THE BERRY BUS

As I sank my teeth into a ruby-red raspberry the other day, the sweet-tart taste took me back to my berry-picking days in Western Washington when I was a kid.

And, truly, I wasn’t much more than a kid – maybe fourteen or so – when I sleepily dragged myself out of bed at 4:00 in the morning, threw on some grubby clothes and met my friend Elaine up at the corner, where we waited for the “Berry Bus”. Now, it was definitely not a bus. It was a rickety pickup truck with old wooden slats on the sides and benches in the back. (Oh, those days before seat belts!)

The truck would stop, we would clamber up into it and then we were off to the next stop to pick up more berry pickers. The truck worked on a circuit through our area of the city – we were some of the first being picked up; but it meant we were some of the last to be dropped off. I’ll tell you later why that was significant.

Picking raspberries wasn’t bad – at least you were mostly upright. Strawberry picking we avoided – that was backbreaking work and, given the choice, we chose picking raspberries. First thing when we arrived, we got in line and were given our baskets to fill, which came with dire warnings against sneaking rocks or, Heaven forbid, unripe berries into the baskets. Of course, in the cool of the summer morning, we would pop one berry in the basket and pop one into our mouths; but that got old pretty quickly, especially when we weren’t filling our baskets very quickly! So, we worked. We really did.  When we finished with one holder, we would stand in line to turn them in. They would check them and punch our tickets. At the end of the day, those ticket punches determined our pay for the day’s work. Up and down the rows we went, searching for that flash of red hiding shyly behind a leaf or twig. There was quite a bit of bending and twisting but we were young and agile.

At the end of the work day – probably around 3:00, we stood in yet another line for our pay. Mine was $1.40. Yes….one dollar and forty cents. I think Elaine’s was similarly paltry. Somewhat less enthusiastically,we climbed up into our “berry bus” for the ride home.  We were tired and impatient by then and, rather than being jostled in the truck any longer, we got out at the downtown stop. We immediately went to Woolworth’s, bought some candy and then got on the next city bus going to our street.

When I arrived home, looking a bit discouraged and disheveled, my mother asked me how the day had been and how much money I made. When I told her,$1.40, she was stunned. “$1.40!? How can that be?” I mistakenly sought sympathy and said, “Yes! $1.40! AND I spent a dollar on candy and the bus coming home!”.Immediately I knew I should not have offered up that information…”You girls!”, she exclaimed. “You probably just talked, ate berries and wasted time all day.” I argued my case about how hard we worked and how many baskets we filled. I’m sure she didn’t believe me. Then, to my horror, she announced she was going with us the next day.

So, there we were, the three of us – my mom, Elaine and me – waiting for the berry bus bright and early the next morning. Boy! Did my mom work! Elaine and I did, too. I was thinking that, surely,we would make a lot more today. But, we didn’t!. Elaine and I only made a little more than the day before and my mom only made $2.00! She was disgruntled.

After that day, we never had to go berry-picking again.

“But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in his work alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.” Galations 6:4 & 5

“There Was an Old Woman”

I am convinced there is a certain grace that comes with age. As you grow closer to the end of your life than the beginning of it, all the “what-ifs” and the “I wants” settle like find sand at the bottom of life’s little jelly jar.

During the first half of my life, I nurtured the idea that, yes, I still have time to be a national newscaster or a famous actress, or a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet…or have another baby. Possibilities were available….”I still have time”. As the years passed, I realized I would do none of those things.  Truth be told, I didn’t really want to do them all that badly, else I would have pursued them more persistently.  AND I WAS BUSY LIVING MY LIFE!

Now, I am an old woman by the world’s standards.  One day, it hit me that I sort of like knowing that the possibilities are NOT endless. There’s a peace that settles over me when I truly know I can’t go back. There are no do-overs. Good. I get to look at my life as a bunch of decisions and experiences all rolled up into a journey that is mine alone. And I have learned I need to pursue what is truly important.

