Saturday, December 27, 2008

Melisande D'Angecoeur Or Grey Sky Story (working title)

Presber County, Dillon Farm

It was a cold, dreary, sunless morning in late November. Heavy, laden clouds hung low in the sky, threatening the storm they promised. Under this blanket of grey sat the Dillon's farm on soft, rolling, hills dotted with trees. The hills were nothing more than raw brown earth this time of year. The trees were barren, save for a few stubborn leaves clinging desperately to the empty branches. The farmhouse and barns could be seen in the distance, clustered together on a hill, as if they too knew a storm was coming. The fields lay empty, having born their crops long since, all but one that is, the goosenberries had yet to come in. Rows of bushes sill holding onto their now dull, green, waxy leaves held clusters of fully ripe, burgundy and bright green coloured berries. The expanse of bushes crossed the road that ran through the Dillon farm and continued for almost a full acre.

Since she was eleven, Melisande had been in charge of the collection of goosenberries. She had a nose for frost. The berries were sweetest when brought in after the first light frost, but before any real freeze hit them. In this part of the country frost and freezing followed close behind each other. Hers was a knack that made a pretty profit, as goosenberries were in high demand for the Winter Festival that was but a short week away. Goosenberry pie on the first night of the festival was a well-coveted treat and was paid dearly for.

Ever practical, Melisande preferred warm to 'lady-like'. So today, like many days, she did not look like a lady. It was a constant battle between her and her mother to get her to act and dress more like a young lady should. Stubborn, and willful Melisande often won. Besides, what did it matter what she wore when she was out in the fields; who was there to see her other than her family and their workers. Today she wore a thick, steel blue, wool sweater two sizes too big, over a simple deeper blue dress. Her skirts were hiked up to keep them from the mud, showing her thick wool pants beneath. Her long chestnut brown hair was loosely braided, and half-hidden under her sea blue toque. She wore fingerless wool gloves and rubber boots just like the rest of the workers, and her family. They were all out in the field today. They needed to get the crop is as fast as they could or they would loose it.

Melisande stood in row of goosenberry bushes, knife in one hand, berry cluster held gingerly in the other. One quick snip and the berries were in her hand. Quickly but gently she placed them in the half-full basket hanging from her wrist. She looked up along the row of bushes at the workers briskly cutting clusters and transferring them to awaiting baskets. Her eyes went to the sky. She whispered a quick prayer to Fria, goddess of nature, to hold off on her storm until tonight. Melisande only hopped there would be enough time. Her breathe was white in front of her, but her layers of wool kept her warm, save for her hands. Her fingers were almost numb from the cold, but the action was automatic now, she'd been doing this for 6 seasons. Hold, cut fast, release softly, repeat.

Note: I've been trying to get this right for, oh more tha ten years now, and I've never found a way to explain they grey dreary scene I saw in my head. This, this is an attempt I actually like. I'm tickled pink, so to speak. And I'm hoping I can make a story of it.

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