Growing Up

My husband likes to tell people I was raised in a commune. I was not. I suppose, however, that a simple description could be misinterpreted. Let’s see.

Picture a two-lane country highway winding through small towns. Between two of those towns, turn onto a narrow paved road with thick trees lining both sides. Drive about a quarter of a mile until you see a clearing. My house was the first on the left.

Here is the unusual part. My grandparents’ house was in the center. And at any time over the last fifty-plus years, between four and six of their nine children lived nearby. Not a typical neighborhood with straight streets and cull de sacs. More like a valley. When standing in the middle, you could see almost everyone’s home.

Of course, we were free to come and go as we pleased. 😉 And though I left at the wise-old age of seventeen, there is no other place I would have wished to grow up.

Growing up there meant family. It meant security. And no, it was not a peaceful utopia. There were disagreements. But none that could not be solved over a cup of coffee or a few days of staying home.

My mom also grew up there, though, during her childhood, there were more forests for exploring. And with nine children, they needed the space to roam. The original house was small, with only two bedrooms and an outhouse.

I have heard stories of sleeping sideways on the bed, lots of giggling and being scared to go outside at night. Mom remembers as a small child when men came to dig a hole for their first electricity pole.

As you can imagine, they were hard workers. Whether planting in the field or washing clothes on a scrub board, there were always chores to be done. But there was also always fun to be had.

Some days, her dad would come home with a pocket full of penny candy. Enough for everyone. On Fridays, they would have chili dogs and ice cream. Can you imagine dividing a carton of ice cream for nine children? They would open the entire carton and cut it into equal squares.

My mom is now in her seventies. Four of the siblings (including my mom and dad), some grandkids, and great-grandkids live in the clearing today. Only one of her siblings, her oldest sister, Pearl, is no longer living.

Mom recently shared some thoughts that touched me. She described being overcome with emotion thinking of how hard her mom worked to make sure the kids had fun times. She was so young herself; it could not have been easy. Mom said the older she gets, the greater her appreciation for her mom grows. I think I am beginning to understand…

Each Single Spark

Wood neatly stacked
Chilly night air
The lighting
Of the fire
Perfection
First warms
My hands
Then turns
Into a game
Stand with
My backside
As close
As possible
To the flames
As long
As possible
Before running
Back to my seat
Feel the warmth
Spreading thru
My entire body
As I quickly
Sit down-
Content
Gazing
At the flames
A single spark
Catches my eye
I watch until
It disappears
Into the night sky
When sleep comes
I think about
The brevity
Of this life-
Each single spark
Glowing until
It disappears

Simply Sunday

Memories

Memories amaze me. They can be stored in our brains for years and suddenly find their way to the surface. Like when a song instantly transports me to another time or place. One I haven’t thought about in years! Then just as quickly, that memory fades, and a new one has filed right along beside it.

One would expect to hear the phrase, “Oh, that brings back memories,” from a grandparent. Or at least from someone who has lived long enough to experience certain milestones. But this week, I gained a new perspective on the subject.

During my First-Grade music class Friday, we sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It was one of those sweet moments where students gathered around the piano, singing as I played. Of course, they immediately asked if they could sing for their teacher when she returned. So, we practiced and got everyone lined up and ready.

And then I heard it. A sweet little voice in the group said, “Wow! That song really brings back a lot of memories!” “Why, yes, it does!” I smiled. This friend has lived on this earth for only six years. But you know, a lot can happen in six years. And just because it occurs in the first six years of life does not mean the memories are any less powerful.

Cheers to making memories and remembering them! ❤ 😉

Curiosity

A little childlike fun today with these two poems. 🌺 💭

Hello, Flowers

Tiny flowers grow
Under the window
Just outside
Reaching with
All their might
Hoping to be seen
Tiny feet stand
Under the window
Just inside
Reaching on tiptoes
Wondering what is
On the other side
A little help, please
Tiny feet walk
Out the door
Holding a hand
Toes touch the grass
Eyes spot the flowers
Under the window
Hello, flowers
Under my window

The flowers smile
Hello little one
We were hoping
You would visit

The Friendly Cloud

A cloud phoned
The other day
Taking a break
From all its
Floating around
Needing to rest
It grew still
And quiet
Like a giant
Cotton ball
Sitting in
The blue sky-
Thought I’d check-in
See if you needed anything

Said the cloud
Well, I said
Today has been hot
With little wind
I’m quite enjoying
Your cool shade-

Glad to help
Said the cloud
Maybe next time I call
You will need a little rain-
Maybe so…
Maybe so…

Possibilities

Eyes witness
The moon
In darkness
Eclipsed by
The shadow
Of Earth

Feet stand
On the surface
Of the moon
Looking back
At their blue
Marble home

Children explore
Past in present
Imagining future
Moon flights
Of their own
Anything is possible!

