Image courtesy of the Henri de Troulouse-Lautrec Foundation
Painting entitled: A Laborer At Celeyran
Shared under the Creative Commons attribution
Wearily, the old man sat down on the rock. Spring flowers surrounded him, blooms created by the spring rains. Before him the rains combined with melting snow from the distant mountains had swelled the creek to a full swirling torrent of mud, sticks and foam. His nomadic family barely made it across with their herds. Everyone except for him.
He had made the journey more times than he could count. The miles embedding agony into his legs .. knees ... ankles ... hips, screaming all his years at him, whimpering the distance from the winter lowlands to the summer mountain pastures.
Three creeks they had already crossed in their long journey to green grass. Sweetwater, Yellow River, Narrow Ford. Four more waterways lay ahead. This creek his family named Abandon.
When they had to leave his mother behind, unable to carry her across all those years ago, he had watched her go to a bare rock. Maybe even this one. There she sat. He had looked over his shoulder a dozen times until too many hills were between them. She never moved.
His father, left behind a handful of years later **screamed** at them and kept trying to splash across, until the waters swept him away. As the strongest male, he had been too busy trying to keep youngest, humans and herd, from drowning.
He vaguely remembered when his grandparents no longer could make the journey.
At least he hadn't needed to leave Jacomina behind. She died from the cough many winters ago, her bones in the mound.
The dog worried him. Most of the dogs stayed with the family, but BlackFoot stayed behind. The dog wore a track between the waters where everyone crossed and where the old man was sitting. Eventually it sat beside him on the rock and put its head into his lap, whining. He petted its head.
No one looked back as they walked over the hills. Not that he could see. Nodding once the last of the animals crested the hill, the old man stood and began to look for shelter. He knew he wouldn't last until the winter return, but the dog needed caring. A den of some sort. More rains were coming.
(words 370 - first published 4/17/2016)