At my age, I have no time for regrets. I heard someone say that it’s wiser to live your life not so much as a resume but as a eulogy. That means that it is really less about great accomplishments and more about developing good character. I like that. It makes me want to use my time wisely, to accomplish whatever I can….whatever I am called to do.  Those “callings” are not as huge as I once thought.  God did not send me to Africa as a missionary. But he did call me to demonstrate His love in small ways.  National newscaster? No, but I can tell others the good news that Jesus died for them.  Famous actress? No, but I can be in a church play with great meaning. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet? Nope, but I can share my writing with others in hopes of touching their lives with love and a kindred spirit. Have another baby? No way….but I can cherish the one I have, along with my grandsons and my son-in-law. who has become like a son to me. I can adore my darling husband like crazy.  I can mentor and nurture younger women to let them know there is hope.

Being old is great! The extraneous things tend to fall away as we age.  We have all heard that saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Oh! That is so true!  I’m so old now that staying mad at my husband is impossible….I can’t remember why I was mad in the first place! Things are not as earth-shattering as they once seemed and are not worth wasting my time or energy on. Most of all, as the truly important people and things fill our life’s little jelly jar…..all the insignificant stuff falls away and we are left with the good, meaty stuff that really matters….loved ones, relationships and, yes, God.

You see, when I die, I am going straight out of this world and into the arms of God.  Death has always been thought of as this life ending and then a new eternal life beginning.  But, guess what? We are already living in eternity! Death is not an ending followed by a new beginning….it is a transition. I heard it described as a child falling asleep on the sofa and his loving father just picked him up without waking him and lovingly put him to bed. And that is dying.

So, you see, I’m not old….I’m just getting started!

The following is a piece my sweet daughter, Elisa, wrote when she was a little one:

“Love is beautiful. Love is your doll on your lap and singing a lullaby to her.  Love is looking at a pretty flower. Love is in your house looking at the fireplace.  Love feels like you’re warm inside and you feel good. God is love. He is special. You pray to Him all the time. I love Him very much. When we have to go we still have love in our hearts.”

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” II Corinthians 4:16

MEMORABILIA

The shoebox on the shelf – secured with old string and dusty from being ignored – beckoned me. I opened to find a quarter-century of memories a thousand miles away. So, here I sit.  There are some pictures on top, one of our brown and yellow house, and one of my old room, paneled in knotty pine with plaid curtains and a bulletin board. There is a postcard of Tacoma’s grey, quiet skies and drizzle of cool rain, green trees….and I remember mud puddles and chicken noodle soup.

Someone once said, “You can never go home again.” But something draws me to this box of memories….some kind….some bittersweet.  I find an old letter my father wrote to me while he was sitting in my old room.  And I, his youngest, was far away. He, the wisest man, advised to to seek peace and contentment in my life….to find God and let Him help me.

Tears come from missing him. I read on….he says the pains are getting worse, news not borne of self-pity, but merely for my information. I look up to face the imaginary sky and hope to see God. I almost ask Him “Why?”. But one should never ask God that question, but only keep in mind, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then….face to face.” However, my father died, wretched with pain of cancer, whispering, “Sweet Jesus” and then went to Him.

Next, I find a Christmas poem I wrote…I meant to send it a long time ago – about family and friends….wonderful Mom, very merry Dad….but now he’s not there to send it to. And it was a darn good poem. Dare I dig deeper into this Pandora’s box – to birth announcements and family portraits of happy, smiling faces, of Dad, with his chef’s hat getting ready to carve the Thanksgiving turkey? No, I wipe my tears and blow my nose and then sit quietly, listening to life tick away on the face of the clock. Yes, the hands of time, fast-moving, mock the love of life that I have known.

And so I write on the back of an old insurance policy: “Dear Dad…I sure need you now.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you went…..but I was there for the funeral, and I cried and cried, because Jerry Linder sang the Lord’s Prayer and I remembered he had sung it at my wedding, too, and you…..were so dead.

You know, I sing a lot now…and play the piano – all your old favorite songs…I can still hear you singing bass. I wanted your old banjo, but Mom sold it at a garage sale for $5.00. Oh, boy…do I miss you.  Sometimes, I think life has not been so very kind to me. Or perhaps I have abused it. But, I’ll always remember what you told me once, “God never puts a ten-ton load on a five-ton truck.” So, don’t worry about me. I guess I’m a survivor, and I love you. I start to weep again, creating a pile of used tissues on the couch next to me

With shaky breath, I put the lid back on the shoebox, wipe the dust and tear-splotches off, and tie the old brown string around it again….and put it back in the closet – among the skeletons of other broken memories.

