Writing 101 – Death to Adverbs

Today’s challenge: Go to a public place and write a detailed account of what you see. The twist – no adverbs allowed!

A warm breeze caresses me, temperatures have started to go down in this part of Florida – the oppressive heat and humidity of summer will soon be a memory. Dragonflies flit at the water’s edge, dipping down to the surface. A quick touch, and then, back into the air; back and forth, flying knitting needles, weaving the fabric of another day.

So many birds in this place, I wish I knew more of your names. Many are dozing under the trees, hoarding their patch of shade. A few call to each other from among the branches. Several larger birds, white, gleaming white with black tipped wings argue among themselves, quarreling over who gets to stay on the bench.  Preening and cleaning, using their long curved bright orange bills. Their bills look like some medieval instrument of torture; they use them constantly ruffling and then smoothing their feathers.

There are other large, white birds in this place, stocky, sturdy with long, thin legs. They maintain their distance, aloof. Their chins tucked down into their bodies, by turns, grumpy and judgmental, too superior and mature to join in silly bird arguments. Large heads, dusty black with elongated black beaks; the beaks curve downward, like scimitars, cruel, efficient at finding dinner in the murky water. Bald, nasty looking birds, there are no feathers on their heads, only black skin, coarse, leathery skin, like old men who have spent too much time baking themselves in the hot, Florida sunshine.

Short round brown birds, their heads are so tiny in relation to their brown bodies. Suede-like feathers, they look so soft with their plump little bodies balanced on their short and tiny birdie legs. They move to and fro, pecking at the ground. What are they looking for?

Squirrels, tree rats, I hate them – they are too bold, not afraid to come close looking for crumbs and bits. Their rodent faces disgust and terrify me, grey tails twitching, flicking, some secret message I don’t understand. They inch their way closer and closer, sniffing the air, hoping for a crust of bread, a squirrel-y treat. I see menace in those flat black eyes – dead, shark-like eyes – get away from me!

Only a few walkers are out in the heat of the day, striding with determination around the small lake. Arms swinging, feet flashing by in their colorful sneakers, dedicated to burning off the calories, becoming “heart-healthy”. My favorites are the residents of the nearby “mature adult community”; ladies chattering, louder than the birds, sharing the latest gossip in their brightly colored outfits. Their workout costumes always match, bright colored jackets and pants, carefully chosen for this semi-tropical area. Turquoise, pink, sneakers match too! Make sure you wear your hat, must be a large-brimmed hat, love the warmth but avoid the sun, fearing carcinoma, melanoma, the dangers and perils of modern life. A few “working people”, easily recognizable in the dress shirts, long, sharply creased pants, shiny shoes.   A few minutes respite from the artificial indoor air, the telephone, the questions, the quotas, the computer screen. Got to see something real, something green, eat my lunch in peace.

“Mommy, Mommy!” her cries pierce the air, desperate, panicking. A frantic search for the source of the cries, my eyes pan and scan the water’s edge. What is happening? Then, I see her, dangling, arms stretched to the breaking point, feet kicking. She hangs from a bar over in the playground. She climbed her way out, just one more inch, one more inch and now, her feet dangle too far from the ground for her comfort. Mommy scurries into view, in full super-hero rescuer mode. Mom throws her arm around the girl’s tiny waist, “Don’t worry, I have you now”. Mommy does it again! Thank God for mommies!

The water moves in the gentle wind; a single small bird glides across the surface and into view.  The motion here is constant, but the sense of peace, of calm is pervasive.

A small park, in a small town, on a sunny day, in the middle of an afternoon.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

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