Part 1 of 2
As months in the farm passed, Livy's life had become more of a routine. She likes it like this, having plenty of things to do around the house. She's made it a habit of finishing all her chores in the morning and having a relaxing afternoon with a good book to read. At this stage of her pregnancy, a short nap also does wonders to her body.
She steps out to the front porch getting herself ready to sit in one of the benches to read one of the books she had borrowed from a recent trip with Ray to La Junta. She had found a book, one that she has taken to liking, about farming in the Great Plains region. Livy would rather read archeology books but coming across this book at the library had somehow sparked her interest. It was to her an inside look into the life of Ray when he's not home. Until this book, she hadn't an idea what goes on in a farm. Livy now has a new appreciation of what Ray does and can do.
As she sits on the porch bench she comes to gaze at the garden in front of her. She's been gardening in the afternoons after her short naps. It had been a week of Indian summer, giving them a dose of hot weather at this time of year. Livy took advantage of this and had started to plant more seeds in the garden. She wonders if Ray had noticed that the garden had gone through some changes. Livy remembers the day she arrived at this place and how it appeared so desolate and depressing, now she can't wait for the flowers to bloom in the spring.
After a few minutes into her reading, she hears their truck approaching the driveway. She stood up wondering why Ray is home so early in the afternoon. Ray jumps out of the truck carrying a box of goods.
'Did you forget something?' Livy asks Ray.
'No, the harvest is going smoothly, and it's almost done' As Ray climbs the steps to the house. 'Here-' he shows Livy the goodies in the box. 'Some of the other neighboring farms gave us a sampling of their crops'
'That's plenty of food, Ray' remarked Livy
'Usually is, during this time of the year there is an abundance of these' Ray was excited knowing this is Livy's first time to experience the harvest season.
Livy followed him inside the house.
'In fact,' Ray continues, 'there will be a harvest festival where all the farmers come together to show their crops for the year' Ray turns to look at Livy who was standing by the entrance of the kitchen watching him unpack the box.
'Do you mind going to this one with me? - it will be fun, Livy' Ray asked with raised eyebrows.
Livy shrugs 'I guess -- I don't know what goes on there but I guess it's a big thing around here. Sure, Ray, I'll go'
Ray smiles and they both pause. Livy breaks the silence.
'Ray, I could have put those away, you must be busy with the harvest..'
Ray interrupts her 'Oh, no bother. We're done early today and I thought I'd spend the rest of the afternoon with you. I've been wanting to show you this place at the far end of the farm. We can bring something to eat and have a little picnic maybe.'
'Really?' Livy was certainly pleased that Ray had been thinking of her.
'Come on, it's a beautiful day, get ready and we'll go right away' Ray tells her.
Ray had brought her to the far side of the farm. She didn't know this was part of the farm nor realized that it even existed. When she arrived here, all she could see was an endless expanse of open fields. This place is a stark contrast to the usual farm scene she had gotten used to. Ray told her this is at the edge of their property. It runs along a small stream and a thicket of different trees lines the length of it. The stream is the invisible border where their land ends. Livy was taken aback by the site of the fall colors from the trees and shrubs.
'Ray, it's beautiful here' Livy was surprised as she sat next to Ray inside the truck.
Ray had his arms around the wheel straining to look at the trees, he glances at Livy to see the awe on her face. 'I know you'll like this place, Livy. The best time to come here is right now when the leaves had changed.'
'Oh Ray, I don't think I've seen anything like it. The city doesn't have enough trees...thank you for bringing me here' Livy looks at Ray finally.
They get out of the truck and she starts to walk along the stream. The water was clear and the banks dotted with pebbles. Ray took the blanket and basket from the back of the truck and walked with Livy to find a spot to lay them down. It was certainly peaceful here. Livy felt she can stay here and read all day. Ray had spread the blanket in a cozy spot by the stream and gives Livy a hand as she tries to sit on it.
'Are you comfortable?' Ray was concerned that she may not be in her condition.
'Oh yes, thank you' confirmed Livy. Her pregnancy had not been a problem for her at all. Ray steps to her side to sit next to her. He takes his hat off and inhales a good amount of fresh air, smiles at her while he quickly runs a hand through his hair. Livy had become self conscious. Lately his little actions and mannerisms sends her heart fluttering. They stare at the stream, mesmerized by the moving sound of water. Ray picks up some pebbles and starts to throw them at an angle at the stream, making it jump a few times on top of the water.
