The Crossing

My brother announced after dinner that he was going to walk to the woods on our farm’s back forty. I excitedly begged, “Take me with you! Please? I promise to keep up.” Being nine-years-old, I no longer needed to be carried home as I did when I was five.

Moments later, equipped with apples to munch on, we left the muddy cow yard and turned down the cow lane. Wide enough for a tractor and farm wagon, this long narrow fenced area served as an alley for cows who wanted to go from the barn on our front forty acres to the woodlot on the back forty. A lush corn-field bordered the fence on one side and an oat field on the other.

I stopped to admire the yellow flowers of a tall, fuzzy-leafed mullein gently swaying in the breeze next to one of the fence posts. A red-winged black-bird swooped low overhead, scolding excitedly. My brother explained, “He has a nest nearby and doesn’t like how close we are. Let’s move on!”

I ducked and ran, swatting the air overhead in case the crazed bird tried to peck me. By the time we were several yards away, the bird had calmed down.

When we crested the hill, we saw the small creek with our field and woods lying beyond. I wasn’t as interested in visiting the woods as I was in visiting the creek’s two crossing spots. As I walked, I stared at the stream of water. My brother snapped, “Watch your step! You almost stepped into a cow pie!” Continue reading

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Life Dancers

I spun from the refrigerator to the sink. Dumping a bundle of carrots on the counter, I twirled toward the stove where a kettle lid was jiggling noisily. My fifth grade daughter Tammie, sat reading a book in the corner of the kitchen. Ninth grader Niki, leaned on the counter next to the sink eating an apple.

Earlier, when I picked them up after school, I had asked, “How was your day? Tell me about it.” They’d each given me the typical non-verbal shrug.

I knew from experience that I’d opened a channel of communication. If I was patient and listened, by the end of the evening their experiences of the day would slowly unwind for us to share.

Tossing her apple core into the wastepaper basket, Niki proudly announced, “My gym teacher asked me today if I was a dancer.”

Looking up from my gravy-making, I inquired, “What gave her the idea that you danced?”

Niki answered with a chuckle, “She had the class doing stretches. I was able to do them easily. She told me people who dance are usually more flexible than those who don’t.” Drawing herself up as tall as she could, she proudly proclaimed in an exaggerated drawl, “I am flex-i-ble!”

Laughing, I instructed, “Ok, flexible girl…show me those stretches!” While I finished supper preparations, both Niki and Tammie were on the kitchen floor doing splits. Continue reading

Planting or Burying – Sowing and Reaping

Warm, golden sunshine steadily bathed the lawn. Its brilliance made the lush blades of grass look as if their beautiful shade of green glowed. The slightly humid air felt like velvet against my skin as a gentle breeze softly caressed my cheeks. I stopped planting seeds in the garden for a minute and looked around.

A plump, orange-bellied robin landed a few feet away from the edge of the garden. Opening his beak, he tilted back his head and sang a breath-taking beautiful song that proclaimed his joy; for being alive, for the warm sunshine, for the bountiful earth.

Immediately getting down to business after his song, the bird thrust his beak into the earth near his feet. Coming up with a worm clenched in his jaws, he tugged. The robin pulled mightily until the entire worm was free of the soil. Then, in a flash of powerful wing flaps, he was gone.

I looked down at the seeds in my hand. Would they grow once I put them in the ground? There was nothing to tell me that life existed inside their hard, dry exteriors. In the silence while I contemplated the mystery of seeds, another robin on the other side of the yard caroled its anthem of praise.

The song triggered a memory of a funeral that took place on an early summer day as warm and as beautiful as this one. Loved ones crowded around an open grave with the casket suspended above. When the minister finished his prayers, the silence that followed was profoundly poignant. Suddenly, the clear, beautiful voice of a robin filled the air with a song that made tears well up in my eyes. It made me think of love, hope, and the mystery of what comes after this life. Continue reading

Wild Storm

The jangling of an alarm woke me. Instead of a light-infused spring dawn peeping through the bedroom windows, a dark, foreboding quiet surrounded our mobile home.  I had the day off from work, but Arnie, my new husband needed to get up. I shook him and gently pushed him out of bed.

Being the good little new wife, I got up with Arnie and made him a scrambled egg breakfast. It didn’t matter if he appreciated my efforts or not, I was filled with self-satisfaction. The minute he stepped out of the house, I trotted back to bed.

Far away thunder rumbled. Rain pelted our metal mobile home roof. I stretched, yawned and snuggled under the covers with a smile. I loved to lay in bed listening to thunder storms. An occasional flash of lightning and closer rumbles of thunder entertained me for the rest of the morning. Continue reading

Two-Room Apartment

Dark clouds overhead made the afternoon look and feel like dusk. The air in the backyard was hot and sultry. A flash of lightning illuminated Mom’s lush flowerbeds and shrubs. It was as blinding as the flash of her Brownie camera, but terrifying. An ominous deep rumble rolled from one end of the sky to another.

I wanted to be with my brother Billy in Grandpa’s two-room apartment. The storm was getting worse. If I didn’t go now, I wouldn’t be able to get there!

A fifty-foot-long path paved with flat stones was between the backdoor of our farmhouse where I stood, and the garage apartment. Afraid, I took off running as fast as I could. Another rumble, louder this time, inspired me to pick up speed beyond what my seven-year-old legs had ever done before. Continue reading

Rosie Spearmint

Standing in front of the dressing table facing my sisters on the bed, I twirled a button threaded onto an arm’s length of yarn. My sister Mary giggled, “Tell us about yourself, Rosie Spearmint.”

Like an actor on a stage, I maintained a serious expression as I informed her, “I’m a little girl and my Daddy used to own a grocery store.”

Betty elbowed Mary and hissed, “Ask Rosie why her Daddy doesn’t have the grocery store anymore!” Betty had been with me when we dreamed up this game, so she knew the answer.

Mary frowned and questioned, “Hmmm. Did you say your Daddy used to have a grocery store? Why doesn’t he have it anymore?”

I sighed theatrically and answered, “I ate him out of business. He bought cookies and cakes, bacon and cheese to sell, but I have such a big appetite, I ate it all up before he could sell any of it.”

Laughing, my sisters flopped onto their backs and hooted.

My make-believe game had me claiming to be someone other than Kathy.  As the youngest member of our family, I loved making my siblings laugh and this schtick was doing the trick! Continue reading

Good Old Fashioned

A glance at the kitchen clock told me that if Arnie was on schedule, he would be in the house looking for supper soon. I glanced into a kettle and gave the stroganoff a stir. It looked perfect. Carrying the pot of cooked noodles to the sink, I tipped it to drain the water. Steam clouded the evening-darkened kitchen window.

The slam of the front door signaled my husband’s arrival. I had another five minutes before he’d be done washing in the bathroom. Our two daughters also having heard the door slam, ran screaming to the entrance to greet Daddy. Hearing them chatter about their day made me smile as I poured bright orange carrots into a serving dish.

Arnie came into the kitchen just as I placed a frosted cake on the counter next to the table. Tammie, aged four and Niki, aged eight tumbled into their places at the table. Niki blurted, “Daddy has a surprise for us.”

Smiling, Arnie said, “I had some business in town today. Before coming home to start chores, I stopped to look at television video tape recorders. I ended up buying one. I’ll set it up later after milking the cows.”

Not sure we needed a television video tape player, I nodded and answered doubtfully, “Okay..” Continue reading