Thanks to Gloria and April for insightful comments

And to Eric Swedin for encouragement

* * *

Courage is the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guaranties all the others.”

- - Winston Churchill - -

* * *

Saturday morning. . . .

Maggie stood in the kitchen and looked across her coffee cup toward the flower garden outside the window. She sipped her favorite coffee, from her favorite cup, in her favorite spot. What a great way to start the day. Beyond the side yard was the real object of her gaze - the unending row of tall eucalyptus trees which lined the east side of the road that ran by her house. Their leaves rustled in the breeze that blew in gently from the sea a mile down the road. Rays of morning sunlight streamed through the trees, proclaiming the beginning of a beautiful new day.

To the right, down the road a half mile was a small white farm house with clapboard siding and a weathered roof. Beyond that, dozens of rows of young string bean plants, strewn across brown soil in never-ending stripes of green, curved softly over a distant hill and out of sight. As she looked out the window, she could see the small patch of weeds and sand not far down the road that interrupted the beauty of the scene. In its midst, the top of a concrete access duct to an old storm drain protruded a few inches above the ground. The shaft, about two feet across, was covered, but was badly worn. It rose up through the middle of a square area about twelve feet on each side, and was divided from the rest of the field by a sagging chain link fence. The county kept the small area clean and trimmed, but it just seemed out of place.

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