“He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

A VISIT TO MOTHER’S

So….there I was, standing in the middle of Mother’s Market.  The smells of the hot food, ready to eat, were a bit overwhelming, sort of like health food mingled with weird vitamins and some kind of icky cheese.  My husband and I walked around the lunch offerings.  He looked at me.  I looked at him. “Nothing looks good to me” he said plainly.  I gave it a go-round again….tofu tuna salad, kelp-covered veggie patties. “Nope, me neither,” I mumbled as I rounded the corner to get away..

I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Every time I come to Mother’s, I feel the same way: lost. I try to educate myself about healthy alternatives to our preservative-filled, trans-fat clotted grocery store foods. I come armed with a tiny list of things I want to buy to become healthier, according to the last study I read about blood sugar, dementia, weight loss, etc. What I find is a myriad of choices….organic or no? Coconut sugar or no? Shall we choose grass-fed beef, free-range chickens raised in condos, frolicking (do chickens frolic?) on rolling green hills or KFC? Well, at least I know the answer to THAT one! And can we really be sure the organic food industry is any more trustworthy than the big food manufacturers that have fed us poison for years in the form of sugary ingredients and hydrogenated oils? I don’t know the answer. And, don’t get me wrong. I do not criticize or make light of people trying to find answers to painful and chronic health problems. More power to them. But I am just plain at sea when I am in this store!

Oh, and please don’t get me started on the supplement section.  Every vitamin, mineral, and trace element is available for every ailment, every deficiency, every ache and pain known to man (or woman)….So there we were,  husband and wife, standing side by side, comparing labels on two prostate formulas….me squinting with my glasses on top of my head, he with two pair of reading glasses, just to read the tiny label….I got really bored, really fast….I wandered off.  I looked at the people shopping.  Personally, I thought they were mostly weird.  An older woman in what could only have been brightly printed pajamas strolled intently, filling her basket with….well, really, I don’t know. I couldn’t  stay to watch. Again, I know lots of normal people who shop at Mother’s….today, they weren’t there.

I wandered off to the protein drink section.  I had tried some before, but something in them gave me migraines, so I was looking for something with a different kind of protein and ingredient list….I landed on an organic, all vegan, non-soy brand and selected the “Smooth Chocolate” flavor. Then I had a conversation with myself about organic milk….yes, no, yes, no….no…I strolled back to the supplements. My husband was still staring at the prostate bottles….I made a quick turn the other way and ran smack into the pajama lady’s cart….oh, dear. So sorry.

I just stood there, indecisively, and was struck with an overwhelming thought…..I wonder if they have candy? Before I could track the sugar granules, Miron came back from vitaminland and rescued me from my craving.  We got to the checkout just ahead of….you guessed it, the pajama lady.  We checked out our paltry items, which cost more than a week’s worth of regular groceries. As we turned to go, the checker asked the lady how she was.  She replied, “Well, I’m just so tired today. I think I’ll just go home and go to bed”.   As I turned to leave, I said to my husband, “Well, she certainly is dressed for it.” I would have chuckled at the joke, but I couldn’t.  I had taken a  big swig of my new, yummy protein drink made of ground drywall mixed with Kaopectate….

Me want candy…..

Neighbors

At this time of year, when memories of Christmases past come flooding in, it is easy to flash back to childhood days. In the case of this writing, my old neighbors across the alley from us entered my mind and took a stroll….and it reminds me that the people that come into and go out of our lives sometimes leave the biggest impact on us. They leave indelible prints on our hearts and minds and may even play a part in how we look at life as we mature……I share these thoughts with you:

She used to let me cut through her yard on my way to school,
So I wouldn’t have to use the alley, which was full of chuckholes and gravel;
And which held memories, too recent, of being bitten
By a black and white spotted mongrel dog….
The Neighborhood Terror.

I’d run so fast to get to the second grade on time
You’d think I would never have remembered her ivy-covered walkway,
Or the huge yellow sunflowers blooming next to the white picket fence,
The paint blistered and peeling,
Or her big, lazy cat named Bugsy
And her Siamese named Chin-Chin,
Who was rather ill-tempered.

But I remember those things….and how my mother would always
Send me bounding across the alley to her house
To pick a bunch of chives
For the potatoes at dinner.

