Our condo building has many square courtyards that can be purchased with a high rise condo so that a family can have their own place to garden and have barbecues. Parallel to us was another courtyard, higher up, and we detested the people who used it as they were loud, obnoxious, and cooked a great deal of smelly seafood.
You cannot exactly complain to the landlord about this, although, I tried unsuccessfully. The garbage and beer bottles they threw on our courtyard when we weren’t there proved they had to be breaking some bylaws as did their noise pollution extending beyond 10:00 p.m.
Nevertheless, our twelve-year old daughter, Jeseme, up late on a Saturday and gabbing in the courtyard with her friend, finally had enough of these neighbours and as I am told, screamed bloody murder and more to them in a way as adults, we only wished we could have done earlier. Apparently Jeseme was so frightening the nasty neighbours sold their courtyard and a lovely retired couple purchased the ill kept space. They also have a granddaughter who is the same age as Jeseme and her and April have become fantastic friends. A win win situation from my perspective.
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is a “challenge . . . to write a poem that explores your sense of taste! This could be a poem about food, or wine, or even the oddly metallic sensation of a snowflake on your tongue.” Also thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting Sunday Photo Fiction. For the A to Z Challenge, today’s GoodRead’s letter is the letter X.
“I could recognise his soul in mine as much as he could find me in his. Our sole existences seemed to have been for this very moment when nothing else mattered.” — X. Williamson (Distract My Hunger)
They air outside was warm, the taste of spring sprung,
Lilacs on my lips, flavor of crisp leaves.
In the garden, scent of spring on my tongue.
The air outside was warm, the taste of spring sprung.
Inhaling soft florals, fragrance in my lungs.
Breathing in and out, tastes chase what I’m grieving.
The air outside was warm, the taste of spring sprung,
Alice was excited to be eighteen and have her coming-out party in society. The young girl who talked nonsense about Wonderland was gone — the adult had almost swallowed her fantastical self completely.
She participated in garden parties, having tea in different settings such as fashionable tea rooms with her mother and girl friends. Alice went out with friends on picnics and sometimes on a double-date with a girl friend, two gentlemen with potential, and of course a chaperone.
Part of Alice always had a difficult time letting go of Wonderland. She knew it as a world infinantly crazy. At the same time, it was a place where she felt at home and life even though hidden beneath words and rhymes, made the most sense out of any place she had visited.
Alice had been around the world. Her father and mother had taken her to Europe. She had seen art and buildings thousands of years-old. She studied countless kings, queens, poets, philisophers, and clergymen as she travelled with a tutor. She had even been to the Orient, stocking up on silk and tea for he friends. Something about having tea, always appealed to her. It wasn’t merely Victorian society’s obsession with the past-time.
Throughout her travels, Alice found herself thinking about her days in Wonderland. She would consider if her two grand adventures actually occurred. If the dreams she still had of people and creatures in Wonderland — new and old, throughout her life –were true?
Alice could picture her Wonderland friends drinking tea, eating cookies, and talking nonsense; it had all felt real. She missed her childhood, but at the same time thought she had indeed been bonkers. Her friends at school had quickly shown her how odd little girls were treated and mocked, until Alice ceased talking about Wonderland at all.
As she grew-up, she believed she caught glimpses of a furry white rabbit in a vest following her, keeping watch. The White Rabbit would turn his head and smile at Alice, purposefully checking his pocket watch and then waving it at her. She didn’t know what the White Rabbit wanted from her and she was never quite sure if he was real. Alice began to ignore the White Rabbit, but he was persistent, even invading her sleep. Her dreams became increasingly vivid and she felt wherever she went, traces of Wonderland and its inhabitants, grasped her with dreamy tendrils.
Since Alice had first returned from Wonderland as a small girl of six, a pair of intense green-eyes and an attractive smile, had haunted her dreams. She knew this man, knew he’d always been watching out for her in the stickiest of situations as she grew up, keeping her safe. Alice had never had the chance to meet this young man, only knew that he lingered in her presence often, and that when he she felt him, she was at peace.
