About twice a month five Colorado women meet at someone's home, drink tea or coffee, eat a little something and talk at random. Gradually a topic develops, an idea or an experience that gels and becomes the "assignment" for twenty minutes of free writing. These women call themselves Pentangles, for the five pointed star that has been a symbol of many things, for these five the connections among them. By now you have surmised that I am one of these women. And here is part of what came from yesterday's prompt, an appeal for each of us to write something using as much specificity as we could. Here--lightly edited--is my offering for Ellen, Marcia, Dianne and Bonnie (who could not be with us yesterday).
Shining green beetle wings hang from Dianne's ears, match each other and the lush jungle of her blouse, bringing a bit of South America to Ellen's Colorado kitchen. Instead of beetle song, I hear the teakettle rattle and the drone of yet another P3 firefighting plane headed for the Fourmile Canyon wildfire with a load of sticky red slurry. What comfort is there for the people of Boulder County evacuated from their homes, not able to sit at a sturdy table, sip tea sweetened with honey, and write for the pleasure of it? For some, their houses burned, their tables have been shrunk to black ash, stinking and smoldering.
The beetle wings, jeweled and iridescent, are a luxury in a smoky world, a momentary relief from thinking about fire and the fear that any home may one day disappear, that this welcoming house could fall in on itself, taking with it cherished books and paintings. That a bright red and yellow child's lawn chair could melt in fierce heat. There--another plane, fading, until all I hear is the scratch of pen and pencils on paper, the fragile, exquisite safety of this group, four women free to write, one of us wearing beetle-wing earrings.