Well, another Sunday come and gone. It wasn’t like those Sundays in the past, when Joe was still around. But it was a good day in its own way. Esther took the children out in the woods where they gathered a basketful of poke weed, pulled some wild onions, and found a good berry patch where lots of the berries were bigger than Esther’s thumb, big and juicy, just right for eatin’ fresh with enough to make a nice cobbler too. The kids sure did enjoy that.
She showed ’em the elderberry bushes, not quite ripe yet, but loaded with flowers that would soon become berries. They’d have to fight the birds for ’em, but it’d be worth it. Looks like they’ll be able to get plenty for jelly later on. They also walked under several persimmon trees. The tiny fruit on those trees wouldn’t be ripe until fall, but it sure did look like there would be lots of it. They all had a good laugh when Joey told the younger kids about him eating a green persimmon one time…wooeee, if that don’t make you pucker, nothin’ will.
While they were out in the woods, Esther smelled an old ripe cucumber smell. She knew what that meant and knew it was up to her to teach her kids what it meant too. She told ’em all to stand still, right where they were at. Then she asked ’em if they could smell it. When they all figured they could, she told ’em what that meant out there in the middle of the woods. Nothin’ to be too scared of, no need to take off runnin’, just be sure to notice it and keep still. When ya smell that old cucumber smell out in the woods or fields, it means there’s a copperhead around abouts somewhere. Usually a copperhead will be more scared of you than you are of him. Just stay still and give him time to get away from ya and you’ll be okay.
Later that evening, after the kids were in bed, Esther was sitting at the kitchen table remembering the day. She was thinkin’ about how the children all paid attention to what she’d told ’em and that now they all knew what to do when a copperhead was around. Yep, Joe, trying my best to teach our kids what they need to know to get along in this old world. Sure do wish you was here with me. Every kid needs a daddy, that’s for sure. But I’ll do the best I can to be momma and daddy both to these kids. I sure do miss you, Joe. Miss sittin’ here talkin’ about the day after all the work is done and the kids are down for the night. Miss yer quiet laugh when one of the children did somethin’ funny. Miss sharin’ the work with ya, and the good times too. Oh Joe, why? Why’d ya have to go and die on me? Sometimes I just don’t know if I can do this without ya, but…I know I have to…if you can hear me, Joe, just know I still love ya, we all do. And I’m doin’ the best I can.
Esther leaned over the table and blew out the candle. Wiping a tear from her cheek, she slowly made her way to her empty bed.