Alice’s eigteenth birthday was a grand affair. Several young men and women attended with their families. Last night had been an opulent coming-out ball but tonight was a private affair for Alice and her closest girl friends. The best potential suitors for Alice and her friends were also invited.
She was sipping her tea when her eyes caught the eyes of a man she thought to be about five years her senior. His green-eyes were familiar and glinted knowingly at Alice. She stared at him enthralled; he seemed to know she was drawn to him. His smile was devastatingly familiar, but only in her dreams. Alice wasn’t sure she believedher dreams were genuine. Could magic still be real?
The young man was a strange creature to her, as strange as those creatures she’d met in Wonderland long ago. Perhaps more so, if the sins of the flesh the Abbot talked about were as terrible as he said they were. But Alice didn’t much care about the Abbot’s warnings. She was intrigued and had always been a curious girl; she peered at the green-eyed man considering him.
His suit was finely-made and he smiled at her boldly. He moved towards her, but Alice hid amongst her friends, not yet ready to meet him. Her heart fluttered when her eyes met the young man’s mysterious green-eyes again; he was laughing at her shyness.
Alice perturbed by his making fun of her, left her own party and went outside to ponder. She sat on a bench in the garden behind her house. She still tended the roses in the garden but had forgotten the unique song of all flowers, she had sung as a child. Her roses were wilting and dry. She stood up and bent to pick a lone surviving rose. Hearing odd noises she looked up.
She was unsure of where she was at first, the garden had disappeared and Alice stood on a large slippery brown rock in the middle of an ocean. A young man in a boat rowed towards her and the noises she heard was the water lapping against the stone.
“Oh, do hurry, this rock is so small and I think the water is rising,” Alice yelled to the man. She waved her arms until the boat was next to the rock and piercing green-eyes met her shocked blue ones. Strong hands gently held her steady as she stepped into the row boat.
Alice was grateful to the man, but then she recognized his face from the party. He pushed his short dark-brown waves from his forehead. His green-eyes knowingly studied Alice. She felt as a if she were a child again, under a teacher’s gaze, but the young man was not upset at her; he seemed curious and careful with her instead.
“Alice,” the young man said, “Please take a seat so I can row us to safer waters and neither one of us falls in the ocean.” Alice obeyed, sitting opposite of the man with her mouth gaping. The man gently closed her mouth, smoothing her skin with the back of his hand.
Alice’s face heated and she blushed,”Who are you? And why are you here with me in Wonderland? I didn’t think you were real, real enough to attend my party.”
The young man’s eyes twinkled cheerfully, “I’m Wren, Alice, and I’m here and yourhere because Wonderland needs us. It was time for you to return and time I met you in person — not only in your dreams.” Alice flushed red.
Wren chuckled, “You didn’t go easy on our friend the White Rabbit. He’s a bit peeved at you for ignoring him so long. He kept waving his prized watch at you. I’m surprised you weren’t curious enough to follow him, darling.”
“Wren, are you from Wonderland or did you come here as a child too, like me? You’ve been with me before a great deal. I remember your green-eyes and smile; you keep me safe, but you never say hello. I’ve never seen how you actually look before.”
“Dearest, I’ve always lived in Wonderland and you’re correct, I’ve been with you when you’ve visited and I take care you are safe in the outside world. I have a Cheshire Cat who watches you closely, along with my friend the White Rabbit. I haven’t always been able to be with you, but when I cannot you can be sure the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit are there.”
“Why do you keep me safe Wren and why do you call me dearest? I always thought you lived only in my dreams. It’s been so long since I visited through the looking glass; do you stand with the Red Queen or the White Queen?”
Wren smiled softly as he rowed the boat effortlessly, Alice peppering him with questions; he listened contentedly as he rowed. “I’m supported by the White Queen Alice, but my influence is greater than hers and so yourinfluence will be greater than any queen as well.”
Alice studied Wren. She had been staring her boots shyly, for far too long. It wasn’t like her to be shy, when she bubbled with questions. Yet, she could feel herself blush anytime she looked at Wren; his smile brightened when he caught Alice staring.
