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July On the Farm: The Dale Saga Continues

Updated on January 29, 2016

And We Continue

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll continue with this. I started this series to grab your attention and get you acquainted, in a roundabout way, with my first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today.” It all leads up to my attempt to write the sequel to that novel, which I’ll be starting soon.

Well, I’ve done that. All the characters in this series of short stories will be in that sequel, and I guess I just wanted you to get to know them a bit in advance.

Two people I admire and respect greatly keep telling me that “The Shuttle” is their favorite work written by me. Without a doubt I’m a better writer than I was when that novel was written four-and-a-half years ago, but there is something about that book that I absolutely love and cherish.

Perhaps it’s the motley crew of characters, all quirky and all instantly likable. Perhaps it’s the two central themes of the book….that love alters reality and that we really must start taking care of our planet.

Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to write the sequel and this continuing short story, about the Hollis and Dale families, is a taste of that sequel. I hope you are enjoying it.

When we last visited the Dale farm in Charles City, Iowa, Astarte and Hope Hollis were paying a visit.

Shall we join them?

Source

July on the Farm

July in Iowa….blistering….water leeched from the ground, underfoot a crackling of dried grasses as I make my way to the barn for the tools needed to fix a broken fence-line. A gentle breeze offers no respite from the heat and only serves to push the dust across the backyard. Fifty yards away, a dust devil dances in the fields. Our twelve-year old Lab, Buster, is having none of it. He’s camped under the back stairs in the shade. He eyes me as I walk slowly away from him, probably deciding if it’s worth the effort to follow me. He decides it isn’t.

Swallows play tag in the rafters as I enter the smaller of two Dale barns, defying logic as they weave to and fro, narrowly missing aged hardwood with each maneuver. If they’re thirsty they don’t show it, and I find them to be exhausting. This is the tenth day of the current heat wave, the second of the summer, and heat means critters and crops in dire need of water. In the distance I can hear the great Kubota sprinkler doing its best to water the northeast section. I make a mental note to move it in an hour as I grab the wire cutters and a spool of wire.

I hear giggling from the hayloft and looking up I see Hope playing with our daughter, Heather. Hope and her mother, Astarte, have been with us for a month, and rarely is Hope found without our young daughter in tow. I wave up at them.

“Good morning, Mr. Dale,” Hope yells down at me. Heather only giggles as her tiny fingers wiggle in my direction.

I’m struck, once more, by the radiant beauty of our ten-year old visitor. Sunlight streams through the upper window and frames her golden head, giving the impression of heavenly hosts smiling upon her. She is simply beautiful in all ways, peacefulness and grace on two legs.

“Good morning, Hope. Your mother says breakfast is ready and to hustle to the kitchen.” I wave as I carry my load out to the waiting tractor. Chores don’t wait for cooler temperatures. In fact, they multiply, so I quicken my steps. I toss the wire on the back of the old John Deere and hear the voice of my lover.

“Not so fast, Sugar! Here’s some lemonade to keep you hydrated.”

God she’s a beauty, my Cajun girl from New Iberia, Louisiana. Her brow is wet, her sundress sticking to her skin browned by the sun, her smile still capable of stirring my loins and making me as horny as a young bull. I smile as she hands me the glass dripping with condensation. She kisses me and I consider picking her up and carrying her off to bed.

“I know that look in your eyes, William. You just keep the one-eyed monster in your pants. There’s work to do. The next group of writers is due in an hour, and we’ve got a new family arriving this afternoon to stay in the bed and breakfast, so drink your lemonade, give me the glass and we’ll both get back to work.”

It’s been this way all summer. The big barn has been packed with artists for retreats, and the bed and breakfast business was constant. In fact, since our trip to Oregon in the spring, the crops have grown as never before. I looked beyond Sarah at the acres of corn, six feet tall and still growing, their stalks dancing with the breeze, their leaves rustling a tune of fertility for all to hear. Up at the end of the driveway, my sister Jeannie was setting up the produce stand, and two cars were parked waiting for her to start selling fresh eggs and summer lettuce. Inside the farmhouse I could hear Ma and Astarte laughing.