I fed her cats once, when they went on vacation.
I was about eight then, and frightened….
Because the doors creaked in her house,
And her cats didn’t really like me
Anyway.

She had two sons,
Who were much older than I.
At least they were as old as my sister, who was ancient
When she was thirteen and I was eight.
Those two boys shared an old purple Studebaker,
And were always in the garage
Waxing the car.

She moved away one day.
I heard that one of her sons became a mortician
And lived upstairs over the ever-perfumed mortuary.
I read in the newspaper that the other son
Was killed in Da Nang…

Dang!
I can still remember the ivy…and the sunflowers…and the chives…
And the old purple Studebaker,
Shining in the garage…and me, running like lightning
To get away from that horrifying black and white dog;
Who is probably still lurking in the alley
Biting small children.

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.'”
Matthew 19:14

GROWN AND GONE

During my childhood, it never crossed my mind that I would someday be in my mother’s position of watching her children grow up and strike out on their own….of course not. I was a child. Children are supposed to be absorbed in their own immediate world. Life is all about us, right? As we grow up a bit, we begin to develop empathy….a sense of how others feel about things….not just how we view the world, but how the world affects those we love.

When my daughter, Elisa, was born, I not only realized how very much my mother must have loved my sister and me, but how hard it must have been for her when we grew up and flew away – both of us in the space of less than a year. So, as Elisa went through her early childhood stages, I watched her – not just with my Mommy eyes, but with my Mother’s eyes…seeing how she must have looked at us the same way when we were little. I also realized I must have been a bit of a handful, but that may be a story for another time!

There was an apple tree in our front yard  (It was called an “Early Transparent” – I really hated the apples…they were pale and mushy – I liked the tart Gravensteins from the neighbors tree so much better). But that didn’t matter because our tree had just the perfect footholds for little feet to climb on up to what seemed like the soaring upper branches when, in reality, they were probably only six or eight feet off the ground. My dad had put a swing on the lowest branch and I just about wore the rope through the branch seeing how high I could go. Climbing that tree was an obsession….and I rebelled against almost anything that kept me from it….including my piano lessons, or dinnertime, or being stuck inside for more than five minutes. I was a bit of a tomboy and playing outside was the very best thing in the world.

One day, as I was remembering those early years while watching Elisa play (on the roof of the doghouse in the back yard! – like mother, like daughter-), I stood back and thought about how my mom must have felt when I was no longer there…when I had grown up, married, moved away. What were her thoughts? Here is the poem I wrote.

Grown and gone, my blue-jeaned child,
The apple tree in memory filed.

The calloused hands of an eight year-old
Are smoother now with her band of gold.

She’s grown too big to sit on my lap
And there’s no need now to take her hap.
No kitchen smudge from those small, dirty hands –
The time has slipped by like great, drifting sands..

I went from her cradle to her gown of white lace;
I fed, burped and bathed, and I loved that dear face.
From lunch bucket lost to daffodil tears,
We loved through the ups and the downs of those years.

Well, though the swing is empty now;
The old house older yet, somehow,
I still can hear the reckless din
Of little Janny running in.

But, wait, no tears for a child grown tall.
That’s children’s laughter I hear after all.
The child of my child – it must be inherent,
I can picture HER swinging ‘neath the Early Transparent.

It’s awesome and sweet as I cling to the past,
To cling to the future within the same grasp.
For in that small elfin face I can see
That there in my grandchild is some part of me.

Oh, yes, MY child is grown and gone.
The swing hangs still from dawn to dawn.
But there is another wee child with black knees…
And…there are other…..apple trees.

“The righteous man walks in his integrity. His children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20:11

ODE TO THE HUNTER

In this grey, slurpy weather this morning (thank God it finally rained in Southern California!), I was taken back to a day much like this when I decided to go dove hunting with my husband at the time and several of his friends. Now, I am not taking a public position for or against hunting, or for or against guns perse. I used to love going target practicing with my .22 pistol on a .38 frame….nice long barrel….straight shooter (oops, I guess that gives it away, eh?) However, this was real hunting with real shotguns, both of which were completely new to me. Please come with me on this journey of a day I will never forget.

Silent serenity of morning mist
Effortlessly gives birth to dawn,
Awakening from night to day.
The pink and grey-blue flames
Muted globe of white sun
Burns off the quiet mist.

