My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature. - Claude Monet
The woods ranged high into the mountains, a fern green cover which draped valleys, and covered tracks into the infinite growth. During the early hours of the morning when the sun was still shy, the woods were wreathed in mists which lingered, eventually forming fine crystals which sparkled on the emerald foliage.
It was a mystical world of beauty and cruelty in equal measure. Animals knew the joy of their young, only to have them perish at nature’s whim. Yet, there was also order. A divine structure, which saw a balance of good and evil. Life and death lived here as neighbors in an eternal dance which had lasted since time began.
There was no question of morality, life simply was. Man had not yet disturbed the delicate truce between the eternal powers of life and death. The soil had never known the violation of ploughs or the demarcation of fences. Here, peace reigned in the absence of man and his need to own. The woods, deep and ancient had remained free from humans, except for one.
Boots and Burgers
“What makes this place different?” Jade asked.
“It’s not a shop. It’s family. On my mom’s side.” He led the way to the store where delicious aromas assaulted her and set her mouth to watering. Simon bantered with the serving staff and shook hands, while the chef, a large brute of a man, came out and picked him up in a huge bear hug. Eventually, Simon ordered them burgers, chips, and root beers.
Moving back outside Simon helped her climb onto the bonnet of his truck before settling in next to her. For a moment they looked out over the city which stretched from horizon to horizon below the bluff where they were parked. Taking the huge burger in her small hand she looked at it with some concern. Jade didn’t have any idea how she was going to fit it into her tiny mouth.
Simon laughed when he saw her perturbed expression and taking a pocket knife from his jeans, he held out his hand for her burger. She handed it to him and he swiftly quartered it, mumbling all the while, “This is a sin, I’m sure.” She looked at him quizzically and he explained, “Cutting a burger. Definitely a sin. Sure I’m going to make it to at least level six of hell!”
“I’m sure Dante will forgive you.” She laughed, took a juicy bite from the burger and, groaning with appreciation, she couldn’t help exclaiming around a mouthful of food, “It’s good!”
They enjoyed the magnificent view for several peaceful minutes. It was a clear day and Jade could see to the furthest horizons, it took her breath away and gave her a sense of hope. This was something which she had not recently enjoyed, as her future had seemed to be out of her hands.
“Gosh, it certainly is beautiful!” she said sighing happily. She was so enraptured with the view that she had not noticed that Simon was looking at her with watery eyes. He did not bother looking out at the view, it had been empty for too long where he was concerned.
“Yes, it is a beautiful sight,” he said softly, never taking his eyes off her.
Jade turned her head at his soft voice and blushed suddenly when she saw him looking at her, his gaze quickened her pulse and strangely drowned all sounds from the outside world. All that mattered in this moment was sitting here next to him, the tall cowboy who had within a few days become the center of her world.