Friday Feature ~ “Open Country: an allegory”

“Open Country” is one of my stories that I can directly attribute to having a little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. It appeared in Volume II, Issue I of About Place Journal, in May of 2013. This was their “Trees” themed issue. It was my 17th published short story, and I felt I was really on my way.

Clearing cedars is something I do a lot of at my little cabin. The problem with them is that with their oily needles, they can burn hot and transfer a ground fire into the tree tops, which is something I don’t want around my cabin. So whenever I take myself into the forest, I also take a pair of loppers to liberate any small cedars I find from their earthly toil. It’s an endless task, and if I clear one area this year, it will have new cedars growing in it next year. But everyone needs a hobby, right?

I call it an allegory, and I don’t think it’s too hard to see what the cedars in the story can represent to an insightful reader. In just three years, current events showed that the main character’s aversions were commonplace and running rampant throughout the population.

About Place Journal is a publication of The Black Earth Institute, which is an effort by artists and scholars to create a more ethical world.

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