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
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
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
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
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
The orange sun was slowly setting behind the woods across the road from our farm. I stood beside a strawberry patch as my mother picked berries. I looked forward to a bowl of them with sweetened cream. With a sound of disgust, Mom held up a big red berry with a large hole made by a bird’s beak.
Preparing for the night, all the spring birds in our yard sang their last melodies for the day as they foraged for bedtime snacks. I looked up as a large, orange-bellied bird landed on a cherry tree next to the strawberry patch. The bird opened its beak and threw back its head, letting out a clear, warbling song.
The sound reminded me of swiftly flowing water. Hearing it made me feel a full measure of joy and sadness at the same time. At the end of the song, the bird made several demanding clucks.
Mom watched the bird from where she knelt in the berry patch. As it ended its heart-moving performance, she scoffed, “There’s our berry-pecking culprit!” The bird made more clucking sounds. Mom added indignantly, “Listen to that robin. He’s laughing at us!”
Staring up at the colorful, sassy bird, I memorized the bird’s name, appearance and sounds. In my mind I could completely believe Mom when she said that the greedy, berry-wrecking robin was laughing at us. I could tell he had a full belly and felt happy.
On warm spring evenings whenever I hear robin’s sing, I am instantly transported back to my mother’s cherry and berry garden. With an indulgent smile I repeat my mother’s words, “That robin is laughing at us.” Continue reading
April 17th, 2018. One year ago today, I toured Notre Dame in Paris, France.