Claudia could see clouds coming in from the west and felt the wind pick up, carrying aloft the rusty red clay particulate from the very earth under her feet; she could taste it, even, feel it in her teeth. The clay left orange stains in everything; she thought about that now as she unclipped clothing from the line with more urgency than before, removing one wood pin and then another and plunking them into her voluminous apron pocket, folding clean shirts and trousers into loose quarters and then dropping them into the basket. A little further down the hill she watched Cecil struggling with a buckle on the mule’s harness; he stopped to remove a pair of small wire spectacles from his nose and wipe them on one untucked shirttail before he resumed his task. The children were close to the river, but Claudia caught snippets of their laughter from all the way up here on the bluff. At that instant she felt a cold droplet on her cheek and a caught a bright flash of light in the sky, the air supercharged all around her. Cecil’s baritone voice sounded so small now in the wind: Cecily! Andy! Cesssss-ily! Annnn-dy! Claudia dropped the laundry basket just inside the door and trotted back out and down the hill; her skirt billowed in the wind and she lifted her hand to her brow, shielding her eyes against the rain. A brilliant green bolt of lightning ripped a hole in the atmosphere as the children ran up the hill towards her, through the rows of daffodils; she could see now that they each clutched bunches of the yellow blooms in their small hands. They were out of breath but still laughing when Claudia ushered the young pair into the safety of the cottage, chiding them for dipping into the family’s cash crop. The daffodils didn’t seem to mind the red clay at all.