Life is good!

Source

Break for Lunch

The morning is gone before I know it and I drag my weary bones into the kitchen for lunch. It’s a good weary, though, a weary born from hard work and satisfaction from providing for one’s family and working in harmony with the earth. As I walk into the kitchen I am blown away, once more, by how lucky I am. The Dale women, Ma and Jeannie, are setting the table. Sarah kisses me on the cheek and Hope is bouncing Heather on her knee. Astarte pours ice water into glasses and gifts me with smile. Six women, all so important in my life…..all are my life.

Ma points at the chair and commands me to sit. I sit.

We are all seated within a matter of minutes. As is our new custom we hold hands and look at Hope, our ten-year old minister of love.

“Mother Nature,” she says. We are gathered together, in love, for sustenance. Bless us with your bounty and we, in turn, promise to treat you gently and never betray your trust in us. Wherever people are gathered in love, there love shall always remain and flourish. Remember, always, love alters reality. Amen!”

Ma passed me the rolls. “Your father is smiling down on you today, William. He’s proud of you, son, and so am I. Hell’s bells, I’m proud of us all. Six months ago this farm was about to go back to the bank and now look at us. Too damned busy to know which end is up. My, my, my, how our lives have changed since we met the Hollis family. Astarte, we are in your debt.”

“There is no debt, Mrs. Dale,” Astarte said. “We are supposed to be together. As surely as the river flows to the sea, my daughter Hope flowed to Heather, and our families flowed together, small streams joining to form a powerful river, a river of love, a raging river that will overflow its banks and irrigate the parched landscape where the rest of humanity awaits. It was all predestined, don’t you see?”

That’s how she talks. I admit, it’s a bit disconcerting at times, and most times confusing, but her sincerity is never in doubt and I gotta tell you, I’m becoming a believer in whatever she’s selling.

Sarah takes a bite of chicken, wipes her mouth and releases the same question I’ve had for months.

“I still don’t understand, Astarte. Why us? Why you? Why are our families joining? You say your mother, Sheila, sees the future. You say you do as well. Hell, Sugar, I don’t even know how that works. And you say our daughter is going to help your daughter in some religious effort. Now Asti, you know I love you to bits, but I’m still having a hard time wrapping my brain around all this. Can you give us some proof? Some tangible evidence that what you say is true? This is our daughter, and she’s the most precious thing in our lives and damn, friend, I need something concrete.”

Source

The Blind Shall See

Astarte only smiled, and her beauty radiated outward and we all found ourselves smiling in return.

“You want proof? Is Mother Nature required to prove her existence? Can we prove the existence of love? Can we count the bounty of compassion the way we count coins?

“Still, I understand. Let me ask you this, Sarah. When was the last time you spoke to your Maw Maw?”

“Well, it was last week, Asti. I called her up and we talked for a good half-hour.”

“And how was your Maw Maw at that time?”

“She seemed fine. She said she was busy at her church volunteering. She said she was a bit tired but that was to be expected of an old woman who has lived a long life, and she said she loved me.”

“So, she didn’t tell you that she is dying and will be coming here in two days?”

No one said anything. The silence weighed down upon us, broken only by the grandfather clock ticking in the parlor. Tears formed in Sarah’s eyes but words refused to leave her lips.

Astarte continued.

“Don’t be sad, Sarah. When your Maw Maw arrives in two days, the proof you seek will arrive with her. I promise you, your Maw Maw will be fine. Now, who wants some blueberry pie, fresh out of the oven? We’ll need to save a piece for my mother, though. She will be arriving in two days, too, about the same time as Maw Maw. It wouldn’t do to have Maw Maw die without my mother here, would it now?”

