Anne bends into the coop to check for eggs. The days are getting shorter and the girls are not laying as much. Her own days are getting shorter too. Time. That free expanse, her friend for so many years, is turning on her now. It's time to get started, she thinks. Her life is rolling by, all prep work and nothing to show for herself.
The last of the kids left a couple of years ago. It took months to resign herself to all of that. Time passes. The rooster bellies up to the edge of the run, stomps his feet and throws his head in the air. He crows. He's loud. He's in full possession of his life. No question about what he has to do today.
Everywhere she looks she sees mountains and low hills turning yellow and orange and red. Every year she paints this, but she's never gotten it right. She signs good morning to the beauty all around her. Her hands speak more freely than her voice. She sometimes wishes that she were born deaf. Less would be expected of her. This she knows well enough. She's been interpreting for deaf kids since high school, back when everyone thought it was either weird or cool.
She's thin and the air has a snap. She draws her sweater around her middle and watches the chickens. She hears her husband Bill come out onto the front porch with his coffee and a thick book. He's a reader, a photographer, the kindest man she has ever known. He doesn't share her angst. He's made of his life what he wanted. No complications there.
Anne walks to him slowly, her back to the mountains, her sweater pockets full of eggs. He smiles, eyes huge behind his reading glasses, and hands her her tea. The book, she now sees, is The Brothers Karamazov. Bill is in a Russian phase. His friend Millicent at the university where he teaches photography allows him to sit in on her classes. Her taste is eclectic. Russians this year, Romantics last year. Bill will read anything. He reads the coffee can every morning.
This is the house Bill grew up in. Or at least the spot where is childhood house used to be. Not much more than a shack when they moved in 30 years ago, the house has improved. Anne did all of that. Bill would have been perfectly happy in the shack, kids and all. Bill doesn't need much, but he does seem to need her. Photographs of her at every stage of adult life fill the rooms. Beautiful photographs, but a constant reminder of time passing. Time moving on.