Here’s a short excerpt from both:
From Tortoise Stew:
Cowan Garcia lived in one of the Victorian homes that graced the tree-lined Main Street of downtown Calloway. The morning after the meeting, he went out on his porch to retrieve The Tribune. He shook his head when he read the headline, and felt sympathy for Kelly Sands. Two weeks ago, his tires were slashed while he was inside city hall picking up a public records request.
He took a deep breath and glanced up and down the street. He wondered how such a beautiful area as Calloway could contain such greed and hostility. He found himself caught up in the negativity and sometimes he responded in worse ways than those with whom he had disagreements.
“Good morning,” yelled Chelsea Godfrey as she rode her bike into Cowan’s front yard. “Thanks for trying last night.”
“Lot of good it did with those scum-sucking morons up there. We’ve got to find the right person to run for the March election against Simmons.”
“Cowan, what is that?” Chelsea pointed to an object lying just a few feet from the front porch steps.
Cowan came down to the yard to inspect. “Damn it all!” He picked up a dead gopher tortoise from the ground and held it out for inspection.
“They were busy last night,” Chelsea said. She indicated the paper Cowan had tucked under his arm. “You saw the bomb story?”
“This is going too far.”
“What are you going to do with it?” Chelsea asked as Cowan headed into the house with his paper. He placed the carcass on the porch. Chelsea followed.
“I’m going to bury it in the front yard and put a tombstone up that reads ‘RIP Gopher Tortoise, Killed by Developers,’ and then I’ll call my favorite reporters and hold a memorial.”
From Trails in the Sand:
Our paddles caressed the water without creating a ripple as we floated by turtles sunning on tree trunks fallen into the river. A great blue heron spread its wings on the banks and lifted its large body into the air, breaking the silence of a warm spring day in north Florida.
The heron led us down the river of our youth stopping to rest when we fell too far behind. The white spider lilies of spring covered the green banks of the Santa Fe River in north Florida.
“Do you remember the spot where we always swam?” my husband Simon asked. “Isn’t it around here?”
“I can’t remember back that far,” I said.
Simon pulled his kayak up alongside mine as a mullet jumped out of the water in front of us and slapped its body back into the water.
“Still the dumbest fish in the river,” I said.
The leaves on the trees were fully green and returned to glory after a tough winter of frosts and freezes. Wild low-growing azalea bushes were completing their blooming cycle, and the dogwoods dropped their white blossoms a month ago. The magnolia flower buds would burst into large white blossoms within a month.
Simon and I missed the peak of spring on the river. However, we finally escaped our work on a warm Tuesday morning in late April.
“I hope things settle down. We should spend all summer on the river,” Simon said.
“Maybe we can get Jodi to come with us when she gets home from Auburn,” I said.
“Don’t count on it. Promise me you won’t be disappointed if she refuses.”
“I wish you wouldn’t be such a pessimist. That upsets me more than anything.”
Simon didn’t respond, which usually happened when I tried to talk about his daughter Jodi.
When we were kids, Simon and I spent many days in an old canoe on this river. Those idyllic days ended when he married my sister Amy. I never forgave Amy, even when she died two years ago. I eventually forgave Simon.
Even though I didn’t miss or mourn my sister, Jodi, my niece, did. She lost a mother she loved and believed Simon and I trampled her mother’s grave when we married nearly a year ago.
“At least winter is over,” Simon said. “Let’s hope for a quiet hurricane season.”