The still beauty is of a sudden blasphemed
By a deafening blast….echoing,
Resonating among sleepy trees.
Another blast, and yet another.
Bits of shot rain over me…
A thunder shower.

The man next to me takes careful aim. Bam!
I look to the sky where a black speck
Falls, thump, near the dew-laden ground.
Chicken hawk lies in the bush
Not two feet from me…suspended,
Wings spread, on a bed of brittle branches,
Still breathing, face up,
Looking into the sky
In which he’d fly no more.

We crept through the open field.
It smelled like wet hay and rotting silt.
“This one’s yours! Aim carefully!”
Stunned, I hugged the shotgun to my shoulder
Tight.  I followed my frightened fowl target
And, with a blast – it sickened me –
The dove lay forever in peace
On the sod-turned-grave.

(“Good shot!” I thought I heard someone say….somewhere
far, far away from me.)

Later, he shot a mother quail.
Out of season, quail was, but HE was bored.
He picked her up and stuffed her
Into his hunting jacket

Shivering with cold, I huddled next to him
And felt a nauseating flutter on my stomach.
He pounded with his fist on the leaded bird,
Still inside his jacket
Until she moved no more.

Tears, like Karo syrup, drooled down my face.
I spent an hour killing beer cans,
Mercilessly murdering Miller, Coors and Bud,
Sometimes calling them by other names.

Blast after punishing blast, I tortured myself.
Shoulder bruised, collarbone torqued with every blow;
Flesh of face splashing back against my deafened ears —
Contorting, disfiguring at each murderous pull of trigger.

Furnace of orange sun and battle fatigue
Drove us out — to my great relief.
The clattering din of a greasy spoon
Welcomed us to its hunters’ haven.

Fat men in plaid jackets bragged.
On and on and on. With hearty laughs,
Gut laughs, “Hey! I got my limit, Joe!
You shoulda seen me out there!”

I sipped at oily coffee, staring far away.
A cockroach ran across my foot.
Then greasy eggs and introspection,
Followed by the long drive home. I threw up.

There was a dove-eating celebration that next Sunday.
All hunters gathered for the feast.
Chortling, gulping down bird meat.
I ate the potato salad and black olives
And drank a can of Bud —
My victory celebration
Of capital punishment for aluminum beer cans.
And I shall hunt no more.

“Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 24:7 & 8

 

PACKED LUNCHES

Remember when you were a kid? And your mother always had a brown paper sack sitting on the counter by your books ready to accompany you to school? Mine always did. She kept insisting on writing my name in big letters on the outside of the bag….how embarrassing when you’re a sophomore in high school! And she always made me save the bags.  So, there I would be, sitting in the lunchroom, folding my sack, trying to look inconspicuous; and then I’d furtively stuff it inside my history book….even the bulge between the pages made me blush.  Sometimes, when the bag had been used so many times it looked like the face of the Ancient Mariner, I took great pride in crumpling it up and nonchalantly tossing it into the garbage can….as if WE could afford a new bag every day.

The sandwiches were always the same:  peanut butter, mayonnaise, lettuce and garlic salt.  Apparently, my mom thought anything green needed garlic salt and any sandwich needed something green….oddly enough, I remember liking them. Thankfully, she had stopped cutting my sandwiches into little heart shapes in grade school, so that embarrassment went the way of my lost Roy Rogers and Dale Evens lunch pail.  Sometimes, there would be one Hostess cupcake with the chocolate frosting and white squiggle on top. Mom always put one in my lunch and one in my sister’s…..so I never got a whole package. But homemade cake was the usual dessert and the frosting always stuck to the wax paper (these were the days before Zip-Locks)….so, I’d wait until no one was looking and scoop it up with my index finger and lick it off. I hated it when she’d put a banana in my lunch because, by noon, everything in the sack tasted like bananas….ick….especially on the days she decided to cut the banana in half and give each of us this brown-tipped, overripe, limp banana half which had spent all morning gassing up all the other food in the bag.

