Botanizing, flash fiction by Jim Bates at
Simone Vom Feld



written by: Jim Bates


They were two brothers exploring hills and fields, breathing the rarefied air and escaping for a time the noise and grime of the city, looking for something deeper, more meaningful.

They’d walk through deep woods, cool and green in the first light of early morning dawn. They’d tromp across warm meadows fragrant with wildflowers in the mid-afternoon, sun bright on their young eyes. They’d sit on a high bluff at sunset and watch the last light of the day fade from the sky suddenly orange and purple as if touched by a magician’s wand. Then they’d watch the stars pop out one by one until it was time to go home.

No matter where they were in their wanderings they’d stop along the way, their field guidebook handy, identifying what they observed: meadow rue and sweet cicely, white daisy and prairie blue stem. And his brother’s favorite, wild rose. They called it “botanizing,” taking time to step away from the hectic pace of life and to commune with a wilder place out in the fields among the white aster and fragrant bergamot, the purple milkweed and blazing star. A place where more and more they felt at home. They’d stroll happily along united in their love of the natural world, and the beauty they saw and shared there every time they went. They were kindred spirits in wildness, sharing their passion for Nature’s gifts. Friends more than brothers. Soul mates in the awe of wonder.

When the older brother died unexpectedly his younger brother took his ashes and scattered them along one of their favorite walking trails, a secluded path along the edge of a forest and a wildflower meadow. He scattered the ashes and let the wind carry them away. He looked to the sky, blue and austere, and imagined his brother up there looking down upon the meadows and woods he loved. “Goodbye, my friend,” he whispered. “I’ll miss you more than I can say.”

He heard no comforting words, but that was okay. He knew his brother was out there somewhere. Everywhere he looked he saw images of him: in the shimmering leaves of an aspen tree and the bright colors of a blue aster. On the wings of a hawk soaring and the song of a meadowlark singing. Everywhere he looked, he saw his brother.

Though heartbroken at the loss, he knew life would go on. It’s what his brother would have wanted.

He continued walking. Nearby was a late-blooming wild rose. He plucked it and stuck it to his hat and walked on. It was his brother’s favorite wildflower. Now it was his. He smiled. It was good to have him so near.

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