Franny cannot recall the last day without wind, at this point. The weather has been variable: sun, clouds, rain, thunder, more sun.
The only constant has been the wind. She knows, by reading her journal, how the wind nearly blew her off course her first spring in this town. She remembers that, and in her memory, that spring pales in comparison to this one.
It’s as if the wind is trying to blow them away, one by one, to reclaim its valley for itself.
Or, perhaps, it’s trying to blow them all clean.
Finally, one early summer morning, she wakes to sunlight streaming in her window and something new.
She hears the birds, she hears a car or two, she hears a train rumble, she hears the murmur of sprinklers and voices.
But she does not hear the roars and whistles that have been the soundtrack of life on Pine Street for the last weeks.
Franny pulls on jeans and a sweatshirt, grabs her hat and keys, heads outside.
Takes a deep breath.
Enjoys the sensation of sun on her back, and the absence of wind on her face.
She walks up one block, down another, across a third, now the other way.
The air smells like honeysuckle and damp grass. It is soft, cool, full of promise.
It doesn’t take long. As the sun rises and warms the air, the trees stir. Franny knows what will come, soon enough, and she reluctantly turns for home.
Approaching her building, the air pushing her from behind, she allows tears to flow. She grieves the loss of Penelope, the loss of normalcy, the loss of the community’s sense of thriving. She grieves for those who are not working, for those who have to work, for those whose lives will never return to anything like “before.”
And there is something else in her tears, as the trees wave their branches, an athletic feat of flexibility.
Within her grief she recognizes the seed of hope, splitting open, a small green thing beginning to rise.