And Now We All Have to Wait

Next week, all shall be revealed, so I ask you all to be patient until next week’s installment.

In the meantime, remember, love alters reality.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 16 months ago from New York, New York

      Cannot wait for next week's reveal now as the story is truly getting good. Have a great weekend now, Bill!! :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 16 months ago from Southern Illinois

      " A dust devil dances in the fields. " It's lines like this that makes you an excellent writer. I love this story. It has a touch of mystery and suspense, even the paranormal. Thank you for sharing a part with us.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 16 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Awesome, I sat down just to read more of this saga. A great tale. Sad about Maw Maw, it will be hard on Sarah. I eagerly await next week.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 16 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Excellent story-telling... you whip us one way, then the other... and we hang on every word. Look forward to next week, too, of course! Thanks! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 16 months ago from The Caribbean

      The setting seems full of love and togetherness. Loss through sickness and even death in this atmosphere will be less burdensome than elsewhere. Are we being prepared for that? I'll wait like everyone else.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Janine. All will be revealed next week. Enjoy the heck out of your weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Ruby. I still have a lot of work to do on my writing skills, but I'm trying. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maybe, maybe not, Eric....more shall be revealed soon, and surprises are in store. Thank you for sitting down, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill. I will try not to disappoint...we are heading into the paranormal, so hang on tight. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, I can tell you that you are being prepared for something for sure. :) Thank you, my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 16 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Even in loss the heartbreak will not be quite so difficult because of the love all of these people share with one another. Joy is doubled, sorrow is halved.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, indeed....and it may be less than that...stay tuned. :)

      Have a great weekend and thank you!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 16 months ago from Northern California, USA

      I think with all the turmoil going on in the world today, this is the kind of story people can get comfortable reading. When I read this story, I get the same kind of feeling I get reading stories like, "Little House on the Prairie." The love of family, the appreciation of nature, that togetherness that seems to be lost is what this story delivers. I truly enjoy reading this series.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you very much. That's what I wanted this series to convey...well, that and a tie-in to my first novel. Thank you for the affirmation.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

      What a pleasant and enjoyable work of literature.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Larry!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

      All your characters in this story are so appealing Bill. You always leave us hanging and looking forward to what comes next. A great way of tying your first novel to the sequel.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! Now, as soon as I come up with a story line, I'll begin that next novel. :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 16 months ago

      Love this series. It calms me down.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 16 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      "a dust devil dances in the fields..." "Swallows play tag in the rafters..." “You want proof? Is Mother Nature required to prove her existence? Can we prove the existence of love? Can we count the bounty of compassion the way we count coins?" Ruby expressed it so well: It's lines like these that makes you an excellent writer. I love this series, Bill. Your talents as a writer, your uncanny understanding of human nature and the hope, love and understanding of humanity are the cornerstones of your superb writing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Pop, that's a good thing, right? :) Thank you so much. I had no idea this was going to be so well-received, but I'm grateful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, I'm trying hard to be the writer you think I am. This writing gig is tough work, you know? Of course you do.

      Thank you and blessings always!

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 16 months ago from Nibiru

      Have you ever though about supeing up that tractor and racing it?

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 16 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This installment in your story is very enjoyable, just like all the other hubs in the series. I'm looking forward to reading about the new visitors. I find the paranormal aspect of the tale very intriguing. I think that the "paranormal" is really a normal part of reality that we don't understand. I love reading stories about it!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Clive, I have to admit, I've never given that a thought. :) Thanks for "planting the seed."

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I do too, Alicia. Perhaps that is why it appeared in my very first novel, and it continues to appear in practically every book and short story I write...there is just so much we don't understand.

      Anyway, thank you so much for reading this installment.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 16 months ago from Dubai

      Great read, will wait patiently for the next.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thank you so much, Vellur!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 16 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      I do like the characters,as they seem like they are my kind of people.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Deb! I try to make them as likable as possibly...good, hard-working farm folk.

