Christmas comes differently to the country.
Twisted and threaded around and through twin pieces of rusted rebar that serve as mailbox supports, the plastic pine garland is older than several of the children who tumble from the school bus. Still, its shabbiness is apparent only to the mail carrier, or to the slippered woman trudging down 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 determination and joy pulsing in the woman’s heart. In this house, she thinks, we will celebrate. We will mark the season. We will share our joy with you, the passer-by.
Farther down the road, a wreath made of vines adorns a gate propped against a fence. Its ribbon flutters in the wind, attracting attention, drawing the eye over 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. No cattle roam, no stock tank or pond offers refreshment – not even a piece of rusted, broken-down machinery resists the despondent wind sighing across the field. Continue reading