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
Casper made a circular motion with one hand as he reported with a laugh, “One of the chickens did a summersault and then ran into the coop.”
My sister Agnes and I were visiting our bachelor brothers, Billy and Casper. The four of us sat around a table in the patio room at the farmhouse. My siblings were all ten to fifteen years older than me, so I knew little about their childhoods. To my delight they were in the mood to reminisce about funny things they did as children that afternoon.
The patio room had large windows on three sides, showcasing the surrounding snowy yard. Heated floor tiles under our sock-clad feet radiated a sense of comfort and relaxation.
As usual, Casper offered us a glass of his homemade wine shortly after our arrival. His vintner skills had been honed to a high degree with more than 30 years of practice. We happily anticipated his hospitality. Continue reading
Who knows how it happened. But there I was lying on the living room floor in a puddle of water, sand, glass and flopping fish. Hadn’t Mama told me to stop chasing around? Maybe she had, but none of that mattered anymore. I opened my mouth and let out a long, loud wail. Not only had I ruined something nice, but I was scared and uncomfortable.
Everyone in the house must have heard the crash and come running to see what had happened. If they hadn’t heard the glass break, they certainly heard my fire siren howl. Mama picked me up off the floor and gasped, “Oh my goodness! The glass cut your left arm!” Holding me away from her a little she added, “Ugh, you’re wet and fishy smelling!”
Mama firmly directed me toward the bathroom for a bath, bandaging and a change of clothing. Before leaving the room, I looked back and saw my sisters and brothers picking up glass, mopping up the water and sand. I saw small orange fish on the gray linoleum floor wildly flopping about. The sight made me feel so sad I began to wail again. Continue reading
Leftover snow from winter lined fences and ditches that Sunday afternoon. During the previous week, fickle spring weather see-sawed back and forth between snow and rain. Today, Dame March was treating Wisconsin to warm sunshine and gentle breezes. Sighing contentedly, I signaled to turn at the next cross road. I’d decided to drop in on my sister and her husband for a short afternoon visit.
Better than a doorbell, Susie the one-year-old black pug announced my arrival before I even reached their door. Agnes cheerfully greeted me and said, “I was just making blueberry pancakes for Jim. Would you like a cup of tea?” I nodded with a smile and sat down at the table.
Placing a steaming cup in front of me, Agnes asked, “Would you like pancakes, too?” The pancakes she’d made were beautiful; filled with plump, fresh berries.
Breathing in the aroma of black tea, I answered with contented satisfaction, “No thanks. The tea is all I want.” Jim sat down across the table from me and buttered the pancakes on his plate. Continue reading
Bright afternoon sunshine slanted down through colorful fall foliage, blinding me for a moment. I impatiently pulled down the sun visor. Spotting a place to park directly in front of the school door, I swiftly pulled into the space and immediately jumped out of my vehicle. I had a dozen errands to run that afternoon and I intended to get every single one done as quickly as possible.
Next to the school door was a huge planter filled with salvias. The plants were tall and ablaze with vibrant red blossoms. I skidded to a stop. My feeling of being rushed and overburdened fell away, replaced by a sweet childhood memory filled with nostalgia and a sense of timelessness.
Fall was a season of celebration when I was a child. Red, yellow and orange trees were flames of joy, announcing that the bounty of summer was ready to be harvested. Mom and my siblings gathered apples from the orchard and made them into apple sauce and pies. Daddy spent warm days and cool nights in the corn fields making silage so the cows had more than hay to eat during the winter. Continue reading