Good Morning Walk
Janice closed the side door of her small cottage, pulling the handle until she heard the click that let her know it was securely closed. She turned and looked down her brick, basket weave paved driveway, to its end, into the short street in which she lived. At the end of the drive, to the right of the street a small forest of trees with an entrance into the park resided, but it was not her destination.
Taking in a deep breath she smelled the hibiscus that grew alongside the driveway, their large colorful blooms swaying gently with a breeze that caused her to remember the hot coffee she carried in a travel mug. She took a sip of the fragrant brew and smiled as it worked its way down her throat. She closed her eyes and felt its power, as it warmed her as it went down. The tonic seemed to go through her veins and she imagined it being an IV drip passing through her arms and legs and tingling happily to her fingertips and toes. She opened her eyes and everything she saw seemed brighter, sharper and more alive as the coffee wakened her mind.
She heard Teddy shake his thick short body, and the clanging of the cymbals like medallions that were attached to his collar that would identify that he had his rabies shot and did indeed have an owner who would miss him dearly. The boxer yawned and then looked up at Janice as if to say, “Are we going or what?”
“Come on Teddy, let’s get our morning exercise on,” Janice said as if to answer his questioning look.
The sun had not yet risen, but the early morning glow cast its spell across the sky promising a glorious bright sunny morning. Today’s walk would peak at Shady Hill where Janice was hoping to see the rising of the sun over the village in which she lived right outside of. There was thirty minutes to make the mile and a half distance and she knew there would be people along the way to greet.
Taking another drink of coffee Janice began her walk on the winding path of the street that she lived on. The street ended into Main Street and on the corner was Fresh Start, a bakery and coffee shop owned by Janice’s sister-in-law Gwen. Surprisingly, Gwen was not in the back baking but in the front. The two women saw each other at the same time and smiled and waved their left hands two each other at the same time. Gwen opened the door after turning the sign on it from closed to open.
The two sisters and friends embraced each other as if they were old school mates who hadn’t seen each other in ten years. It was far from the truth as they saw each other every day and most days twice.
“You don’t drop that bundle soon I won’t be able to get my arms fully around you,” Janice teased Gwen who had just entered her ninth month of pregnancy.
“The doctor told me yesterday that the baby should arrive on the due date or earlier. It’s good and ready for its entrance into society.” Gwen announced.
“Well good. It’s far time I have another niece or nephew to spoil,” Janice said encouragingly. Then she changed the subject to the goal at hand. “I’ll stop buy after my walk and grab a spinach and bacon quiche, and we can talk more.”
“I’ll put one to the side for you. I have some fun town gossip to share with you.” Gwen said with mischief sparkling in her eyes.
Janice waved and walked away from Gwen stepping quickly to catch up with the fast trotting Teddy who didn’t really care to stop and chat with anyone on his morning strolls. They turned from Main Street onto Willow row. The long wide street was named for the large Willow trees that flanked it. It was a half a mile stretch that led to Old Lady Melba’s mansion. It was Lady Melba who planted the willow trees. There is a story behind her planting them, as there is always a story behind extraordinary things.
It is told that Lady Melba came from a family of royalty, and whose sister married a Prince. Lady Melba was betrothed to marry into a wealthy household. This however was not to be as she fell in love with one of the stable boys who tended her heard of Arabian horses. When word of this relationship reached her parents they shipped her off and all that belonged to her including her stable boy and told her she was never to return.
Together they bred award winning stallions and became quite wealthy. As a tenth anniversary gift to Lady Melba her stable boy who was then her husband commissioned a home to be built that was a miniature of the castle in which she lived. Four years it took to make this home and when it was finished he took her to it. They stood in front of the dwelling and Lady Melba squealed with happiness over the gift.
“Here is where you will live and be a princess in your very own castle,” he said as he handed her the key.
“Here is where we should live and you will be my King of our very own castle,” Lady Melba countered.
Her husband smiled at her and they hugged. His hug however became too heavy for Lady Melba to bear and before she knew it he was on the ground and she was on top of him the two still embracing. Lady Melba as gently as she could loosen herself from her husband, looked down at him. She checked for signs of any life in him but there were none. That is when her crying began. She lay upon his chest and cried for six hours before someone found the two of them. She cried for month none stop, through his funeral, and through his burial until one day the full moon showed through her bedroom window. She rose from the bed in which she had soaked with her tears and took soppy steps to the window and looked out into the long path that led to her mansion. It was that day that she decided to plant a Willow tree to cry for her as she had cried all the tears she could cry. Each year after that, she planted a new willow tree; thirty two to be exact. As she completed the last tree she walked up the path to her home, as she did that very day with her stable boy husband turned wealthy entrepreneur. Suddenly she stopped to look at her home and recalled the last words they said to each other, unknowingly standing at the same spot they had spoken them to each other, and there she fell to the ground and died.
Janice loved recalling that tale. Its truth she never bothered to research to find how much of it was truth. She rather liked recalling as it had been told countless times. She reached the mansion and saw Lord Shelton wrapped in his long black satin robe and wearing leather slippers, getting his mail at the end of the path. He was the great grandson of Lady Melba and latest dweller of estate, who still raised award winning Arabian Stallions.
“Good morning Janice,” he greeted her and bent down to give Teddy a vigorous rub down of his ears and stubby little neck. “How’s the Teddy doing today?”
“Good Morning Lord Shelton,” Janice greeted. “Good to see you up and about after the rough spring allergy season.”
“Good to be out,” he said rising from his play time with Teddy. “Are you coming over today to exercise one of my horses?”
“Yes, One O’clock as always,” Janice answered.
He turned and walked away and Janice and Teddy continued on their walk. They climbed the final hill of their walk that led to the edge of the countryside and descended into the valley where town dwelt. She sat against her favorite tree, far from the street and hidden from the road into town. Teddy laid next to her and placed his head on her thigh and together they watched the sun rise on the other side of the valley. The early morning blue sky dressed first in a pink and lavender skirt. It then donned the summers most glorious blue over coat. The sun grew warm in the sky and evaporated the morning dew that cast it’s layer on the earth’s surface.
Janice rubbed Teddy’s head.
“Another beautiful day has begun,” she said to him. Teddy looked up at her and lifted one eyebrow as if to agree with her.
“Shall we go get some breakfasted now?” Janice asked him.
Teddy’s answer was in his raising quickly two his feet and running back and forth in front of her and around her with his tail wagging.
Janice lit the air with her laughter and together the two best friends headed for Fresh Start.