Editor’s note: The following is the latest in a series of stories written by local author Richard Mays the Daily News is featuring on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The stories, presented in serial fashion, are works of fiction.
Invariably after a good nap, they awoke and joined in the town-wide choir. They were also given an overflowing plate of homemade food. A sad face was never to be found.
One of Tree’s absolute favorites was a group of eight men dressed in bright red and yellow coats wearing funny hats with big feathers sticking out. They would make what Clock called music.
Tree admired Clock, because the music would be so happy that every once in a while, Clock would join in a ring of its bell.
At some point, men would stand on a stump or blocks of wood and speak about the glory of God and America. Children would play and laugh. They would come when their mothers told them it was time to eat and afterwards, they would play again.
Women would gather around and sew large pieces of cloth together into a beautiful square quilt and catch up on the week’s events.
Tree noticed that many men stood next to a wagon and would use a large cup to catch a light brown liquid that had a white foam on top. Tree asked Clock what it was, but Clock just smiled and said it was something that the German immigrants enjoyed. Although Tree did not understand the explanation, it was enough for him.
As the daylight began to shorten, people would pack up their goods onto their wagons, tell others goodbye, and began heading for home.
Tree loved seeing all of the happy people play on the lawn; but, when everyone had gone, he had a sense of loneliness. The birds and squirrels seemed to settle in for the night just a little earlier on a Sunday.
As the sun slipped below the forest, Tree could hear the creatures of the night begin their nightly foraging.
The noisy calamity of the day was replaced by quite calmness. Clock told Tree that this cycle had gone on long before he was here and would continue long after he was gone. Clock told Tree that it was the simple joys in life that must be savored and appreciated.
Life went on. Day after day. Week after week. Months on end. A pattern of people and events began to emerge for Tree, but like so many things in life, some things have to change.
Even though the train came through Greensburg every day, it should have been routine and boring. The fact is that was always an exciting event for this little town. When the large smoking trains would pull into town, people would be excited. The men working the loading docks knew exactly when and how to load and unload. Sometimes a happy engineer would blow his steam whistle so that everyone in the town and the surrounding area would be comforted by the knowledge that, “The train was here!”
Tree had gotten use to this pattern.
One day Tree could see the plume of smoke and steam from the train coming through the forest as it made its way toward Greensburg. Tree had expected to see the adults and children smile as it had always been.
Today, however, something was different.
See Tuesday’s Daily News for the next chapter in this ongoing story.