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* A D O B E * B R I C K S *



* An Essentialist Short Story *


This short story is now adapted to a basic "Folk Opera" form. You will find a link to Adobe Bricks Folk Opera following the story text.






by Betty Curtis - © 1988 - 2002



To The Reader

"Adobe Bricks" has been previously published in an internationally circulated Newsletter, under the name Jean Curtis. This Newsletter was circulated in a small limited mailing, the first copyrighted form November 1988.

The writing style I call Essentialist only means that the story is told via the essence of the story rather than in elaborate detail. Some readers have commented that it is a strongly evocative form, evoking the readers' own imagination. In this story, the form is Journal form. Punctuation is not always standard; at times it is used to suggest notes jotted down, hurriedly, on the move.

The total number of entries are 40. This will print out to (15 pages?) I hope you enjoy reading about the "journey" of a group of homeless young people, who find their way to a new home, and new meaning to their lives.











(1)

It rained all night in slow reluctant drops. Sandy's smile was limp, but she tried. Warren insisted his red socks sparked, but nobody noticed. We lay on the cots and listened to rain washing the last of autumn's leaves into wet piles of soggy carpet. Tomorrow the trees would still stand, gaunt and plucked, offering winter a stoic indifference. Jill put water for tea on a dark hulk of stove. Faint emberglow touched our cold skin and sank into eyeball and brain. Later, we all slept and woke and turned and sighed - like the leaves falling onto dark earth - finally settling into soft, dim breathing pulsing sinking silence floating through the night.



(2)

I splashed water on my face and looked in the cracked mirror - trying to find a name for what I saw. No answer. I looked down, spelled by leaky trickle and brown rust on porcelain. My hand hurt from trying to stop it. What did it matter - the name ? Whatever it was called, it was. Rick's voice had an edge still rough from waking. I hear - I hear I thought. We rolled up our sleeping bags and walked out the door in a line, like turtles bound for the sea..." the last night under this roof"... riccocheted around us. Soon submerged in raw wind and morning traffic fading into the day.



(3)

The park was still green in places. More and more burnt umber and grey. The benches still damp. Only shuffling vagrants wandering away into the day. Jill's question about jobs caused snickering ripples - but Rick and Warren uncertainly launched themselves into street-tide and flowed away. Jill, Sandy, and I applied in a dingy office for maid work but "no address ?!" closed the door. When sun surrendered to a haze of clouds and drizzle we all straggled to the park. Rick stood staring numbly at me. "Feel like an adobe brick dissolving in rain". I kissed him. "Rick the brick." I said. We laughed. All piled together under a leafy bush big enough to hide us and gave up to cold hungry sleep sliced by now and then sirens.


(4)

Sandy elbowed me awake. The sun was ripe in my eyes. Rick was smiling. He looked taller. "I't's cleaning a Thrift Shop at night", he said. "They have sweaters and coats and 10 dollars a day...I bought sandwiches." They were already half gone. It was good beef and cheese. The world did a flip-flop and revived into living people. We were still damp from the long night of soaking. Every vertebra protested. But a slanted dazzle had descended from somewhere. That night the stars seemed so near they even pierced our bush-tent with clear sleep and a faraway music of hope.


(5)

We passed the winter in novacaine of cold. All of us cleaned the Thrift Shop at night. It was a roof and walls against cold wind and snow. We collected sweaters and coats in a neat pile for a smiling old lady with braided grey hair who nodded benefic bestowal - and moved through the door into weak sunlight and city busyness. Sandwiches clutched in hand we gravitated through stone, steel, and concrete to our park nest. Like squirrels nibbling at stashed sustenance we savored our moment and each other. At night I felt a new warmth emanating from Rick's body near me and decided we all had an inner portable wealth without name.


(6)

Spring met long resistance. Front after front of implacable cold marched across the land and fell in shredded flakes on the city. The park was white and icy two weeks past equinox. We were stored in our bones - marble pillars holding together wndwracked walls of flesh. Endurance became confirmed in us. It seemed we were camped stoics - the white trees of the park grecian pillars from long ago. The Thrift Shop was a cold but dry refuge at night. Cleaning kept blood flowing in small embers of red fire. There was no Spring. Summer arrived suddenly after one fierce thunderstorm broke winter's hammerlock and thawed us so swiftly we almost regretted the loss of anesthetic cold and the protective numb frozen armor of the stoic we'd worn.