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 16 months ago

      a nice hub

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 16 months ago from london

      I can see why others like this creative beauty. Like me, you're very versatile; resourceful. So I won't say that it's your best, no, just different. More practical; more everyday life; more eco-friendly ....here you make use of your characters well.

      Billy is fast-paced, clever, full of suspense ... flows, like a river. A great achievement. Again your mailbag is something else, and your recent book is quite different.

      Yes, I concur that you have improved as a writer, we all ... or most of us have. So your ability is ... or lies in creative writing.

      A sweet, charming, loving and homely Hub, Bro. Continue ...continue ...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Sujaya!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Manatita, thank you so much for the affirmation....I greatly appreciate your encouragement, my friend.

      Peace be with you!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 16 months ago from United Kingdom

      Nooooooo...not Maw Maw. It's too soon! :O

      I read that JK Rowling was heartbroken when she laid Dumbledore to rest. I reckon you'll feel the same when Maw Maw passes. I know I will be. :(

      By the way, you might want to go ahead a bake a fresh blueberry pie rather than 'save a piece'. It'll be stale by the time Maw Maw arrives and Sheila arrive and they deserve better.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good tip on that pie, Zulma. See, I need my friends when I lay out a plot line. :) Thanks for being along on this fun trip...don't you worry about Maw Maw...she's in good hands.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 16 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      You got me hooked. Looking forward to more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, Rasma. Thanks for hopping on the story train.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 16 months ago from Texas

      Wow Bill, Heather is growing up to fast. I do enjoy reading your stories even when they about ordinary everyday people.

      Blessings to you my friend

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Shyron! It's hard to hold myself back and not put an action scene in it. :) Blessings to you, always!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 16 months ago from SW England

      Wow! What a bomb-shell! I love, love, love this series of yours. The characters are the best ever. No matter how sad or how happy they make us feel, hope shines through the lot (or should I say Hope?).

      This will make a great novel, bill. You have so much going on and somehow you're managing to organise it all - hats off to you, my friend!

      Ann :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so very much, Ann. These characters are enjoyable to write about...just enough whimsy to make it interesting, but beyond that, it's just nice to write about good people. I'm so happy you are enjoying them as much as I am.

      bill

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 15 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I'm a day late and a dollar short running behind time; will try to get to the grand conclusion before the day ends! So interesting!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jackie! You are never late to my site, Jackie! The door is always unlocked for you.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 15 months ago from Central Florida

      As you know, the 12/59 Shuttle is my favorite novel of yours, for all the reasons you stated above and the hippie lifestyle it brings to mind. I have a soft spot for hippies. I'm thrilled you're writing a sequel. Pretty soon my bookcase will have its own shelf dedicated to William D Holland novels!

      I think it's very cool that Sheila and Maw Maw will be in Iowa at the same time. I'm sure it's preordained. Can't wait to see what happens. It'll be enlightening, I'm sure.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I'm waiting for the characters to talk to me. I don't have a story line yet, but I'm sure Sheila will whisper in my ear one of these days. Until then I've got other projects to work on. Thanks for being such a loyal friend.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 15 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Somehow, the Spirit hovers over this family. Love does this I think and it is a pleasure to be even just for a moment with this family.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      What a sweet thing for you to say, Aesta. Thank you! Have a loving weekend.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 15 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Life on the farm does not seem to be so bad when I read this first entry. Feelings of gratitude is clearly expressed. I loved the sexual overtones.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Nadine! I enjoy writing about good, hard-working people who love deeply.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

      Those folks have to give up their cussing before the child starts to speak, else her first words with be bad ones!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good suggestion, Flourish! I think you'll see a change in their behavior.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 15 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Love knows no boundaries! This is a great story about one of life's most precious things, love! The love and friendship between strangers who're brought together and have no idea why!

      Great story

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lawrence! It happens to be my favorite theme to write about.

      bill

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