Summary: Life’s Simpler Pleasures on a Spring Day…
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Word count: 1,355
Johnny tilted his face upwards, greeting the sunlight as it kissed his face flushed from his toils; he momentarily paused to inhale deeply, filled his lungs with the sweet fresh breezes blowing down from the San Jacinto Mountains into the valley floor. The earth was brimming with motion, chirping meadowlarks, red-winged black birds and blue jays flitter about soaring in the gentle winds, while the pasture grasses were softly rustling as cattle mooed as they bent their heads down to fill their bellies with the sweet, emerald green meadow carpet, overhead white billowy clouds leisurely floated across the brilliant azure sky. Traces of vivid wildflowers could be seen, if one only made the time to glance at the specks of yellow, red, blue and purple peeking up in the pasture in patches. There was a combination of many distinct smells that Johnny’s nose twitched while his brain sorted each of them.
Meanwhile, big brother, Scott had kept up his pace of the back-breaking labor that required both pairs of hands. The Lancer boys had been assigned the task of unloading the cumbersome bales of hay from the wagon that they had gone into Spanish Wells to pick-up from the Feed Store. Scott umpped as he tried balancing his end of the bale which suddenly was much heavier than only a moment ago. He leaned around the bale to observe his brother, not pitching in on his end.
“Something the matter, Johnny?”
“Then what are you doing? I nearly busted a gut with this load,” Scott turned his head upwards to see what his brother was looking at…he saw nothing extraordinary in the view.
“Lo siento, brother. Can ya smell that?” his face wide with a grin, still pointed towards the heavens.
“Smell what? Horse manure? My sweat? The slop from the pig pen? What?”
“Nah, Scott, the roses.”
“Roses? You’re joking right? We’ve got work to do, brother, pick up your end, will you? Let’s get this chore finished.”
“Hold on a sec, can’t ya smell the roses?”
“Go on, Boston, try it. This can wait. The smell is worth it. Go ahead up, suck air in ya nose,” Johnny watched as his brother followed his previous activity. He noticed that Scott’s long thin nose, a “Patrician” nose; Scott called it, twitched as fragrances floating with the mild spring breeze made contact with that slender nose.
“Smells pretty, don’t it, brother?”
Scott smiled indulgently at Johnny, however he was in complete wonderment, his brother never ceased to amaze him. Johnny somehow always managed to observe things no one else bothered to notice. Maybe this was an off-shoot of his gunslinger days when he had to depend upon his instincts for survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest” crossed his brain as he thought it was too bad that Charles Darwin had never met his brother. Now here was the perfect specimen for him to have studied that Herbert Spencer in his book “Principles of Biology” described about Darwin’s theories when he first coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”.
Johnny certainly exceeded Darwin’s beliefs that “natural selection conceived of as a struggle for life in which only those organisms’ best adapted to existing conditions are able to survive and reproduce”. Yes, thought Scott, this was Johnny in a nutshell, not that he’d tell him this or dare call his brother an organism.
“You mean to tell me Johnny that you could pick out the traces of your mother’s roses all the way from the house to the barn? How in the world did you manage that, brother?”
Johnny pushed on his end of the hay bale, motioning for Scott to grab his end, “Simple Scott. Once ya know what something smells like, it’s easy ta pick out its scent.”
“But Johnny those roses are at least a good five hundred yards, if not more, away. I never would have noticed them if you hadn’t stopped to smell the roses.”
“Well, Boston, now that I know that my mama planted those bushes, well, they’re extra special ta me more so than that lye soap ya used this mornin’… that stuff just plain stinks. Whooie…”
“Thanks brother. That could be me from all the superfluous work I’m doing here, while you slack off.”
“Ya right, Scott, it just might be ya,” Johnny laughed, brushed a stray strand of hair away from his eyes. He tilted his head and took one more deep breath of air. “Didn’t want to say anything, but well…I mean ya could use a hot bath…”
Scott pulled another hay bale while Johnny balanced it getting it out of the wagon in well-honed collaboration.
“I’m glad Maria took care of those bushes for you, Johnny,” he said as they stacked the bale they were carrying. “They are eye appealing, with those bright scarlet blossoms against the courtyard wall. I don’t recall ever seeing roses that crimson before. What did you call them?”
“That’s the ideal name for them. They look like a blaze of fire along the wall.”
“Mama always did like red, said it suited her temperament. When I was a kid, I kinda thought she was talkin’ about chili peppers, ‘cos she sure did like cookin’ just about everything with those. And they sure did have a bite to match hers when she got angry.”
Scott grunted as they carried another bale into the barn, “Small wonder that you like your food extra spicy, you were brought up on that blistering stuff.”
Johnny dropped his end of another bale onto the growing stack, wiped his brow with the back of his shirt sleeve, “I’m glad Murdoch told me she planted those roses. Makes ‘em special, at least ta me, ya know?”
Scott slapped the back of his hand against Johnny’s taut belly; he could feel the resistance as his hand pressed into Johnny’s taut muscles. “I do, brother. I think it’s nice to find out something about a friend or family member that they would never divulge themselves. Come on, let’s get this job finished. Don’t know about you but I’m going to enjoy soaking in that hot tub, sooner than later.”
“Yeah, me too, ya sure do stink, Boston,” joshed Johnny as he clapped his arm around Scott’s shoulder as they walked out of the barn for another bale.
Johnny lifted his head back and smelled the air again, “Hold up Scott, ya smell that?”
“Come on Johnny, I’ve already stopped and smelled the roses once, let’s get this done.”
“Boston, this one is a special aroma; this one has break-time branded on it.”
“What is it your bloodhound snout smells this time?” Scott joked, wiping away more sweat from his forehead. “Really, Johnny I can’t pick out anything else.”
“CHOCOLATE! Ya can’t smell that? BOY! Hey! Wait a sec…today’s Friday right?”
“Yes, all day and you’re making it longer with all you’re goofing off, Johnny.”
“Maria’s baking today! Johnny danced a little jig alongside his brother. “Race ya ta the kitchen, I’ll bet ya she’s makin’ those chocolate cookies.”
“NOW?” asked Scott as he leaned his narrow butt against the wagon, wiping at another trickle of sweat.
“Yup, NOW! Those hot cookies fresh out of the oven are callin’ me! Ya comin?”
Scott took another look at Johnny, back to the hay bales, figured that they could afford a short break while Johnny got his sugar fix.
“You’re on brother.”
Off raced the two boys, laughing and shoving the other to see who would make it to the kitchen before the other.
Murdoch looked out the French windows just in the nick of time to see his sons, storming towards the house, laughing and pushing at each other just like small children as he too caught an enticing whiff of chocolate filtering from the kitchen. He knew where his sons were headed, grinned, then tossed the papers he had been reviewing onto his desk to go join his boys.
“Spring has sprung, every time Maria’s bakes,” he thought as he too raced into the kitchen to find Johnny already stuffing a hot cookie into his mouth.
Patti – March 19, 2010
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