Seeds of the earth
Part 2 of 2
The week of the harvest festival was upon the community of Wilson. Despite the prevailing war, this tradition may have become a bit subdued but not forgotten. The farmers are thankful for the good harvest and the prosperity the industry had been experiencing. The bustle in the Singleton farm is slowing down; they start to prepare for the winter season. This week, they will congregate to celebrate this year's harvest.
Late that Saturday afternoon, Ray and Livy met the Stewarts at the barn. There were chairs lined up in front of a makeshift theater. Hank Jr. and Chester were going to perform with other town children in a local production traditionally held during harvest time. The boys spent weeks practicing their lines and are very excited about the play. There were many townsfolk who were already inside. Ray and Livy found Martha waving at them about three rows behind the front of the stage. She had saved them seats behind her. Ray directed Livy to their seats. Martha is beside herself worried in anticipation of the boys' performance. Hank is in the back helping with the boys' needs. Ray sat behind Martha next to the middle aisle. They all have a good view of the stage. Ray touched Martha's shoulders, silently assuring her that the boys will be just fine.
Ruth, who was sitting in front of Livy, excitedly turned to ask Livy, 'Aunt Livy, did you see my dance performance this morning?'
Livy smiled and replied 'Yes, Ruth, I didn't know you were with the dance group here. 'You danced really well' Ruth was happy that Livy liked it.
Ray looks at Livy, he knows that Livy feels demurely embarrassed when Ruth puts her on a pedestal. Livy was indeed blushing and she turned her eyes on her lap smiling. Ray smiled and moved his right arm behind Livy, drew her towards him and whispered 'I think your opinion means the most to her'. Livy blushed even more.
Right before the play started, a woman came by searching for an empty seat close to where they were sitting. The place was full, many were already standing on the side and in the back walls. Ray tapped the woman's shoulders and offered her his seat. He signals to Livy that he will be close by. Livy nodded.
By the time the play started, the place was packed. It seems like the children's play is highly supported by the town's families and friends. Livy concluded that no wonder Martha was anxiously anticipating the play to get started. She's nervous for the boys.
She glances over to where Ray was standing. He had his arms folded in front of him and was comfortably leaning by the wall with the other people who ran out of seats. He glanced at her, nodded and mouthed an 'are you all right?' question to her. She nods. They both smiled. The woman next to her who got Ray's seat interrupted their silent conversation 'Is that your husband?', Livy says 'Uh, yes ma'am, he is' Livy was not used to being asked that question. 'He's such a fine man to give me his seat' the woman added. Livy nods in agreement 'Thank you', and Livy sits back on her seat as the play started.
During the play, Livy thought about the events of the day. It was such a memorable day to her. She didn't expect this celebration to be what it was. She's missed mingling with people and she enjoyed every minute of it. Livy learned a lot, Ray had showed her many new things. Their day started by going to church and then to the town hall where they usually have potlucks. The tables were placed to the side where the many farmers had their crops on display, most of them traded. Ray didn't have a table but he brought in a few boxes of their crops from the farm to trade. They call this the Harvest Jam. Ray mentioned that maybe next year both of them can participate. For now, they took up checking the many vegetables and fruits from the tables.
Ray had turned his attention to a crowd gathering around one of the tables. He motioned for Livy to come with him. 'Ah, this is the best time to try peaches, Livy' Ray showing her the direction with his hand.
As they approach, Jake Hansen held out a basket, 'Help yourself Ray, picked them myself this morning! Best ones of the season!' the farmer told Ray. Ray squeezes the farmer's shoulder 'Looks good, we'll definitely try it, thank you Jake'.
He takes one and holding it offers a bite to Livy first. Livy felt a little awkward, gives Ray a doubtful look, but at his urging takes a bite from the peach. As soon as she did, the juice drips. Ray catches it with his fingers, laughing with her then, grabs a hanky from his pocket, and offers it to her.
'This is very sweet, Ray, it's really good' as she proceeded to wipe her chin.
'Your turn to taste it' Livy says teasingly. Ray willingly took a hearty bite into the peach. Livy flittingly wiped Ray's mouth with his hanky. She suddenly holds back, blushes and hands the hanky to a smiling Ray.
'I told you.' Ray and Livy suddenly turn their attention when they noticed a little girl eating a peach with gusto, not caring that the juice ran all over her dress. They both chuckled when the girl's Mom sighs in exasperation as she tries to interrupt her eating so she can clean her up.
'I wish it's a little easier to eat, Ray' she smiles. 'That's the fun of it, Livy' Ray smiled back as they finish eating their peach.
Soon after, they went over to where Martha was busy tending to the number of entries to the pie contest. She was going to be one of the judges. It was the first time Livy had seen a pie contest, she enjoyed the care and attention all the contestants put on their pies. It seems fun and Livy planned to master a good recipe by next year.
After a relaxing lunch, they head on outside where there were a few games with prizes. They see Hank with the boys in one of the game stands. Hank had a baseball on his hand and was about to hit a target on the far wall when he spots the couple approaching. He was hitting some but not enough to win something for the boys. Hank calls out 'Hey, Ray, want to try and see if you are better with this?'
Chester runs over to Ray 'Please, Uncle Ray, I wanted that model fighter plane over there but Daddy needs to hit 10 of those'. Livy saw the desperation in Chester when he started to tug at Ray's shirt. Hank hands over the baseball to Ray,
'How many more do you need?' Ray asks Hank.
