Friday, August 14, 2015

Reflections, Summers Long ago

I am midway through my sixties, another birthday just days away, and as I sit here on the terrace on this August morning scenes of summers of my childhood flash through mind like an old home movie.
The time of my girlhood is the 1950’s. I live in a small farming community which is surrounded by golden fields of wheat. The population of our town is 1,036.  My family lives on the North Hill, near the edge of town. We are not farmers. We own and operate a grocery store. There is a field next to our house, and a dirt road separates our yard from the vegetable garden. Our house is a two bedroom single story, white with green trim. There is a porch out front and another out back. Hollyhocks grow in the front yard, which is fenced with posts and wire.   A huge bleeding heart bush is nestled right next to the house and several locust trees grow along the fence and shade the yard in the front. In the field behind the chicken house there are old apple trees just made for climbing.  Beyond the field are the rolling golden hills of wheat and purple mountains in the distance.  The sky is broad and brilliant blue. There is no traffic, just the quiet songs of the birds.  

Where I lived until I was 12. A few changes to the house over the yearsince then.

Me as a young child

I am an only child until the age of seven when my sister is born but I have an imaginary friend whom I call Janie.  Janie and I spend many happy hours together. I grow into a shy, quiet girl, with long dark hair which my mother braids into French Braids. My mother’s sister lives on the other side of the field so my cousins, my siblings and I play endless games of tag and hide and go seek.  Sometimes we sleep out in the yard in the summer and stay up late, giggling and making wishes on the shooting stars.
Sometimes, while my mother prepares dinner, I sit in our kitchen at the yellow Formica table and listen to The Record Man and The Story Lady on our AM radio, a coloring book and a package of Crayolas near my elbow. A true bookworm, I lug home piles of books from the library to read away the hours as I sit in the shade of a tree. I am also a tomboy who loves to swim and make mud pies. I have scabs on the palms of my hands and knees from crashing my bike on the gravel road down by the school. On the playground I ride on the merry-go-round, slide down the slide and play on the “monkey bars”. I play hopscotch, tetherball, and a game called 4 square and catch the grasshoppers in the football field and keep them for awhile old coffee cans before I let them go.
First day of school

My dad spends his days at our family business. He prefers to walk to the store when the weather is nice and most days he comes home for lunch.  He keeps a motor boat in the garage along with our family Ford. My mother is a homemaker, and works in the bank. By now I am old enough to take care of my sister and little brother.  
            The animals in my life include chickens, (I have a pet chicken which I push around in a doll stroller), rabbits that my uncle keeps in the cages along the outside wall of the chicken house,( I once opened all the cages and “freed” said rabbits) and his two sheep that graze in the pasture.  At one point there is a docile old mare that lives in the field among the crabapple trees, patiently allowing the neighborhood kids to ride her.  At any given time there is a mother cat and a batch of kittens to delight in.
            For musical entertainment there are records that we play in our stereo which we call a hi fi, and sits along one wall of the living room. It is big and square, like a chest and opens from the top.  My parents like Perry Como and Glenn Miller. My mother occasionally plays the story of Sleeping Beauty which has Tschaichowsky’s music as the background; my first exposure to classical music.  Our first television is black and white. Our favorite shows are The Wide World of Disney, the Mickey Mouse Club Show, and Lawrence Welk.

I believe those peaceful days as a child led me to the quiet place I enjoy now, dwelling among the stately pine trees, the river flowing nearby. I have come full circle to live on the land close to nature with family in the neighborhood.  I am learning to appreciate the present moment and to treasure memories of my heart.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Change of Attitude

 If you don't like something, change it. 
If you can't change it, change your attitude

Maya Angelou

       I have noticed that the people with the most problems in their relationships are those that complain the loudest and blame others for their problems. This goes hand in hand with denial. Blame and denial are roadblocks for a healthy life.

      The only person I can change is me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Poem by May Sarton

 I like having volumes of poems around the house to read in those quiet moments during the day. This one by May Sarton rings true at this particular phase of my life. Sometimes poetry is the only way to express how I am feeling, whether I am the poet or the reader.

Now I Become Myself
by May Sarton

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
'Hurry, you will be dead before-'
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!