Nature’s Beast

By Andrew R. Duckworth

Photo and editing by Andrew R. Duckworth

The air grows cooler, slight drop in temperature for the flowers on the ridge. Purple, pink, blue, yellow, and then the green the stretches to the western lands where it comes in patches and then stone and clay. But this small stretch on the ridge is special, a sure sign that spring has sprung. Down from the ridge, a pond, larger than most, but only just a pond until the trees take over. The trees. Starting to get those leaves back.

Cooler. A gentle wind brushes the flowers and they seem to shiver, not quite shake or wave. The minutes pass and the flowers don’t even seem to notice. But they age as well and every minute is another minute closer to their end. The wind picks up and the sun sets over the horizon, colors cascading all across the partly cloudy sky. Those vibrant colors will fade into night where the moon will never quite get a glimpse over the clouds of the well adorned ridge.

Cooler. One would almost need a coat. But flowers don’t wear them. The coyotes haven’t come to claim their prey just yet, but the time for them is nearing. They wear coats. They were called to survive out here and they haven’t begun to shed that extra layer, as if they know something. The wind at night is a cruel beast, nipping at the unprotected.

Cooler. That lake begins to harden. A thin layer for now, easily breakable by the throw of a small stone. The wind picks up, that beast fuming at the mouth a wicked chill. The coyotes begin their call at the slightest crack of the moon in a break between passing clouds. A short glimpse of the darkened heavens. Whining, almost a laughter, as the coyotes prance up the ridge and off to capture their prey. The flowers. The flowers could almost be black with the night sky were it not for a small glimmer from frost and the dim light casting down from glowing clouds.

Cooler. Day break not far away. Purple, pink, blue, yellow, all of it shriveled by the unyielding beast and the moisture from its nostrils. Foliage clinging to life as the lake freezes solid. The ridge losing its crown. And the coyotes dragging a fresh kill to the ground.

Cooler. A gentle glow over the horizon and then a peak, that eye sending rays across the sky. Still dark. Still early. Still dying. Flowers shriveled to nothing. Frozen. Fragile life taken. But that star doesn’t give up, even on the wasteland.

Frozen.

In need of a thaw.

Imagine what it might have been for a man in these conditions.

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