Today’s prompt was interesting-write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

From the Classical Dictionary I chose the following fact: First eclipse of the moon on record 721 B.C.

From the second dictionary I chose the word moon flight.

For more info check out https://www.napowrimo.net/.

The Gum Man

I was old before I was old. My body weary, tired.
The cane that was always by my side left that impression.
It also begged questions, but very few asked.
No matter. When Sunday came, I had the job of a lifetime.
I was the gum man.
Chewing gum, never left home without a supply.
When the children came running, I was ready.
I’d like to think chewing that gum helped some of them sit
through sermons, avoiding pinches and glances.
Anyway, it certainly made them smile. And it made me smile, too.
I wonder if any of them remember me?

Today’s challenge was to write a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who has died. I immediately thought of this sweet man from my childhood. ❤

Find more information and prompts at https://www.napowrimo.net/.

The Old Oak

A wooden backboard
Metal rim, no net
Nailed to an oak tree
The ground below
Covered with rocks
An uneven court
To be sure
Shaded by branches
And green leaves
The perfect spot
For a friendly
Game of H-O-R-S-E
Maybe one on one
Or three on three
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins
Lots of laughter
A few skinned
Elbows and knees-
Players are long gone
The old oak remains
Holding in its rings
The memories of
Summer days and
Basketball games
Played under its
Watchful care

I am, admittedly, not a huge sports fan. Growing up, I was never part of an official sports team. My thing was music.

I do enjoy watching the occasional college football game and March Madness basketball. Especially when the Arkansas Razorbacks are competing. Growing up in Arkansas meant being a Razorback fan.

I watched games with my family. Listened to my Dad and Uncles yelling at the TV. Learned how to “call the hogs.” Then went outside to shoot hoops under the tree on our gravel court.

I attended the University of Arkansas for graduate school. Met my husband, who was a tuba player in the Razorback Band. Watched our oldest son follow in his footsteps, continuing that Razorback Band tradition.

So, tonight I will be cheering on those Razorbacks as they play ORU in the NCAA sweet 16 games. It is sure to be exciting! And just hearing those hog calls is sure to bring back lots of fun memories. Go Hogs!

Rockstars

Kindergarten teachers have my heart. Imagine spending your entire day with twenty-something little bodies. Helping them learn how to get along, be part of a group, understand expectations. It is not for the faint of heart.

This school year brings additional challenges. The many levels of stress due to the pandemic affects both students and teachers. Not to mention the trauma many of our students have faced and continue to face.

All that said, these teachers are still smiling at the end of most days. And still finding ways to encourage others. I would say, kindergarten teachers, are rockstars! ❤

Today’s Lesson

Carefully folded
Pieces of paper
Some covered
With drawings
Of hearts
Music notes
Happy faces
Sad faces
Neatly stacked
On my desk-
Drawn by hands
So small, hands
Still learning
How to write
How to get along-
Simple messages
Meant to cheer
While saying
I’m sorry
Signatures
So sweet…
A humbling
Experience
For this grown-up
Teacher who has
Hard days right
Along with the kids
As we navigate this big old world-
Our lesson for today?
We can make
Tomorrow
A better day-
Big or small
Young or old

The Order of Things

Mercury…Venus…Earth...
Reciting names
Of the planets
Sparked curiosity
Field trips to 
The planetarium
Came next in
The order of things
Sitting quietly 
In the dark space
Stars on the ceiling
Mars…Jupiter...
Even better, clear nights
Lying on the driveway
Watching and waiting 
Hoping to spot just one
Star shooting across the sky
I saw one the night my grandma died
Another step in
The order of things
Saturn…Uranus...
A late-night walk-
Kids in tow-
In the middle of
A familiar field
To a wooden platform
Moons of Jupiter
Rings of Saturn
Visible thru the lens
Of my Uncle's telescope-
Ever seen a star cluster? No
Look through the telescope.
See that hazy-looking area? Yes
Stare at it-stare through it-
Millions of stars
Instantly in view
Bound to each other by gravity
Neptune…Pluto...
Reciting names
Of the planets
Culminated in staring
At the night sky
Our family
Held together by
The gravity of stars


The Sidewalk

Anxiously waiting for
Family to arrive
Coming from what,
In my young heart
Seemed like a
Faraway place-
Used to be a short walk
Down the hill
A knock on the door
Hello! Come out and play?
Now visits were
Few, but precious
Filled with late nights
Laughter, memories
Never enough time
Never ready to say
Goodbye…
I see myself standing at
The end of the sidewalk
Unable to contain my tears
Waving until their faces
Drove out of sight-
Already anticipating
Our next visit