(7)

Why are the cops around Warren ?! I can't believe this ! ..."just a warning this time...against the law...swimming in the fountain..." Warren grinned and strolled over to me. His movement clearly conveyed innocence and obedience. The horses walked on slowly down the park path - crowned by dark uniforms and something that flashed sunlight when it moved. Rick was just waking up, and came toward us with questions on his face. " I wasn't swimming." - Warren said - "I was bathing." We laughed at such misunderstanding and migrated slowly into the day.


(8)

Rick silhouetted against blinking neon had the appearance of a time-warped warrior from the future caught in laser crossfire. It was so unreal. We had become stumbling druggy stupor roaming desert canyons of the city in suffocating heat. Others melted on nearby low steps- running down the stairs and onto the sidewalk like sticky candy. At night so many in a fever of thirst for one thing or another it was no longer safe in the park. Our leafy hideout had been confiscated by two fierce-tempered bearded refugees of an uncertain time whose only song was survival by force and jungle growling. The city had no cool quiet coves.


(9)

The man's eyes were compassionate. There was an understanding fire somewhere in there. The words came like cool water suddenly flowing from volcanic rifts......"You can renovate it yourselves...donated supplies...a shelter to share...help each other..." Ten of us listened and wondered if it were true or just another mirage of the mind - pipedream of some overzealous unanchored idealist. Two slid off down the street. Eight of us followed in wait-and-see reserve careful to put hope on hold.


(10)

I could feel the ray penetrating my skin. The sun was pulsing out there throwing charge after charge of solar light and heat onto buildings and sidewalks. The city seemed to swell and murmur sliggish with great heat and congestion. We moved trancelike through the door into dusky depth of the creaking old gymnasium. We had work to do - a place to stay - each other - and tomorrow. Eyes made a slow adjustment and ageing details of the dusty abandoned building came into focus. One more from the group dropped out and left. Tired walls. Rough rotting floors. Dust-caked half-broken windows. A rat scurried across the floor. "It'll be a challenge - said Warren. "It's a promise" - Rick suggested. Sandy wailed. Jill sank on the floor in eloquent silence. It's a home - " I offered.


(11)

"Scooter" . . .what a crazy name. It sounded like something out of :"Happy Days". Did people ever really live like that ? The red-haired crinkle-eyed tall column of bone and flesh had a whimisical smile. "I got it in the tenements. . . it's a put-down. . ." he said and the crinkles spread . . . "didn't like all the hassle and hustle . . . when things rumbled I scooted. . ." Warren was painting around the windows. The new glass let in just the right light to wash the gym in mellow sundown. We femmes were setting up cots. Rick hammered a kitchen into identity. Scooter was sanding the floor in the last unfinished corner where a long board table would go. Nobody worked any harder than Scooter that summer. Not even Rick. " They always thought I was afraid. . .I just didn't like that way. . ." Something we all understood.



(12)

The old man couldn't work. He looked as if the only life left in him had retreated to his eyes. They shone like pale winter moons in a grey face. Grey skin - grey beard - grey eyes. He volunteered to cook reciting a resume of credentials fine enough for a Waldorf chef. Later it began to rain. Rick, Scooter, and Warren polished the floors to a bronze mirror. Sandy, Jill, and I stitched curtains. The old man retired to his cot with a gigantic hunk of cardboard from somewhere and bent over it a long time. That evening he hung an immense squash-yellow smiling-sun on the wall behind the board table. We had hot soup and cornbread.



(13)

More and more people came. Cots lined every wall. Some were belligerent red-eyed. They soon left - no drugs - no booze - no willing women. People like that can't believe that in our group we accept each other as brothers and sisters. There is no sex activity among us. From different routes of the street, with different reasons for being there, we have gravitated together by an affinity of attitude. We are a family of choice. Some people snicker and sneer. Predators knowing loyalty to none. Someone gave the old man a pathetic guitar with dangling strings. He fixed it. "No use" we said - " none of us know how to play it". He smiled as if we were children who had to be taught. "It means a musician will come" - he said. I like the old man. He's a lot smarter than he looks. Sometimes stars can be seen through the skylight when it's dark in here and outside too. Other times - it's cluttered - like the gym was about to boil over . . .



