Bending over, I felt the muscles pull up the back of my leg extending my hamstring, as I reached for stick after stick. It seemed that I could collect these escapees all day and still never see the task completed. The wind was my competitor, blowing the trees till they lost their grip and let go of the weak branches and limbs, which then fell to lie upon the green spring grass. Arms full, I headed to the fire pit. My gatherings would make good kindling for a future bonfire. My son and his girlfriend came to mind, and I found myself reassuring them in my head that it was still too windy and way to wet to have a fire. They still had time to make it home. I guess I always feel his longing for this place – home. And I guess I always have that longing for him – here with me. So on many occasions, I find myself dialoging in my head with him. As my foot presses down, I see the muddy water rise around it just to the top of the rubber, and I breathe a sigh of relief at the sparing of the suede, I say to him, “Man, it is so wet. Just plain soggy. You have no idea!” And he doesn’t. His country life is no more. No more about mud and green grass, or tilled dark fields stretching out like brownies waiting to be plucked from the pan. No more about blue skies touching down onto golden wheat, or sunsets that burn like lava. No, his life is now about concrete and asphalt and glimpses of azure between bricks and glass. Living in an apartment complex and working in a restaurant, his yard is a balcony outside a sliding glass door, and his view is buildings and little black children gathering and socializing in the parking lot. There’s also the cement pond, as the Beverly Hillbillies would call it, but I don’t think he swims there much. I think some day, he’ll find his way back here, or someplace like this. He loves the country, but he likes his life, he says, and loves his friends, his girlfriend. He is still pondering just what he wants to do or be. He’s only 22. Time is on his side. It took me twice that long to figure it all out. And it wasn’t that long ago that I would have traded for the city life. I’ve since realized the treasure in all that surrounds me – beautiful nature. So I’ll hold down the fort while he is exploring, and when he needs a reprieve from the search, the door will be open, the fire will be lit, and we will gather ‘round and celebrate – life.