'Four more but I am running out of those to throw. My target's a little off, it's not as easy as you think, those are pretty far and small, you know.' Ray was rolling the ball in his hand,
'I'll try, but no promises boys'. He positions himself like a pitcher ready to throw a ball. Ray didn't blink and kept his eyes on the target, threw the ball and hit the target square on. The boys were jumping for joy.
'All right!, do it again, Uncle Ray, do it again!' Hank Jr. and Chester were so ecstatic. Livy and Hank were clapping their hands. Livy didn't know Ray could play ball. In a few minutes, Ray had hit the required number of targets, so Chester got his toy plane.
'Thank you, Uncle Ray!' Ray mussed Chester's hair and said 'Anytime, Chester' Ray chuckled, happy that he didn't disappoint him.
Martha's 'Oh!' interrupted Livy's thoughts as Martha turned around to tell Livy that the boys' lengthy dialogue is coming up. She leans forward and sat straighter to get a better view of the boys on stage. Alternately, Ray and Livy makes passing glances at each other. The boys delivered their lines so well and clear that Martha was beaming with pride. After the play, they all stood up to applaud the performers. Hank had peeked from the back of the curtains and lovingly scanned for Martha and waves proudly at her. She eagerly waves back at him, both glad that the boys did very well. Everyone started to leave and Livy strained to see where Ray had gone. He was coming to meet her at her seat.
She and Ray hugged Martha, congratulating her on the boys' performance.
'I am so relieved, Hank Jr. is a little shy and I was worried he would forget his lines, but he was so good tonight. I am so happy.'
Ray and Livy both smiled and nodded in agreement.
'I need to go meet Hank and the boys and see how they are doing at the back. Livy, how are you doing? I'm sorry I didn't get to see you all day. Are you having a good time?' Livy understood, 'Oh, Martha, no worries, it' been a great day. I know you are busy with the kids and the festival.'
'Where are you both headed to?' Martha signing her question through the din of the crowd and added,
'You come by at the house either tonight or Sunday, make sure ok?'
'We'll be around, tell the boys they were brilliant' Ray responded.
'We'll see you later?' Martha was too excited she's talking a mile a minute.
Ray and Livy nodded with a smile.
Martha beckoned Ruth to go with her. 'Bye' both chimed in unison. Ray and Livy waved at them.
Ray and Livy followed the crowd outside. It was a clear evening as they started to take a walk around town. There were many people still walking in the streets.
'Are you tired, Livy? Do you want to call it a day?' Ray asks her as they leisurely walked on the street.
'Only if you want to' Livy replied and added 'I can probably use the walk, the evening is lovely and warm' Ray nodded and they strolled around town. They walked by the town pavilion and saw that most people had gone to listen to the music provided by Slim there. Off to the side of it, there were food and drinks being served. Ray and Livy went to get something to eat and sat on the grassy area in front of the pavilion to watch some of the people who had gone dancing to the music. Slim played a number of fast songs, from the Jukebox Saturday night to Mairzy Doats soon after they started to play the slower songs like 'I'll be seeing you'.
'Livy, care to dance tonight?' Ray hoped that Livy wasn't too tired to say no. Livy glances at him and knew that Ray would never pass a chance to dance. 'Sure, Ray' She smiles.
As soon as the song 'A Lovely Way to Spend the Evening' ended, Ray led Livy to the dance floor and they prepared to dance to the music. Slim and the band decided to play 'There! I've Said It Again'.
Ray took the lead and held Livy slowly around the dance floor. Both felt temporarily a little awkward not having danced to slow music before. Ray had placed his hand on Livy's back, held her right hand on the other and gently stirred her closer to him. They quietly danced to the lovely music. Livy loved the sweet smell of Ray, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment, she can feel Ray's heart beating fast and she smiles. All the things she's learning about Ray is certainly overwhelming her senses. The music and the ambience lends more to that moment. She wondered if she felt too awkward then at Martha's birthday when they danced because she hadn't noticed that Ray is a good dancer as well.
Ray notices that in spite of Livy's pregnancy she still is slim and petite. Her hair had grown long as well as her curls were touching his hand on her back. He loves seeing her with her hair down and how the curls would frame her face, how this made her even prettier. He had noticed that lately she had worn her hair down more often then when she first arrived at the farm. He remembered that she had it all pinned up all the time. Ray feels that she seems to be happier these days.
'Did you have good time today, Livy?' Ray turned to speak close to her ear.
'It was wonderful, I didn't expect it to turn out this way' Livy replied. 'I really thought most folks around here keep to themselves but now I feel the sense of community you all have here, that's good to know Ray.'
'You don't get to see that too often, we work the farm most of the year and harvest time is always the best time. It is usually the time when we have more time to relax and celebrate. The festival is considered a tradition here.'
The song played on and Ray and Livy danced until the song ended and everyone clapped.
They walked back to their truck and they headed home, both recording today's events in their memories.
By the time they reached the house, Livy had fallen asleep. Ray went around the truck to pick up and carry her inside the house. Livy stirred as Ray opened the passenger door. Half-asleep Livy says 'are we home?' and tried her best to get off the truck. Ray held her and said 'I'll carry you upstairs, you are too tired, Livy'. He carried Livy and she tried to protest 'I can walk, Ray'. 'Ssshh' Ray soothingly whispers to her. She was falling in and out of slumber and didn't argue any longer, she was really tired.
Upstairs, Ray laid her down on her bed and slipped off her shoes. He then pulled a blanket over her and tucked her in comfortably. He begins to turn away when Livy whispers 'Thank you for today, Ray' and she fell into deep slumber. 'You are welcome, Livy' Ray smiles as he heads towards the door.
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