(14)

Mornings were shivery when the man with nice eyes and understanding insides came again. An old bathhouse at the beach just south of here could be redone. He asked us to take it on. We had long talks about our new beach home. Three days later he was back. Residents nearby had protested. The deal was off. The bathhouse would be torn down. The old man was right though. One night a musician walked in. He played in pattern chords and sang with a sad twang, but we had music. I like the musician. He has soft cocoa eyes and manners and speech you don't often find on the street. I think he feels and thinks like us.



(15)

The gym has become a roil of crosscurrents. Flight from coming cold aimed some for the sun-belt. Others intrude now who complain and try to command. Too often we huddle defensively in our corner. Social workers are involved elsewhere, I guess. There's a lot more for them to do. I guess they assume we are self-governing by now. Or that all that needs done has been done. We wonder how long before the law moves in. The old man has been sick. Jill cooks and Sandy and I clean. Rick and Warren have returned to the Thrift Shop. This shelter with no future is a dead end. There's at least a feeling of earning something at the Thrift Shop. Afraid to stay here at night we go with them. We all feel safer there.



(16)

It's quiet here for a change. Others are out looking for work that someone with no address can get. I felt too ill to go. The gym feels like a troubled Mother wondering why her children have forgotten and strayed. I sit under the skylight to feel the sunlight and try to explain it isn't her fault. The floors are scuffed and littered. The bronze shine gone. Sandy and I can't keep up anymore. We're too tired and it doesn't stay clean long anyway. Trying to enforce order is prison surveillance - something without end. It's back to the Thrift Shop and sandwiches. Yesterday they took the old man to the hospital. We went to visit him last night. Today - he was gone - gone - gone. We couldn't find out where. Rick has gone to check the city's morgue. He had no people but us I guess.



(17)

The old man was buried by the state. We had no way to get to the place - it's outside the city. Rick and Warren talk of going somewhere else. No sun-belt - too many go there. We might go to farm country. It's raining cold autumn rain again. Rick says there are probably farmers on hard times who could use some help. We would work for a safe place to sleep and some food. Even some farm Mothers might need help with children and chores. The rain is monotonous like our days have become. I mix time all up. It's not anything clear anymore - just a thing that stretches and ripples like worn elastic. I don't see an end - but then I no longer expect one. The rain makes you sleepy like wanting a long long sleep. Now and then clouds part and a sun-ray slips through the skylight. The question is - would farmers trust us ? There's no way to know but to try. Distrust is common now. But you can't really blame people today. Sad assessment of the times.



(18)

We got more coats from the Thrift Shop. The old ones were stolen. No sleeping bags though. Ours are coming apart but still some comfort. We had enough cash for cheese - bread - and juice in cardboard containers. Mario the musician came with us. Scooter said leave word at the town store wherever we stopped and he would find us. He knew the route we planned. He wants to try to find an old friend on the coast. It's good to see open country again.. I love the smell of turned soil and wood smoke from chimneys. We planned our route to go by where the old man was buried. The ground was bare with a crust of new frost. We left the smiling sun for him and offered our thanks. We're so empty there's not much to give. Mario played and we sang Auld Lang Syne for him. Rick left an old medal on a ribbon he had found at the Thrift Shop. I don't know what it meant when it was made - but I know what it meant when we left it. Somewhere I think he knew. I feel he understood. When we left - sunlight had scattered overcast at last.



(19)

We walk all day and sleep in the fields at night. We don't hurry. There's no need. Sandy and Mario have learned to harmonize. I don't know many of the songs they sing. Mario says they're folk songs from all over. Yesterday we were in country open enough to see the sun pop over the horizon. Some of our group had never seen that. Only dim city sunrise. Rick said some people in the city probably think the sun rises with the elevator light. Joking, of course ! Something about our outer poverty has sharpened our sense of exquisite small things and majestic things like the sun rising. Our Earth turns constanly like a restless sleeper and we are carried along. What's lost to us now is pattern and mediocrity. Sandy and Mario are singing the one song of their collection I remember . . . "down in the valley . . . valley so low . . . hear the wind blow . . .



