffee outside, watching the steam rise in wisps. The morning dew glistened on the grass surrounding the field and a light fog seemed to accentuate the colors as it hugged the ground. Everything looked a little brighter despite the low light of the rising sun. The furrows seemed to put off a steam of their own, and the farmer imagined the spirits of the natives giving his field a blessing of sorts. Not far off , a rooster crowed, signalling the morning, and stirring other chickens from their roosts. The farmer took his time, stretching out the achy muscles from the day before on his way to the chicken coop. Some buckets and his old shovel waited for him by the door to the chicken coop. The farmer entered the coop through the door and tossed some cracked corn into one of the corners. The sleepy chickens quickly shook off their fatigue and scurried to the corn, fearful to miss out on any feed. Only the rooster stood aside from them, eyeing the farmer warily. The farmer then took his shovel and started scooping up the nitrogen rich dung from the ground and dumping it into the buckets. The dung smelled strong, but the farmer didn't notice the smell as a bad one. To him, the smell meant growth, and he again began imagining the lushness of the plants he could grow with it. Before long he had filled up what buckets he had and took them out of the coop. He carried the buckets twp at a time to his field, and had to make several trips. Even though each bucket held the same amount, they felt a little heavier with each trip. He took his shovel and mixed the contents of each bucket, loosening the large clumps until it was more easy to spread. He grabbed the handle of one after they were mixed and walked to the first row cut into the field. He carefully shook the bucket depositing a line of the fresh natural fertilizer into the deep furrows that he had plowed. The fertilizer looked only a little darker than the dirt it laid in. Once all the rows had been fertilized evenly, be gripped his plow and began covering up the furrows. He worked the soil into long straight mounds, burying the fertilizer directly beneath them. His muscles loosened up as he pushed the plow across the field. The soil was well loosened by this time from all his digging and previous plowing, making the job seem easier than it had ever been. He kicked off his boots to feel the soft dirt between his toes. As he plowed, he began daydreaming as he does of the garden and all the vegetables each row could hold. The time slipped by as he finished up mounding the rows. He parked his plow near where he finished and grabbed his rake. Like an artist with his paintbrush, he leveled off the tops of each mound making a nice flat surface in which to plant his dreams.The sun was cresting over the trees in the distance when he finished up and leaned his rake on his plow. The farmer looked back over his field and saw a real thing taking shape, and not just in his imagination.

1 comment:

  1. Jon Sanchez is a very amazing writer!!! Is he published?? And if No, why not???