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LAce Posted Monday, December 25th, 2006
Golden Years
Ann Walters

Grandma wears petty pants and a clean apron when she wades into the river. She is eighty-three – she doesn’t want to get her skirt wet.

Along the point bar, the sand grades from coarse pebbles to the fine black grains that signal gold, and gold is what Grandma is after. She scoops river bottom into her pan and lets the water carry away the light stuff, then lifts it and begins to swirl with a rhythm that is almost as hypnotic as the shuffle of cards around a table at midnight.

Grandma likes a good game of chance. She likes a game of skill even better. Tiny waves of water slosh over the side as she rolls her wrists, pulling the lighter sand along and leaving a small crescent of black minerals too heavy to fall for such a trick. Grandma tilts the pan to search for a glint of gold, dredges with a finger for nuggets, coughs once, and starts over.

Even though it’s July and as hot as midsummer can get, the river is cold enough to raise goosebumps on Grandma’s calves. Beneath the water her bare feet are two pale fish resting in the shallows. She digs her toes into the sand. Her fine hair is put up with at least a dozen bobby pins that dangle lower every time she bends to fill her pan. Scoop, rinse, swish, swirl, poke. The motions are as smooth as cleaning a fish or kneading a loaf of bread, as effortless as diapering a baby’s bottom. Grandma squints into the pan as if she were reading tea leaves, but she doesn’t believe in foretelling the future. To her, tomorrow is as fluid as the river, the past as solid as the small chunks of gold weighting her apron pocket.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Ashley Minihan on Monday, December 25th, 2006 at 10:27 AM
Nice imagery! I feel like I know this character well, even though I've only read a few paragraphs.

Posted by Nonnie Augustine on Monday, December 25th, 2006 at 10:47 AM
Your writing is as smooth as Grandma's motions, and clear as the river water. Thanks for a lovely read. Nonnie

Posted by Anne Bauer on Tuesday, December 26th, 2006 at 9:48 AM
An amazing flash . . . I love Grandma!

Posted by Patricia Parkinson on Wednesday, December 27th, 2006 at 10:33 PM
wondeful work, as always, all the best to you and your family..xoxox Happy Happy..xo

Posted by Saleh Razzouk [ salehrazzouk@hotmail.com ] on Thursday, December 28th, 2006 at 2:47 AM
Beautiful as a flash, handsome as a story, and moving as being a poem. Saleh Razzouk



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