Christmas comes differently to the country.
Threaded around and through twin pieces of rusted rebar that serve as mailbox supports, the shabbiness of the plastic pine garland is apparent only to the mail carrier, or to the woman who trudges in slippers up the lane from her house, hoping against hope to find greetings in her box. From the road the garland appears perfect, full and fresh. From a distance, even plastic communicates the woman’s message: in this house, we celebrate. We mark the season. We share our joy with you, the passer-by.
Farther down the road, a wreath made of vines adorns a gate closed across a cattle guard. Its ribbon flutters in the wind, attracting attention, drawing the eye through the gate and into a pasture. There’s a brush pile and some uncleared mesquite. A few trees, pushed over and left to die, wait to be added to the pile. Despite the cattle guard, no livestock roam. There’s no stock tank, no house or pond - not even a pile of rusted, broken-down machinery. Only a despondent wind sighs through the fence and across the field. (more…)