(20)

The full moon rose huge tonight. Deep orange color. Now it's higher, with colder light. Bright enough to write by. I watch Rick sleeping. Long shadows of bare branches scrawl across him in unknown script. The fields are frozen in stillness at night now. All creatures are in snug holes of one sort or another. Birds have evacuated before the wind for sunnier lands. I did hear one strange call. A stoic bird as austere as winter. Down on the highway heavy trucks pass vibrating the ground we lie on. I can't see their lights. Only a delicate rise and fall in the shades of night. My stomach is empty but quiet.



(21)

Sandy and Mario were gone when the rest of us woke this morning. We are in real farm country now. It must be the poorer part though. Many fields look as if they are no longer worked. Low hills seem to roll to the horizon. It's all brown land and slate grey skies. The singers returned mid-morning bearing a monster loaf of hard-crusted bread - apple cider - and salami. What a feast ! Mario told us about troubadours and said that's what he and Sandy are. At the farm store old-timers welcomed their songs and contributed a few coins. The owner donated our breakfast and told the "troubadours" to come back tomorrow. They told him about our little family and that we'd work for food and a safe place to sleep. He said he'd spread the word. It was still cold but not so grey. The news had put a glint in the day. Now it was silver. Cider made us warm and inside-glad.



(22)

Jill is sick with fever. Warren and I stay with her in the field. We sit near to block the wind. It's out of the north and cold. The others have gone. Sandy and Mario to sing at the store. Rick went to talk to the owner about work. I pray in my silent way. I call it recognition. If we care about each other as small as we are there must be a greater wiser heart that cares about us all. We just have to learn to listen. I don't make a picture of someone in my mind. It's in the life that moves us all. If we weren't part of it we couldn't move or act or think or love. It's a logical continuance of the basic things I see around me - just vaster and wiser. It would be illogical if it weren't so. I hear the intermittent throb of farm road traffic. Not so regular as the highway. You're more aware of each passing. Jill coughs a deep cough once in awhile. She's sleeping in sunlight now. She'll be alright. I hear exuberant dogs running and barking in the distance. Warren is looking a bit drowsy. Seems like you can feel your bones settle quiet and warm in the sunlight. The field feels comfortable and friendly-smiling.




(23)

The exploring trio returned with good news.A farmer will let us sleep in an empty barn. The former four-footed occupants had to be sold. We can help some around the place. Jill feels better and Warren is jubilant ! Rick told us about the Johnsons. They have had to sell all livestock except a few, to pay bills. One barn is empty. Only half their farmland is now planted regularly. This is with soybeans and a small garden for family needs. He also delivered a lecture on virtues of soybeans. Marvelous little creations rich in nutrition. I was surprised to hear how much we need they supply. The Chinese knew long ago. We'll sleep well tonight and dream too. Hope is a physician. Promise is a sunrise.



(24)

The barn is rough but beautiful. Away from the main house. A larger barn near the house is the only one used by the Johnsons now. They are warm people with weathered faces - their share of old worry lines - laugh lines too - and a robust and deep faith in life. We can all feel that they feel like us. Rick has told them how we all got together and that our relationships are family-type. They understand and accept us. Rick calls the barn our two-story condo. The loft still has some hay in it. I love the good earthy smell, and the way sunlight sifts through in soft fuzzy yellow. We made Jill a bed in the loft, but the barn is tonic, and she'd rather explore. The Johnsons have a little burro they couldn't stand to part with. His name is Jake, and he has soft quiet eyes and twitching ears. He insists this barn is home. So - we have a new family member - or maybe I should say he has six ?



(25)

A rooster announced daybreak. The sounds of living creatures waking to the day is sort of Nature's music. I love the critters ! From the loft window we see an expanse of open land marked off with fences that only suggest a property line and discourage cows from roaming too far. There is no intrusion on the land here. The people work with Nature, well aware she can be coaxed, but not forced, and even Nature must be replenished. An old wisdom, forgotten in the cities and not learned in schools. We don't feel poor here. These people are plain and live close to the core of life. They judge by other standards. Already the barn shelter has enfolded us, and Jake has decided we can stay.



