It was once again harvest time on the land. Antonio loved harvest time. He enjoyed loading the wheel barrels with all the fresh produce they had grown. This year he started with the pumpkins, then he moved on to the cabbages. Frances picked tomatoes and grapes from the vine. Antonio wouldn’t let him do anything too strenuous. Since Ruth passed Frances seemed to grow more distant and weaker. Antonio knew it had to be hard for him, because he missed Ruth too. During this time Ruth would be running around instructing them on what to do. She would have all the mason jar sterilized and lined up in the kitchen ready for canning. Antonio loved to watch her make peach preserves, she took such care with each step. It was an art for her. Ruth would always save some fruit back and make pies for him and Frances to eat and she also made some to give away to their neighbors down the road.
Chowder was getting old. He used to be more involved in the harvest gathering. There was a time when Antonio would hook the wagon up to the horses to pull the heavy loads of picked produce, Chowder would run in behind them barking and wagging his tail. Antonio liked to think he was cheering them on. Now a day, Chowder just lay in his favorite spot near the front steps. He positioned himself so the sun warmed his face and the rest of his body was in the shade. Antonio knew he was near the end of his days. Though Chowder laid around more he still accompanied Frances and Antonio to the market to sell the produce.
Frances did his best gathering those tomatoes. One by one he picked the red globes from the vines and placed them into the basket. Antonio had done a good job that spring planting, the harvest was bountiful. The sun was warm on the back of his neck as he stood hunched over in the field but his heart was somewhat cold. He would never tell Antonio this but he was upset about Ruth leaving him. He knew it wasn’t her fault but he still missed her so. He often thought how hard it was for Antonio to deal with the loss of his parents and then not be able to live with his sister. He needed to be strong for now, for Antonio. He and Ruth shared many memories on that land he thought filling the last basket.
When the evening came Frances and Antonio surrendered from the work and sat on the front porch in their rocking chairs. Antonio got them a cold drink of apple cider and they sipped and rocked their tired bodies. Frances broke the long silence as they both just gazed across the land. The evening sun made the land glow with hues of reds, yellows, oranges and browns. It was the perfect picture.
“I saw Ruth today in the barn,” said Frances.
Antonio stopped rocking to look directly at Frances. He didn’t know exactly what to say but he knew he needed to be gentle. “I miss Ruth too, but she’s not here Frances.”
Frances wouldn’t hear of it and kept talking. “I saw her. She was gathering the baskets and she was happy and beautiful as the day I married her. I want to be with her Antonio.”
Antonio started to speak, but Frances touched his hand to silence him. “I’m not crazy son. I saw her and one day all of what I have will be yours. You have grown in skill and wisdom. I know Ruth loved you just like she birthed you herself. I’m not leaving yet, but soon son.”
Antonio sat back in his chair and stared in silence off in the distance. The view was blurry now as the tears filled his eyes. Frances taught him so much, yet he felt there was more to learn about carrying on the legacy he was given. They both rocked in silence, deep in thought about what was to become of their life.