Riverblossom Farmers' Guardian - Winter 2006 Issue
Patricia Wan, chief editor
Jason Greenman, contributing writer
Cleo McGreggor,contributing writer
Cleo McGreggor,contributing writer
Jason Greenman, contirbuting writer
When one walks down the dirt paths of Riverblossom these days, one cannot but feel that there are something missing. The Viejo farmhouse was almost like the local community center, where you could always find and join one of your friends who is already on the front porch for a friendly chat, yet now, you are greeted by the whistles of the winter cold when you walk by it. Passing by the Roth's residence, one usually expect to hear Xander and Sandra horsing around as teenagers. Yet there is only the silence of a pair of parents in mourning.
Morty Roth smoothed out the cover of the Zoom-Zoom bed in his son, Xander Roth's rooｍ. Behind him, a golden figure of an unknown and powerful God seemed to be watching over Morty's every movement behind his back. I have seen this statue when Morty first brought it back from the mountains of Latin America at the Desiderata Pearl headquarter, back when he was still a relic liberator. I have heard that when the statue was first unearthed, many local hires at the excavation site scurried away in fear and refused to continue the excavation work. The locals said that the Gods will bring down curses on those who show them disrespect.
"I brought this home for Xander's fourteen's birthday. Next morning, he looked sickly pale, his eyes were blood-shot, and he complained of the living room being too bright". Morty stared blankly into Xander's bed and murmured, "Xander won't sleep in this bed anymore..." After giving the accursed statue a last glance, Morty continued, "I am going to lock up this room now with the statue, come, Jason, let me make you some tea downstairs."
A week ago, my conversations with Betty Goldstein, Morty's cousin, was cut short by Xander's loud screams of "It BURNS, it BURNS..." from the backyard. All of us ran as fast as we could, yet there were no traces of Xander except a pile of ashes in the backyard. Xander's symptoms prior to his death were very similar to those of Coral Oldie, as reported in a past issue of Pleasant News. Reportedly, Coral Oldie survives sunlight now by sleeping in the coffin during the day.
While waiting for tea, I stood behind Stella who was painting from memory of Xander and Sandra goofing around in the kitchen. "Stella?", I said softly. She did not stop painting to acknowledge my presence. Only after several minutes did she finally broke the silence. "Sandra had just left home for college before this happened. Neither Morty nor I want to be the one to call her and tell her that Sander's gone. I just don't know how to break the news." She continued to paint fervently, letting her sorrows flow through the paint brush - a mother trying to revive his son on a piece of canvas.
My good friend Betty was so distraught by Xander's death that she came down with a cold the following day, and passed away the next day. Her best friend Catherine Viejo followed her footsteps as well less than a month later. Their absences left huge holes in many people's heart.
At the McGreggor farm, Leod McGreggor lameted, "When I visit the local grocery store, I still expect to join Betty at a game of chess, now who is going to play chess with me?" When I told him that I also play, Leod shook his head, "It is just not the same".
His wife, Cleo, was in the kitchen, playing with Eiko, her three-year-old daughter.
"I wish Eiko had a chance to get to know Catherine too. It was Aunt Catherine's invitation that got me to settle down here at the first place. I really should have brought Eiko with me when she hosted the last gathering at the farm house. Yet I am only grateful that aunt had many close friends with her before she passed away. She looked peaceful and content".
Among the Catherine's many friends are Dora Ottomas and his grandson, David Ottomas. Cleo gave me their number for me to interview them on the phone.
"Yes? May I ask who is calling?", a cracked voice came through the receiver.
"Is this Mrs. Dora Ottomas? This is Jason Greenman, I am writing an article about Catherine Viejo. It is for the Riverblossom Farmers Guardian"
"Is that so? Yes, Catherine is a very good friend of mine. She is almost like another grandma to my grandson David. We visited her at Riverblossom many times over the years. We live in the big city. It was wonderful that David got the chance to help out gardening at her farmhouse. We don't even have a backyard at our apartment. David was heartbroken when I told him that Catherine died."
