Strangeness and Clouds

There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.

Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings.

Along the roads, wildflowers delighted the traveler’s eye through all of the year. Even in the winter the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seen heads of the dried weeds rising about the snow. Others came to fish the streams, which flowed clean and cold out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay. So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their houses, sank their wells, and built their barns.

Everything suddenly began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community. Flocks of chickens for sick and died. The cattle and sheep also died. Everywhere was the shadow of death. There was a strange stillness. The bird had gone. It was a spring without voices. Silence lay over the fields.

This town does not really exist, but it might have easily have a thousand counterparts in America or somewhere else in the world. I know of no community that has had all the misfortunes I describe.

A grim specter has easily become a stark reality.