She brushed the blond hair out of her eyes and in her frilly white dress, balled her hands together on her lap, determined to have a long look at Wren. She was assured she’d seen him before in some form and felt his presence keeping her from harm. Wren was beautiful to Alice; he was handsome and lithely muscled beneath his clothes. He was from Wonderland so she was pleased not to have to hide nonsensicallogic from him; he already would understand what Wonderland was like.
She noticed his eyes peruse her and Alice blushed again. Wren reached for her small hand and squeezed it gently, as he stopped rowing the boat. “Alice, you’re beautiful. As a girl, I thought you a fascinating girl, defeating the Red Queen and deftly dealing with Time. You had such a tousled head of blond hair and you still do. You’ve the same inquisitive blue-eyes and you’ve grown into a stunning woman,” Wren told her squeezing her hand again. He seemed genuine and the compliments made Alice flustered.
“Your beauty is also an asset when one has been tasked to guard Wonderland as we have,” Wren continued.”Beauty can attract and fool people and often, at the same time,” Wren said, absently stroking circles on Alice’s hand. “It’s hard for me to explain. Especially since I’ve much more experience than you’ve in life. Humans ageslowly in Wonderland –most creatures here do. But as in any land, we have ourownways to protect and our own tyrants to fight. You have proven yourself twice against our foes.”
Wren held both her hands firmly, appearing serious, “We have always had two guardians at a time, for a thousand Wonderland years each pair, ensuring Wonderland’s survival. Our guardians are a couple; a couple is stronger than one being. I am one guardian, born in Wonderland and familiar with its ways,” Wren said.
“The second guardian is you, Alice, born of the outside world. You have learned and come to love Wonderland — though lately you pretend otherwise. You are the second guardian Alice and I’ve waited forever for you, my other half. You know forever can be a very long time.”
Alice blushed and then upon realizing the great responsibility she now had, her face went white, “Why me? Is this why I have never been able to forget Wonderland all these years ? Am I to marry you, a man I don’t really know?
Wren grinned at Alice tugging gently on her hands as she tried to free herself from his touch; he chuckled, playfully. Alice began to smile too and as she peered up from their joined hands, she saw the row boat resting on a beach. They stepped over the side of the boat and the vivacity and colour of Wonderland surrounded her as they walked into the forest. The flowers greeted Alice immediately, so happy she had returned.
Wren stopped walking a moment, turning to face Alice. He was heads above her and tilted her chin up to look at him. “My Alice,” he began, “Magic is a curious thing. It can find the right people and draw them together. It has always driven me to you. I have loved you since I first saw you.”
“That makes no sense.”
“But it does Alice. You believe in magic, yes?” Alice nodded.
“Then you know. If you want magical things to happen, you must believe in them. We must believe in each other. And what’s knowing? People are together fifty-years in your world and they don’t know each other. Often, they’ve forgotten the magic — the love, between them. Here the world is magic and I will not forget you or our love.”
“Wren, I’m particularly fond of you. I’ve never felt this way, except about you, ever — only in dreams when you visited, when I felt you near somehow. Is that love and is it enough? And I’m only eighteen-years-old, how can I guard Wonderland?
Wren smiled and he gently pecked Alice’s lips.”We have forever. Forever is a thousand Wonderland years. All your old friends are here. Not those girls who were cruel to you for being you at school. Wonderland needs us both and you will soon know me as I know you. We will even know each other better than most people ever know each other. What you feel for me, I’m so thankful for. And yes it is enough, it is the beginning of love.”
“I’m not sure couples should always know each other better. Sometimes secrets are better kept,” Alice said thoughtfully.
“Dearest, we cannot have secrets. We have a responsibility but we have a haven in each other and perhaps much later, a child to carry on as guardian with another girl or boy from your world, when forever comes,” Wren stated stroking Alice’s cheek.
“I can trust you, Wren? I’d rather have the truth in a nonsensical way than an outright lie,” Alice said firmly staring at Wren.
