Fiction: Country

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

July 21, 2011


Categories: Family, Food, One a Day

Manhattan Beach

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Veronica was taking a three day holiday. Her week was quite busy, and she needed some refresh time. She took the train to Gales Creek. It’d been 12 years since the high speed rail integrated the small towns. She was going to visit her parents. As was custom, she stopped at the Gales Creek Grocer before making the mile walk to her parents hobby farm.

Dingle-ing! The corner bell rang loudly, announcing her presence in the tiny shop. She took the place in. It had stayed the same for years. Patty glanced up and smiled at the familiar face. Veronica smiled back. Aside from “hello”, no words were exchanged. None were needed. Veronica loaded her woven basket with various sundries that she assumed her parents could use and she would consume during the weekend. She ran her fingers along the dusty shelves and just enjoyed the quiet time with this familiar space.

Along the walk to her parents hobby farm, she picked at the lazy Susans, daisies, and cow parsnips. She tossed them in her basket as she waved her hands over the grass, took in the sun, and walked along the dusty gravel road. She hadn’t told her parents that she was coming, so she wasn’t surprised to see her father on the tractor, plowing the plot that held winter vegetables readying it for fall. Her mother was weeding the tomatoes. She waved to them as she took in the rest of the surroundings. A large pile of garlic to be clipped and woven was on the porch.Various baskets of salad greens and snap peas were waiting to be stored, leftovers from the market.

Veronica weaved around the barn cats as she entered the house. She set her basket on the table and went to examine the pantry. She grabbed an empty mason jar, two quarts of canned tomatoes, and a pint of pickled asparagus. Running water over the the mason jar and wetting the flowers, she made a mental note of the pasta she would construct for dinner. She grabbed an apron as she walked back to the pantry for the gallon of whole wheat flour, honey, oil and salt. Setting those on the counter, she returned to the cupboard for a bowl. She instinctively drew enough water, sprinkling the tepid liquid with yeast. Dissolving it with the honey she let it rest while she surveyed the ingredients.

“Hi, honey,” said her mom as she gave Veronica a chaste peck on her cheek. “What brings you away from the city?”

“You know, work.”

“Hmm,” replied her mother as she surveyed the kitchen. Veronica had a red sauce simmering on the stove and a loaf of bread proofing. Her mother had brought in some fresh salad greens from the garden, so she rinsed off the dirt and threw in a few more vegetables to round out the salad. Soon, her father came in and opened a bottle of wine.

Over their pasta dinner, Veronica and her parents reminisced over simpler times. they pondered memories when people didn’t have to ration their gas and mileage. They talked about some of the changes in laws, like when politicians started fining for taking on mobile devices. They tracked the pattern of control of electronic devices invented to help. Veronica’s father always reminded her that humans have always fought against the social contract. He’s surprised, always, at how little society heeds Rousseau‘s specialist warnings. The link is clear, to her father, that the more specialized we are, combined with the continuous breakdown of community that society would turn to fear as a guidance instead of trust and healthy bonds.

Chats with her parents always refreshed her. Chats with her parents reminded Veronica why healing through art was so important. She had an ambitious goal of empowerment through art education, and it was just really taking off at a statewide, national, and subsequently global level. Veronica was terrified her baby would crash. But, whenever she went home from visiting her parents, she was able to deal with the fear healthfully in order to keep plugging away at her goals.

Later, that evening, Veronica found herself in the hometown bar. She wasn’t sleepy, and she enjoyed the atmosphere. The tavern hosted a local band every weekend. She sat, sipping her Manhattan, laden with Drambuie but no Maraschino cherries as those were outlawed with the food law changes. She closed her eyes as the Dobro twanged in harmony with the steal guitar. She loved the simple rhythms of country music. She was glad this folksy side to life was one of the few things that hadn’t changed. She was glad to be home. She was glad to be reminded of this community that lived simply. She cherished their struggles and tried to focus their drive internally so she could get her project off the ground. At least, now, she had an architect.

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