Archive | June 2019

Wooden Heart

Clouds sailed majestically across the sky like big white sea-going ships. Each cast large moving shadows on the roads and farmland below. I stood with my bike in the farmyard driveway watching the clouds and shadows, marveling at how slow the clouds seemed to move, while their shadows traveled more swiftly on earth.

Daddy’s first crop of hay was in the barn already and his corn was about ankle high. Summer vacation had started long enough ago that I’d forgotten school routine, but recently enough that I felt as if my free time still stretched long and deliciously ahead.

Hopping onto my bike, I peddled uphill towards my cousin’s farm. I found the three girls closest to my age under the shade trees in their front yard. Getting off my bike, I stretched out on the cool grass and asked, “Would you like to go for a bike ride with me?”

Barb considered the idea before suggesting, “It’s hot today. We shouldn’t go far and get overheated.”

Nodding her head, Alice insisted, “And I don’t want to take the road where we go down the steep hill. Peddling back up is murder!”

Getting onto her bike, Donna informed us, “I don’t want to take the road toward the highway, because it’s bumpy.” Continue reading

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Literary Produce

The doorway into my imaginary home was the branch I used to pull myself up into the crabapple tree. The branch next to it was my kitchen and the branch beyond it, the living room. On the backside of the tree was the bedroom branch.

At the age of five, cheered on by my siblings, this was the first tree I had learned how to climb. For the rest of my childhood, despite climbing many other trees, the crabapple stayed my favorite. I spent hours in it, thinking, imagining, making up stories and eating frozen chocolate chip cookies I’d filched from the new chest freezer in our farmhouse basement. Each year, when my tree’s small apples had rosy cheeks, I’d sit on the kitchen branch munching on these close-to-hand snacks.

Like the garden of Eden, the farmyard I grew up in was filled with many beautiful flowers with names I learned as well as the names of my siblings. Flowerbeds bordered the front and back of the farmhouse where there was a shrine to the Virgin Mary. Lawn chairs and a lawn-swing provided wonderful places to sit. Continue reading

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

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