He blushed this time, “I will be truthful to you —nonsensically and sensically.”
Alice smiled and kissed Wren’s cheek before saying,”You never said Wren, who do we guard Wonderland from?”
“From reality, Alice. From those who do not believe in magic. For those who would tell people love is not real and everything has to be logical and makesense. Though our world is much nonsense, we make moresense than the real world. There are always monsters in the midst and as you know, timehimself is often one of them. So are Queens and many tyrants, there is always a badguy somewhere I’m afraid,” Wren said a bit tiredly.
Alice stared at Wren, standing on her tippy-toes, and stroking his stumbled cheeks in comfort. She felt drawn to Wren, as if she were in a pleasant fog. Gently her lips met Wren’s for a kiss. He kissed her back more intensely and she could feel what she knew was passion between them; it was Alice’s first real kiss. They lingered a while, walking and teasing each other, stealing more kisses which were more difficult for Alice to step away from each time.
A stray thought occurrred to her as they walked, “Won’t my mother miss me?” Alice asked, “How can I leave her alone?”
“She will believe you married a wealthy heir and will be pleased, as that will be the truth; we can visit her often, though she will be gone for most of your lifetime.”
Alice nodded feeling sad, but realizing her duty with Wren. She wasn’t afraid, knowing he was with her. She knew their relationship was blossoming and would flourish, perhaps, with ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ as couples had — but perhaps, better. Their connection had been built her entire life.
Taking Wren’s hand, Alice walked off into Wonderland. How curious her home would be here with Wren and his green–eyes gazing at her with love, and the White Rabbit out of no where, jumping beside them.
Welcome back to my bi-weekly interview series. This week, I’m excited to share with you the creative, thoughtful, and accomplished writer Mark Reynolds. Please check-out his fantastic blog here: Coloring Outside the Lines.
1. Mark, Please Tell Us About Yourself?
Hello, I’m Mark Reynolds, a.k.a Coloring Outside the Lines. I live outside of Cleveland,Ohio on almost four acres of land with trees and gardens; the edge of a rural area. My Mom and Dad were from small farming towns in Western Ohio.
I’m a professional street-walker. Calling myself a Mailman sounds too boring. I’m also a traveler. I have the vacation time to find cheap flights to any place I want to go, South or West. I also play in the dirt or garden. I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature. We live with several critters such as birds, deer, turkeys, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. I play photographer once in awhile and I have plentyof photos of many creatures and all kinds of landscape.
2. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging?
Complicated question. I began writing as a freshman in College. I wrote short stories for awhile. I could do dream sequences well, but writing the dialogue and including substance in my short stories was difficult for me.
Then a couple decades or so later, I blew out my knee and was trapped on a couch for amonth with a leg brace; that was about a year and half ago. During this time, I started myblog cleverly with a web address ofAny1mark66. My blog changed after taking a WordPress Blogger University Course.
“I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature.” – Mark Reynolds
3. What Does Writing and Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
Writing is all about expression. Poetry for me is spontaneous writing. A stray thought orstring of words can be woven into an image. There’s a challenge to producing a particular feeling you can convey to others. The meaning of fiction for me….that’s personal!
Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters. Additionally, I write because it’s fun, and you can’t kill people in real life, but you can in a fictional story.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
I participate in several writing challenges. I especially like to mix music with fantastic writing using the lyrics in songs.Nature is also always available for inspirational ideas. And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneouswriting when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.
“Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters.” – Mark Reynolds
5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Like to Write? What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I write at several different times in a day. Poetry is usually, a morning exercise. Flash fiction and stories are easier to write in the afternoon or evening.
I’m finishing up some of my fictional serial stories. I am doing a rewrite of the fairy tale: Little RedRiding Hood which I call: Beware of The Red Cape. In my version, Red is not the small innocent girl you read about in most fairy tales.
My other serial writing project is about a stalker. The stalking begins at a soccer practice and we’ll just say, hasn’t ended yet. Or, maybe it has? I’m not sure yet. I’m still working the serial story out.
