The Straw Hat

by Sylvia Skrmetta

The Straw Hat The sun was smiling brightly as a hodgepodge of birds helped themselves to the feast of insects and worms freshly uprooted from their winter refuge.

The battered and worn straw hat shadowed the old man’s grin. An audible grunt passed his lips as his mud-crusted boot pushed against his rusty spade, and a fresh mound of earth was turned upside down and inside out.

His progress was slow but steady. There was a time he could have dug his entire garden up in a couple of hours, but now he knew it would take him days.

He had sat too long waiting for winter to end and contemplating the “winter of his life.” For him, there would never be another spring; his youth was long gone. He often walked through his neglected garden and grieved for the losses in his life, and the lifeless shell he had become.

This day the old shed had beckoned him. He hadn’t been there since his wife had died. “Leave those filthy, dirty boots in the shed, Honey,” she had laughed as she barraged him with orders. “And leave that stinky hat too!”

The “stinky” straw hat still hung on the nail where he had left it. It felt at home on his head, as did the mud-crusted old boots on his feet. He felt something stir within him as he held his trusty spade to his breast. He stepped into the sunshine and whispered, “It’s time, Mary.”

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