Betty and Catherine left the farmhouse to Jacob Martin, who just turned 26 this year. Betty and Catherine don't have children of their on and treated Jacob, the grandson of their best friends' grandson, as their own. Jacob's father, Andrew Martin moved to Belladonna Cove three years ago. Even though Jacob lost his mother, growing up at the Viejo farm, Jacob was used to big crowds of people visiting. It was almost 8:00 pm by the time I reached the Viejo farmhouse, yet Jacob has not bothered to turn on the lights. He looked dejected, being the only one left in the big, quiet farmhouse:
"The farmhouse feels so big and empty now. Before, Catherine is always on the piano. She played so well. We got closer after Betty died. She taught me how to play, yet I am not sure I can bring myself to play now. My eyes get teary when I press the keys. I miss Betty's cooking... "
Cow Girl on the Loose
- Cleo McGreggor
Because I was from the big city myself, I became the obvious candidate to check on Erin Beaker and Kirsten Loste who moved here from Mandala City three years ago. Walking up the Mountain Pass Road early in the morning, still more than half a mile away from the Mountain Pass Trailer Park, I already spotted Erin galloping down the dirt road on the back of a cow, almost running over Morty Roth who was making his daily morning walk.
"Hey! Watch where you are going!", shouted Morty Roth as he tried to regain his balance after jumping away from the path of the speeding cow girl. As I walked towards Morty, he looked at me and complained, "Sheesh, if Riverbossom isn't so rural, we should have a traffic department to give that girl a speeding ticket."
"Howdie!", Erin greeted me before slowing the cow down and jumping off.
"Howdie!", I returned her greeting in kind. "So it seemed that you have settled in quite well here?"
"I am beginning to really like this place. It was hard in the beginning because I did not know anyone here. Yet I am beginning to meet people." Erin blushed while looking into the distance and continued, "Jacob Martin seemed such a nice guy. He seemed to be very lonely though after your aunt and Ms. Goldstein passed away. Hey I have heard all about how you were a city girl working in the music industry and after falling head over hill for Leod, decided to settle down here. Perhaps I will settle down on a nice farm in Riverblossom as well."
While Erin talked non-stop, unaware of the gossip that Rose Greenman rejected Leod's attempt to kiss her in public, I smiled politely and said, "Leod and I have a three-year old now. Her name is Eika. The secret to maintaining a marriage is to quickly forgive and forget small offenses, his or mine. So you don't miss the big city?"
"When I missed my friends in the city, I would invite them to take a vacation here. I actually did not grow up in the city. I was born and raised in Strange Town. The four of us, Kristen, I, Lola, and Chloe had the dream of making it big as the Singles. Yet Chloe kicked me and Kristen out of the band. I was very angry in the beginning, yet to be honest, I have no talent despite my enthusiasm. On the other hand, you are different, fans in the city still talk about you even though you have retired from the music industry."
I sighed, "They will forget me soon enough. I have switched gear to focus on writing lyrics and novels. Yet Leod bought the local grocery store recently, very soon, I will be too busy running the store and taking care of Eika to write much."
Erin and Kristen indeed have many friends over from Mandala City for visits, including the lead singer Lola of the Singles, who was seen kissing and embracing a male companion she brought along with her. It is a good thing that even paparazzi found Riverblossom too far away to worth the trip.
Just half an hour before I took off, Kristen ran out of their trailer, screaming at the top fo her lungs:
"The lady bugs are crawling all over my bed sheet when I woke up this morning. Why on earth did I decide to come to this place where not even birds would lay eggs?"
Seconds later, realizing that she was standing on top of a pile of cow dungs, Kristen screamed louder, " No I take that back. Why did I move to a place where I have to sidestep cow dungs and chicken poohs all over the place?"
I guess it is natural for Kristen's heart is still at Mandala City. Folks have seen Jason Larson of the Larson Siblings making out with Kristen at the Trailer Park.
It takes a special kind of passion to live in Riverblossom. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have married one with such passion.
To all readers, many of whom I consider my best of friends:
Because of my job promotion, I will be moving out to the headquarter of Mandala Press at Veronaville. It had been a wonderful experience for me to spend seven wonderful years at Riverblossom. I should thank Cleo for dragging me with her all the way out here at the first place. I have taken over the post of chief editor for this issue of Riverblossom Farmers' Guardian temporarily as Stella needs time to grieve over the loss of her son, Xander. She will take over as chief editor again for future of issues. Goodbye, and best wishes to you all.