(26)

We eat with the Johnsons - Mr. and Mrs. and two sons and a younger daughter. Good plain food vigorous with family sharing. We had long laughs at the sons' stories about old Jake's antics. Father and Mother faces are seasoned by time and smiling at life. They have seen a lot come and go. Hearts have ripened, not shriveled. Mr. Johnson says this was always a small farm, now it's just smaller. The land seems vast to us after cramped city. Rick explained the farm s small compared to the huge corporate technology-run farm combines today - or something like that - whatever it means. Sleeping on hay at night. Waking up to rooster calls and lowing cows. Living close to Mother Earth's heart. Hearing her wisdom. I wish the old man could be here. He would like it. Who knows ? Maybe he is here. I think so.



(27)

Now that we're here, and things are showng signs of working out well, the two sons have gone to the city to work at tractor repair. Not enough work here. Most have had to abandon farming and sold tractors. The sons want to marry, and must have paying jobs. The daughter has gone to stay with an aunt in another town, to take a business course. It's good we're here to make parting less lonely. It isn't just the parting, it's also the reasons. The Johnson's are watching an end to generations of family farming. We can help with planting in May. We feel glad to know this will work to mutual advantage. It's a paradox, we are all here because we were born into families that did not have the glue of tradition. Stress and trouble parts families like that. But the Johnson's supply what we missed. And we supply what they would miss were we not here. You just have to think that a Great Wisdom planned this. All farms in this area are small family farms. Warren says we're lucky that in our ignorance we stumbled into the midst of our kind of folks. When I see how things worked out to answer everyone's need, I don't think lucky is the right word.



(28)

There's very little farm work needed right now, just general upkeep, and a few house repairs. Some farmers who no longer have children at home said they will call on us from time to time. For now we have plenty of time to fix up our barn home. I'm sure it must appear like a bouncing red-brown rectangle from the road, so much activity going on inside. Sweeping, hosing down , tacking up old horse blankets against the North wind - here and there a splash of patchwork color. We sleep in the loft. It's warmer there. Jake has opted for downstairs. We even have some odds and ends of furniture - chairs - tables - hammocks. Mr. Johnson says planting time will be a workout. Now is "getting-in-shape" time. Enjoy ! Days are mellow.



(29)

We hauled wood for two nearby farm couples today. These are older people whose children are now gone. They had to stop farming about two or three years ago. Sons and daughters went elsewhere for work. The land lies idle except for small gardens. They can no longer compete, but consider themselves lucky to be able to hold their home. There will be other things we can do. We were paid in cider and a lovely quilt. Too much for what we did. They wanted to give and we'll do more later. The art of quilt making is a wonderful grace. A bit like life, weaving warmth from small things. The ladies have started sewing circles again. So many farms are minimal now. Even in poverty there are blessings of togetherness for those wise enough to see them. We also brought some carrots for Jake. Something to see the dainty way he nibbles them in real appreciation.




(30)

Beat a slow drum. A man in a station wagon came to the house this afternoon. After supper, Mr. Johnson called us all into the parlor. He was sad and heavy. Told us in a monotone that our living in the barn would almost double his insurance costs. He just couldn't afford to pay more. He was so downhearted we had to comfort him. It was ridiculous, but those were the rules, the agent had told him. How he found out we were there, I don't know, but small-town news travels fast Mr. Johnson said. We will go to the farmer's meeting tomorrow night . He thinks maybe something can be arranged somewhere near. We can still help with Sprng planting, and they'll help us with food. We told him it would be alright - we'd find someplace else to sleep. But it was a crestfallen group that dragged back to the barn. We've come to love it. Such a feeling of home. Even Jake seemed to have heard the news and nuzzled my arm with extra attention. Warren says we've weathered worse and we'll weather this. Sandy and Mario are singing sad songs. Rick is silent. I understand. Like Jill, my worry's used up. I can only believe someway it will work out. I think we were led here, and not for it all to fold up. We were silent a long time before sleep. There was no need to talk - circulating feelings sad it.



(31)

Scooter found us today ! Popped in this morning all crinkled up with a gleeful grin. He brought a friend - a nice grey-haired lady with smooth, weathered skin, and a slow smile. Something about her unruffled manner and wise eyes reminds me of the old man. She has a lovely poetic name - Laura Lee. Warren said it's good Scooter found us before we had to move on. Gloom descended again, so Mario twanged a happy invention and Sandy pretended to yodel. Out of appreciation for their efforts, we all made up words and sang in campy confusion exorcising demons of doubt. We soon felt better. When all the commotion settled down, Jake snorted and was introduced to the new arrivals. Tonight - the meeting - pivot of our hope. Who knows ?



