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The Lost Seed

by Rudi Dornemann

Spring never really showed up when the calendars said it did. By April first, we rarely saw anything but solid-cloud skies and lumps of icy snow all over our frozen mud yards. But the pomegranate made us feel things weren't completely hopeless.

The Mentonville pomegranate wasn't as famous as that groundhog down in Pennsylvania. We'd stand in the sleet on the city hall steps, while the civil witch muttered the spell and the mayor tossed the fruit over our heads.

The pomegranate exploded at the top of its arc, and the seeds would drift, random as fireflies, red as taillights, and scatter.

Our parents would hurry us home to start looking for the seed we knew was somewhere. When we did, sleet would turn to warm rain, mud would thaw, and spring would arrive.

Some families, it took less than a week; for others, nearly a month. Spring came, eventually, to everyone.

Except, one year, for the Ziglars, who didn't seem to be trying at all. The rest of us mowed our lawns for the first time while they were getting their snow shovels back out. The rest of us were swimming down at the oxbow, while the Ziglar kids skated on the flooded patch beyond their backyard.

We all thought they were crazy, but, in the hottest days of August, we paid a quarter to shiver fifteen minutes on the winter side of the fence.

The adults didn't admit the Ziglars were onto something until the leaves started turning, and the Ziglars' lawn finally began to green. It was a long winter for the rest of us, but a balmy summer for them. So it was with a certain satisfaction that we all saw the unfound seed sprout to a whole tree in the waning days of their out-of-sync summer. A whole tree laden with fruit: there was no way the Ziglars were dodging the natural order of things this year.

We were right: when the pomegranate burst downtown, every one on the Ziglar's tree exploded. There was no way they couldn't find a seed. It was spring by sunset, and they didn't see another cloud for months, but roasted in the fiercest drought in memory.

Still, they did OK, their fields yielding more than anyone else's, watered as they were by meltwater from the properties on all sides, where the rest of us were trying the winter thing.


I like the backwards season idea, and then the switch in the second year. A common route to a surprise ending, but it worked for me. Maybe because I was marveling at fruit controlling the seasons instead of vice versa.

Posted by: David | April 1, 2009 12:19 PM

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