In a remote field of faded stubble, buried deep in the woods, I had almost crossed to the other side when two young women stepped out in front of me. I pulled up short, but they just stood there next to each other. Both wore a lacy white sun dress and no shoes. They seemed identical, except one had a tattoo on the top of her thigh, peeking from beneath the hem of her dress.
Each held a large section of tree bark in front of their faces.
In the silence, a cricket chirped nearby. When I tried to walk around, they shuffled to remain in my path. Dust rose from crackling stubble, drifting aside on a faint breeze.
I swallowed down the taste of earth. “May I pass?”
The one lacking tattoos motioned with an open hand. “Our field lies uncultivated. Won’t you contribute some seeds for the planting?”
I had no seeds with me, but I had eaten from a wild strawberry bush back the way I’d come. Trekking back beyond the field, I plucked a strabwerry and brought it back. Squeezing it to a red pulp, I picked out the seeds and placed them into the free hand of the tattooed one.
“And some water to help them grow?” said the first.
Uncapping my water bottle, I splashed some over the seeds. They floated in the water cupped in the woman’s hand.
“And a place to plant them?”
Crouching, I dug into the dirt at the woman’s feet, scooping out a fist sized hollow. The tattooed one knelt and poured the water and seeds inside. I closed up the hole with dirt scraped back over and a little green sprig sprang up.
The two women stepped apart and I nodded to each as I passed between them.
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