I also have a serial story about a Granny whose ghost has become rather strange, a bit crazy. My Granny character has changed slightly as the serial has developed. My characters like to tell me how they wish to be viewed.
6. Have You Attempted To Publish Any of Your Writing? Or Are You Planning to Publish Writing In the Future? Can You Briefly Describe Your Current Publishing Process?
I have been waiting to hear from a group doing a collection of stories from writers with Amazon self-publishing. I have submitted several pieces to this group.I have heard back twice and generally been told, ‘We are not looking for this now but we may contact you in the future.’ So, still waiting unfortunately.
If I understand the process of self-publishing right, I may have professional editing done and have Amazon recommend cover art for my book. It will be in the form of an E-book. I’m not buying a bunch of hard copy books upfront; Amazon does offer demand printing if I wish to go that route in the future.
“And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneous writing when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.” – Mark Reynolds
7. What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Prefer Certain Genres for Reading and Writing?
I suddenly, have an idea; I lose said idea. Then, my idea returns similar, but changed and slightly twisted. Next, I peck out my ideas on my phone or IPad. I prefer to write my entire story all at once. If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.
My preferred areas of reading include science-fiction books, suspense books, horror books, historical reads, science books, and books on nature. Although I write poetry, I have never read much of it.
8. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
Forget what you think you know about writing and write outside the boundaries of yourdaily life. If you have to research a bit about a subject or place and learn its history, it builds a greater depth of feeling in your writing. Researching and visiting places to come up with new ideas, or more in-depth ideas, will give you a stronger voice in your writing.
Oh yeah, fail at what you want (to write or do in life) once in awhile. Failure teaches a person things; no one ever learnt much from doing something right all the time.
“If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.” – Mark Reynolds
9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us About Yourself Or Your Writing?
I have a passion for spreading information on things such as the food we eat. We have terrible options for fresh food and for finding out what is actually in the food we eat from the supermarket.
Food labeling isn’t often correct and there should be laws to make the labels on the food a person buys truthful and clear. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are terrible for a person to ingest. You may disagree with me, but try dumping weed killer on your garden plants and eating them, its about the same. But of course it’s safe. Ask the people who made the weedkiller.
“A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOs are used to produce many medications and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and the production of other goods. . .
The Organic Consumers Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists,and Greenpeace stated that risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities. Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human healthfrom food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products.
Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply,effects of GMOs on the environment and nature,the rigor of the regulatory process,and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs,or concerns over the use of herbicides with glyphosate.” –Wikipedia: Genetically Modified Organisms
10. Can You Please Share Some of Your Favorite Pieces of Writing With Us.
“Jezzibelle! Jezzibelle! Where are you?” Mama calls out.
She washes her hands with lye soap as she looks out the open window. Mama is nervous about sending the girl off alone. She is of age now, but so easily swayed from her chores. Mama knows the family trait to do the easy gains runs deep in her. But Mama’s love can cure all ills. Her Mama told her the way to be. It’s that figure Jezzibelle is developing she is more concerned with.
Her own Mama has not responded to the traditional cures. Leaches have proved ineffective to her maladies. Herbal wraps have made her skin glow in the palest of white, lacking the rudiness of life. Charcoal chunks have pasted through her without taking the problem with them.
Mama shuffles through bottles of homemade wine. Dandelion wine, it’s pale yellow color and gentle flavor would be prefect for a picnic. Today it’s a message to get well. A smoked chunk of beef rests inside a burlap sack. Two half pieces of bread complete the basket. A single sage smudge stick wrapped inside kept out and bugs.
“Where is that girl? I shouldn’t trust her. My Mama isn’t getting better since Jezzibelle has taken over the role of care taker. I hope Jezzibelle isn’t a burden to her. Mama loves her so. The red cape of velvet came from her grandmother. It gave her a certain glow of vibrant womanhood at the young age. And I remember being that age….The day Derrick came to the farm…I could careless he was so much older. There are men waiting to get a hold of her. Her uncles tell me how much she would fetch us. Maybe the men know best. It’s a lot of money. She will need someone to keep her well.” Mama reflects on the regrets of life and what future her daughter will be strattled with.
