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The Alchemist This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

10:55 AM I am standing in the middle of this field, looking for a flower or a rock or some glory of Nature to ponder about. But the only things here are the weeds that man’s construction left behind.

11:00 AM The path that leads to the meadows is brushed by the lightest cattails and strewn by wood-chips. The air picks up on this open field, and whooshes towards the sky.

11:07 AM: I am venturing past the bamboo that shouldn’t be growing in New Jersey. I could write about these sorry stalks, but the darkness beyond them and what it holds is frightening. Perhaps this why they do not let us out here alone.

11:09 “Have you found anything?”
“No. Have you?”
“No! I might as well write about the wood-chips.”
“I think I might write about this tree.”
“Spectacular. The grass is looking awfully green today. Might make a nice poem.”

11:15 AM I have found a patch of cotton bulbs! They murmur softly against the breeze, and stick up from the grumbling red brier. I stumble closer to them, watching their seeds hasten away rapidly. Watching the preening thorns, I snatch three stalks, and greedily stare at the white fluff.
Like the bamboo, I wondered if they were cotton out of place. In the harsh spikes, they were as soft as only things in open air can become. It was like sheep’s wool touched by lightning.
But at the simplest touch, each flower came undone, and the seeds hastened away even faster. In frustration, I threw the cotton things to the ground, and scribbled in my writer’s notebook, “Can’t have your cake and eat it too.” I plopped to the damp grass, and stared at the fickle plants. Each ball was a tuft of white, crowned by seeds, and enthroned on flimsy stems.
Were we supposed to hold them? Were these tantalizing cotton flowers crafted to be pinched and pulled by beasts? With great abandon, they lolled on the ground, and caught the latest wind to anywhere. If they had souls, they would be off to a new adventure every minute.

After having scraped through the meadow and encountered a perfect idea for germination, I stubbornly plucked at the flowers: each time, they danced just an inch away from my fingers, saying “No, not for humans today.” Peering through the thorns, you could see little bulbs peek up into the sunlight in the wake of departure. The summer wind gently nestled them, it’s time to awaken.

11:something: I contented myself to sit prone under the clouds and between the dance of flower and wind. Observe. A chorus of ants and millipedes and spiders sang around my feet, and I batted absent-mindedly at them. Maybe it’s the pollen, or something funny in the air, but something always gets you thinking in nature. It’s that infinite stupor, a rabbit hole to instincts from time immemorial. I had long since let go of those cotton flowers, and watched them scatter. I had come for gold and left instead with the silver lining of releasing something to the wind.



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