It was always quite prestigious to buy your lunch at school.  Who knows why….the food was rotten.  But it seemed to put you a notch above all the others….socially.  But I only bought my lunch when they had turkey on the day before Thanksgiving.  My, how times had changed by the time my daughter was in school. I remember her trotting off to first grade with her Sigmund and the Sea Monster lunch pail and she even bought her lunch once or twice a week when, at 6:00 a.m., my eyes couldn’t find the peanut butter.

Oh, sure, how times do change, Mom.  But, one morning, with six year-old and lunch bucket going out the door, I said, “Honey, don’t forget to save the Baggies”….and I smiled at myself.

“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her household.” Proverbs 31:15

END OF SUMMER

Autumn! Sweet Autumn!  I love everything about Fall….the pumpkins, the turning leaves, the yearning for hot soup and cider….and all this is quite fraught with difficulty for those of us who live in Southern California!  We have to ask ourselves, “Do we really get an Autumn here?”  Well….yes, sort of.  But we get it rather later than most everywhere else. Yet, we make the very best of it….we don’t let a little thing like 90 degree weather melt our spirits!  We just forge ahead with the Fall decor and the cinnamon candles and our carved Jack-o-lanterns.

It is a little sad….coming to the end of summer and seeing all the kids go back to school. You know that shorter days are nearing and earlier darkness means, well, less daylight to enjoy and less grilling on the patio. Soon, the street lights will come on earlier along with that “coming home time”. The poem I share with you below is from a time of profound unhappiness in my life…..yes….profound. The poem actually sprang from the beginning of that Shakespeare line from Richard III, “Now is the winter of our discontent….”….for some reason that phrase just kept rolling around in my head.  Silly, since it wasn’t even winter yet.  But I made it work.  I eventually wrote another poem about that discontented winter, which I will share at another time. 

When gabled shadows grey and fall
Across the quiet grounds,
When peace at last surrounds us all
With soft, familiar sounds.
When Autumn sends her clearer pen
And paints a cadmium leaf,
We shall, half turning, turn again,
To bid farewell to grief.
The harvest home will sound a beat
And lend a softer tune
To hearts left cold by summer’s heat
And ills begun in June.
When eyes reflect the kinder hues
Of the equinoctial sky,
Then we shall knowingly excuse 
The things that made us cry.
And, trading in a season’s pain
Til fairer weather comes to reign,
We shall look and wonder where it went –
This summer of our discontent.

Here’s to enjoying Autumn this year….in whatever way suits you best. I’m off to buy Brach’s candy corn….

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8

 

The Farm

When I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest, my family spent holidays and the occasional Sunday dinner in Puyallup at what we lovingly called “The Farm”.  And a trip to “The Farm” was always prefaced with, “We’re going out to the farm”, as if it was an adventure in the outskirts of normalcy.  In a way, it was.  I loved going to the farm.  My Aunt Grace and Uncle Russ lived there with my Cousin Janice. To my amazement, Janice was always nice to me.  She was several years older than I so, when I was seven or eight, she was well into her teens. But she included me in everything with my sister and her. The three of us – my sister Carol, Janice and I – would lay out under the stars at night, which were multiplied by the millions “out in the country”. The property is still in the family and has metamorphosed over the years into an entirely new identity. But that makes my memories even  more precious. Please join me in a bit of time travel.

The farmhouse was old…and wise..and happy, with the proverbial flypaper dangling wearily…..just outside the kitchen door.

Fastened with a crude spiral of spring, the rickety screen door made a whap-slap noise….when it slammed itself shut.

The beckoning grass, all strength and texture, was a green cushion of soft, thick fur beneath my summer feet –

Much softer, indeed, than our thin, city sod –

That country grass became a glorious playground  by day, a sturdy bed and feather pillow by night;

And the coverlet was the incomprehensible universe, bejeweled with rhinestone stars and dark, evasive shadows.

The chicken house, with the dusty odor of pellet feed, and an almost-fragrance of loosely strewn hay,

Came frighteningly alive with a frenzied flurry of feathers and squawks,

When I walked in – a human invader in their private animal world.

The farm was a solitary tranquility, holding its own mighty mystery….a merging with nature…

Untainted air to fill awaiting lungs…sweet corn….and one lonely, ancient cow

Lazily nibbling, chewing in three-quarter time……placid and oblivious to the noisy mass of humanity

On the other side of the hill.

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing. And the breath of all mankind?” Job 12:7-10

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork”. Psalm 19:1