In the summer she gardened and hung the washing on the line; in the autumn she raked leaves and baked; in the winter she shoveled snow and made candy. All spring she drummed her fingers on the windowsills, waiting for the time to put in the annuals.

The Used World by Haven Kimmel

She looked out the large picture window… and saw the heavy sky, the absence of a single bird on the telephone line. She knew, as everyone from the Midwest knows, that if she stepped outside she would be struck by a far-reaching silence. In the springtime of her childhood it hadn’t been the green skies or the sudden stillness that would finally cause her mother to throw open the doors and windows, grab Rebekah’s hand, and pull her down the stairs to the basement: it was that absence of birdsong, of crickets, of spring peepers that meant a twister was on the way.

The Used World by Haven Kimmel

I finished knotting my tie and went over to look out the window. A robin was parading around the lawn. The grass, still wet from the sprinkler, sparkled in the sunlight. The petunias in my mother’s flower bed smelled sweet; their pink and red and white petals ruffled in the breeze.

— from The Bright Forever by Lee Martin