(32)

The farmer's meeting has convinced us all the more that here is where we want to be. These people talk out their problems, and nobody tries to shove anyone else. When we said this to Mr. Johnson later, he told us it wasn't always that way. There used to be lots of hard-headed disputes and holdouts. It's only since everyone boarded the "hard-time boat" that tempers settled and all began to work together to survive. We have a glimmer of hope. A plan was decided on, and for our part we appointed Rick and Warren to represent all of us. The barn is so quiet now I can hear Jake making funny noises in his sleep. Wonder what he's dreaming. Hope it's a nice dream. All creatures need them sometimes. All those at the meeting accepted us as belonging. What a joy - to feel "belonging" - like coming in out from cold rain.



(33)

The plan worked ! I was afraid to even write it lest all go poof . I don't understand all the legal language, but what it comes down to is Mr. Johnson deeded the barn to us in Rick's and Warren's names. They paid him $1 to make it legal. So now the barn is ours ! Any insurance is our responsibility. The land is still legally Mr. Johnson's as sub-dividing is a long involved process. He says as far as he's concerned the acre of land under and around the barn's south side is ours too. This does not effect his home location. Who else would argue ? That piece of paper is a treasure. It's our citizenship among people we love. Halleleujah ! The farm people all together bought us a metal box to keep it safe in. I'll never look at that box without feeling love. We celebrated tonight with cider, and christened the barn. We call it "Concord Studio" because we are learning to live in togetherness - "concord". I wish the old man were here. In a way he'll always be part of our family. You can't forget someone like that. We don't want to. We still learn from him everyday, and we sing his songs sometimes. (He's smiling.)



(34)

You'd have to be a poet to describe these days. Mario could do it much better. We get up with the sun, sharing a synchronicity with all life around us. Return to our "barn-ark" ( Scooter's term !) when night is full of cricket sounds. Spring is slowly emerging. We have soft showers, and when sun re-emerges it all glistens - trees and buds - fields and houses. Mario said it in true poetic fashion - "Spring tinsel". There is a deep peace that comes of simple honest work. Companionship of honest folk. We girls are learning to quilt. Laura Lee has established herself as 2nd cook to Mrs. Johnson. They concoct delectable surprises with soybeans. The men are preparing for Spring planting next month. Jake goes aroamin' in the grasses. He's a real part of our studio family. Everything fits together. Even the bees - whose main highway apparently runs through the barn windows.



(35)

Only Rick, Scooter, and I are sleeping in the barn now. Laura Lee stays in the main house and helps Mrs. Johnson. The others have paired off to stay with the two older couples we hauled wood for earlier. The three of us help Mr. Johnson with various things around here. It works out beautiful for all. Weekends we have picnic stype potluck in the barn. Great fun ! The "troubadours" sing, and we all make plans for craft sales in the barn later. Everyone is busy in spare time making things for it. They say on summer weekends city dwellers who seek out the countryside for breathing space are good buyers of quilts, afghans, cider, and other items that smack of downhome country life.



(36)

I'm alone on the barn now. Scooter and Rick are helping Mr. Johnson thin out some trees on back acres. They will saw and stack some wood to dry for next winter. This is the first time I've been alone here since we arrived. I think about the city shelter, where I sat under the skylight for a little sunlight. How blessed the difference ! I try to listen for the barn's response to us and the changes that have happened here. All I sense is a feeling of something that can expand, contract, change shape and quality with great resilience. It's like images in a dream alter in impact and reception without any external visible change. I can almost hear the wood breathing , singing, weeping, and laughing with us through all these seasons of the soul. It's a hovering presence - responsive - accepting.