'When we were younger, our parents used to bring us here for picnics. The trees weren't as plenty then as it is now. There used to be more land next to the stream and we'd have all the space to run and play.' Ray was indeed reminiscing. 'Over there-' He points to a point in the stream 'the water is pretty deep, there used to be a tree that juts out on the side of it and we'd use it to jump into the water'
Livy smiles as she tries to picture the Singleton family at play. Ray had started to talk about his past more often now since that day at the dugout. She certainly enjoys hearing them as her childhood was as different than what he had. In the evenings, they both seem to have endless stories to share. She loves discovering new and interesting things about Ray and his family.
Ray hands her a co'cola and a slice of corn bread that a fellow farmer had given him this morning. A leaf falls on Livy's hair, Ray reaches over to take it off and he hands it over to Livy. Livy turned to look at the different trees behind them.
'It's interesting how many different trees are in this spot. Do you know if any of these were planted by your grandfather?' Livy glances back at Ray.
'I wouldn't know, I just know that these are common to this area' Ray looks up at the canopy of trees. He leans back and holds himself up on one elbow and faces Livy.
'Can you name the tree by looking at the leaves?' Ray, with a one sided smile, asks Livy.
'Uhm..am not very good with trees but I can tell this is from a Red Maple' Livy hands over the leaf to Ray. He smiles at her, 'That's right', confirms Ray.
Livy scanned for some more leaves around them and hands them to Ray. They laid these down on the ground between them and both enjoyed naming the tree where it came from.
After they talked for an hour, Ray got up and extended a hand to Livy. She took his hand and they started to walk down along the stream.
'Did you say earlier that you used to swim here?' Livy notices that the water seems deeper in this area.
'Oh yeah--the water's just right and I bet refreshing when it's this hot' Ray replies.
Ray saw Livy look at him with a mischievous smile. His eyebrows raise as he realizes what she was thinking. 'No, you are not thinking--?'
'Yes! It's so warm out here, it's something we just need' Livy had a big smile 'I know you've been at the farm in that heat, a cool dip will definitely be a refreshing thing for you too.'
Livy proceeded to check the water with her feet. Ray was reluctant and reached out to hold her elbow. 'May not be a good idea, Livy'
'Oh please, Ray, I promise to be extra careful. Well, you have to come with me and we won't be too long' Livy was very persuasive.
'Turn around' Livy tells Ray.
Ray's hands were in front of him trying to reason with Livy-'How will you get in the water?'
'I can do it Ray, turn around please, you can follow after I'm in' Livy insisted.
Ray sighs hard -'All right, just make sure you keep talking, so I know you are okay'. He turns around. Livy takes off her pink wrap around dress and gets in the water in her camisole all the while talking to Ray to ease his worry. 'I'm in, your turn' Livy calls out to Ray.
Ray turns around and he sees Livy in shoulder deep water. She's having fun. He laughs. 'Water feels good and is just right, Ray. Hurry in' Livy says.
Ray starts to unbutton his shirt and takes it off then drops it next to Livy's dress and proceeded to unzip his pants. Now it's Livy's turn to turn around. Livy keeps talking, quite nervously. She didn't think this far enough. Ray swims towards her and taps her on the shoulder and she turns around. He splashes some water on her face. Livy squeals in surprise. She does the same to Ray. They had a great time playing in the water. Ray made sure she was holding on to his arm all the time. Ray enjoyed watching Livy , she is more beautiful when she's carefree and laughing. He also noted that this was the first time he's seen her squeal in delight. Ray feels so blessed to have Livy in his life right now.
Back at where they had sat, Ray took the blanket and wrapped it around Livy. Ray had donned all his clothes back and was dripping wet still. He stooped to take the basket and they headed back to the truck.
Ray checks on Livy 'Are you okay, Livy? You are not cold are you?'
'No, Ray, I am just fine. How about you, Ray?' I think we should share the blanket.'
'Oh, it's all yours, we'll be in the house in no time'
Livy suddenly stops walking, she smiles. 'Is something the matter, Livy?' a worried look registers on Ray's face.
'Oh, the baby just moved -- here --' she reaches out for Ray's hand and places it on the spot where he can feel it. '-before it goes away'. She turned quiet, waiting for it to happen again 'There, did you feel that, Ray?' Ray's eyes were wide, his mouth open 'Yes! That was a strong kick' They both laugh, Ray kept his hand on Livy's belly, amazed at what he had just experienced.
'The baby says thank you, Ray, he/she had a good time' They both smiled at each other. Ray takes his hand off and his face flushed from the compliment.
Livy reaches out to Ray 'Ray, thank you for this, I had a great time too.'
'My pleasure Livy. We should do this more often. Well, we'll plan the swimming part better next time' Ray smiles back at Livy and they get in the truck and headed home.
Harvest festival--to be continued...
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