The Glimmer of the Sun
Finding the balance of hope and despair
He looked out his window into the gloom of the morning mist. Staring back at him was a haggard face without shape or form. His mind wandered into that face through the dull, dim eyes. So much time had passed before them. Life twisted and turned and left nothing but a pretzel of a man in its wake. He forced himself to think about something other than himself as he swung his legs out of the bed and onto the cold floor. The old wood tongue’n’groove floor creaked and groaned echoing the sound of his own tired joints. Looking through the other window on the far side of the room he saw the beginnings of a dawn and thought to himself how sweet the sun can be. At the moment it just looked like a glow, a familiar character in a painfully familiar story. Moving towards the sun window he noticed something out of the corner of his eye, a glimmer on the front lawn.
Stumbling into his overalls and flannel he made his way down the stairs and into the parlor overlooking the lawn. His eye caught the glimmer again but it seemed to come right out of the ground. A reflection from the sun? A light from the barn? He swore he’d put the lamp out last night but now was starting to wonder. Old man Parker’s barn went up two winters ago because of a mindless accident like that. He couldn’t afford such. Glancing around the cool parlor he was reminded how cold and old he felt. He drug his heavy feet down the hall and into the kitchen to boil the last of the coffee he’d gotten from the general store last year from a special shipment from the east. His usual weak blend wouldn’t cut it this morning. It was a special day.
As he waited for the coffee he thumbed through an old catalog Edith used to order from here and there.
I don’t know why bother keeping this thing around. No good in it ‘tall. Just a mess o’ city-folk get-up that fit in around the farm like a wet sheep on shearin’ day. Edith didn’t know no better but the label itself gives it away, “Sears and Roebuck, For all your home’s needs.” Anyone with sense would know them ain’t needs in there. Just a bunch of reasons to spend money, waste time and do a lot of talk and fantasizin’.
That word came out with a bite unusual to his frail jaw. He quickly laid it on the far side of the kitchen table, skipping the whole doing-away-with-it bit from before. He knew what it’s worth to him was, and he knew it would never leave that spot on the kitchen table. He squared off with it like a bull does with ornery goats who’ve wandered too far.
Yawning, he stood and grabbed the coffee pot and pored just enough to fill his cup but not too much so as to slosh. His eyes lit up as the smell hit his nose like the scent of quail to a dog.
That smells downright deeevine, he told the pot.
The pot seemed to respond with a little wink as it glimmered in the sun that had now breached the level of the kitchen window.
Looking up he saw the sun clearly for the first time that morning. The steam from the coffee made it a time worth framing, at least he thought so anyway. Maybe those Sears and Roebuck folks wouldn’t but heck, they don’t even know what the sun looks like from their concrete world. How in the world could they think they had a right to tell him what he needed in his life? That dang magazine was an affront to his character. If it weren’t for Edith… his thoughts trailed off as he saw the magazine on the table, stopped, drank his coffee in a big hot gulp, and thought, silently keeping himself company.
Thinking wasn’t his job on the farm; he was raised on a farm, worked on a farm and would die on a farm — this farm — but his thoughts had been all he’d had to keep him company these three years Edith had been gone. She was everything to him. Without children they had lived life for each other only. The only intrusion to their life was old man Parker’s barn, a few trips to the general store from time to time, and a barn raising for he couldn’t remember who.
Before Edith passed she’d asked him why they didn’t do more in life. The thought just reached out and smacked him.
I don’t know, I guess I thought what we had was enough, darlin’.
The sun had shone on her face as she slipped off into sleep, the deep sleep that had taken his family years ago when this farm had become his own.
At this he took another gulp and looked up from the table to see the sun a little higher in the sky. It shone on his face and pushed all thoughts of the past from his mind and back where they belonged. He sat and waited because in a few minutes it would come through the pear tree right over the south side of the barn. He waited for it. He thought and sipped a few more times until finally as the sun peeped over the tree, a faint smile crept across his cracked, dried lips.
He saw the sun and forgot about himself, he forgot about Edith, he forgot about life itself. All he could do was sit and smile at its power, warmth, radiance. He pulled his boots on, buttoned his flannel and zipped his overalls. Then he methodically opened the door and slowly stepped out onto the back porch. He gazed into the sun as he neared the rail of the wraparound porch, almost forgetting to stop. The barn stood like a beacon against the frost, and the pear tree rustled its leafless branches in the morning breeze.
Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimmer. It was the same he saw from upstairs. He hurried over to it to see that he’d been right, just a puddle of frozen dew reflecting the light of the sun. From here the sun looked brilliant. He closed his eyes and took it in. When he opened them he felt something looking down at him. He quickly looked up and saw a shadow in the window. He thought he’d imagined himself looking down at the glimmer that had started the whole morning. Turning back to the sun he just stopped and stared. That view confirmed his choice of coffee. It was a special day indeed.