(37)

We're ready for weekend crafts sale. The men have been hauling stuff in, and we women have been arranging for display. It all really makes for a colorful array. We have quilts, afghans, cider, homemade syrup, belt racks, hat trees, trays, small tables, potholders, samplers, bedspreads, cannisters made from tree boles and polished to a sheen - too many things to remember and list. This evening after shoppers have dwindled we will have our potluck and old-fashioned song fest. Even local people say it's been a long time since such things went on around here. Older ones recall it as children, and some younger ones remember Grandma's stories. Rick and I found an old round wood table with legs shattered beyond repair. Mr. Johnson gave us a can of bright yellow day-glo paint, left over from painting some posts by the drive so they could be seen in headlights. We painted a big smiling sun to put over the barn door. The Johnsons thought it a great idea, and suggested we make a sign for the craft sale to put roadside reading-CRAFT SALE - LOOK FOR THE SMILING SUN. We told them about the old man. To us - it's a memorial to him. It almost glows in the dark !



(38)

The sale last weekend was super ! Nobody made a fortune, but everyone sold something. Morale is greatly improved all around. It isn't just the money - it's the satisfaction of using our talents, and being rewarded when someone found them valuable . ! Some folks just came to look. I really believe there were some who envied our lifestyle. You could see it in their eyes. I think most thought it charming to visit, but could never find it appealing as a daily life. Every seed unfolds best in the environment of greatest affinity. Life has lots of different business to tend to, and needs us all to do it. Tonight I think the barn is glad for a regular farm weekend. I know Jake is ! You can tell by the way he heaves down to a recline and snorts a burro sigh. We're savoring the stillness of our loft too. In the woods cricket and frog band make soft music.



(39)

Haven't had time or leftover energy to write for awhile. Mr. Johnson was telling it true. Planting is a workout ! Especially for us novices. Sun-up to sun-down is perpetual motion. The rewards of accumulating vigor are beginning to show now. At first we could only flop in collapse at night and pray we could move in the mornng. We're still tired at night, but sleep like babes. It's a good wholesome tired. I'm sure no aerobics class has more benefits, and certainly not as great a result. The body is unprotestingly ready for a completely relaxed sleep. The mind is untangled - free of treadmill recitations. Spirit has an open expressway to course to cell, bone, and nerve. Sun-warmed soil and the good seed yielding is the way the Creator meant things to be. Glorious is the sower's work ! There's grandeur all around us we too often fail to see. Tonight we are receiving a benediction of gentle, whispering rain. Seeds will respond.



(40)

We've watched the seed sprout and grow. We've studied gathering clouds for portent of flooding rain - which happily did not happen But many fast-moving thunderstorms prospered the crop. Weekend craft sales waxed and waned like the moon. We've closed them out for now. After the harvesting in about six weeks, we will open a barter shop here for local people. Products and services swapped according to need. Such exchange has gone on for some time among neighbors, but today there is more dependence on it, and a central place for transaction is needed. Next weekend there will be a barn-painting party to get our home weatherized for winter. We have already tacked a heavy tarpaulin across the North Wall. That's the most vulnerable to winter storms, and barn walls are very leaky. Bit by bit we are painting a mural on it with whatever scenes and images have special meaning for us. Mario, Warren , and Laura Lee are the best artists. Whatever we decide on - they sketch in and we fill in the paint areas. It's good we're doing this while we can have the barn doors open. It gets quite pungent in here till the paint dries. Jake has filed several complaints. But he'll like the grassy, flowered meadow scene this winter. He got all tangled up in a hammock in the middle of the night last week. You'd have thought for sure space visitors had landed, with all the strange noises and carryin' on that rocked the barn. We have a home, and we're happy. We're a family. And that includes Jake.


Epilogue

The barn is all snug for winter. This afternoon we were all quietly together and looking back on this-time-last-year. No-one spoke in specifics but everyone felt gratitude that we had all found our way to a safe harbor without even knowing the way. Each had their own thoughts about it, and own name for it, but all agreed some higher, wiser, Power had been with us. Even when we were too inside-weary to know it. Mario was lying in a hammock looking straight up - musing - You know" - he said - "I really like our high-peaked ceiling. Reminds me of oldtime castles." Rick looked at me and smiled - "Who'd have ever thought adobe bricks could make a castle ?" He chuckled quietly. I said - "They can if they're the right kind." Rick just grinned and said - "And so - Miss Cryptic - and what is the right kind ?" I didn't have time to answer. Scooter knew - "The kind that'll fit together - of course . . . " Old Jake twitched his ears and snorted approval.





Adobe Bricks
Folk Opera


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