“Mama, what is it. I was playing with Mindy’s dog. He’s so cute. I wish we could have that dog. He keeps the ghastly beasts from the forest at bay. Please, could we get one! I really think it would be best. They haven’t lost a single chicken in months. And I would…” Jezzibelle tries to plead her case.
“Enough child! You know what I need from you. Take that basket to grandmother! She hasn’t been by. She still bed ridden. You must take care of her for me. I packed it well. It’s early. The field and woods will be cool. Make haste child. If it gets too warm the animals will smell the food. They will stalk you, and steal the food. Those ugly old wolves might hunt you too. Take your cape! Grandmother will only recognize you in it. Her vision was really poor last week.” Mama is nervous and shaking. “Don’t you snoop around her corners! She will hear you! She doesn’t like snoops. You may get her home one day.”
“Mama, I love grandmother. Will she be ok? I fear she’ll die. I’ll never have her long enough. I want her to know my babies. I don’t want to live there without her.” Jezzibelle kicks at her feet and tries to avoid her mother’s gaze.
“Stay on the path! Don’t stop to talk to anyone! There are strangers who might want this food or try to take you away. A pretty girl like you needs to be careful around strangers.” Mama warns her.
“You worry too much, Mama. I’ll be fine. I have seen a few people in my trips. They know me now. They will help me.” Jezzibelle puts her hand on Mama’s arm.
Mama looks at her with a mix of unsure feelings and hope. Her heart lends itself to worrying about one thing at a time.
Thank You so much Mark for the interview. It was great to read about your writingprocess, your inspirations, and your thoughts on writing and other topics. Here is one more link to Mark’s Blog:Coloring Outside The Lines
If you would like to be interviewed on my blog and share with other writers and bloggers about your writing and the process involved with how you write and how youpublish your work, you can reach-out to me on my Contact Page.
Thank you to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this challenge and a card/picture which is centered around the sun and it’s use as a metaphor in life.
It’s early morning and the sky is tinged with an inky darkness. Out of the east brilliant colour begins to emerge. First the sky lightens, the navy washing out into a paler blue. The sun goddess brings a purplish hue to the sky which then begins to blaze with citrus orange; a red-pink hue completes the spectacular sunset. The goddess knows the sailors will complain about the pink hue; the suspicious lot of them.
She watches the sunrise, in all nature’s artistry, from washed out watercolour to colours aflame in brilliant acrylic. The colours become more pigmented and the sky itself turns cheery sky blue and the brilliance of the sunrise is replaced by the promise of a new day. A soft yellow glow on everything outside, reminding the goddess of the smell of lemons and a distinct feeling of happiness.
She spots her treasured swing in her secret garden. The fall leaves of tangerine orange, blazing gold, and brazen red, match her sunrise well. The goddess steps through the coloured leaves and walks to the swing. It’s warm enough that many flowers are yet blooming and some of the Autumn colours are enhanced by the grassy green of summer, holding on despite a chill arising as winter whispers.
Roses decorate the sun goddess ropes on her swing as she kicks out ageless beautiful shapely legs, then kicks her legs underneath her wodden swing. She keeps her pace gentle, pumping her legs at leisure and watching the sun provide hope to this part of the world; the renewal of light.
The blue sky is awesome and many people are out walking their dogs. It’s early and only the dogs see the goddess swimging. They approach her for a scratch and a hidden treat. Their kisses lap her face as she tries to avoid getting licked on the mouth. The goddess grins when the dogs wagging their tales, return to their owners, sniffing through the gathering of leaves on the sidewalk.
She lingers on the swing longer than she should. But there is a certain peacefulness in the morning hours she needs to make it through the day. She mentally calculates how much time she has, not long; other places in the world are eager to see the sunrise too. Yet in the cool of the morning air the goddess sighs.
Here is an enchanted place ready to see the crystal clearness daylight reveals, unconcealing those who hide in darkness. But in other places, darkness is safer, for in daylight there is no delight but harm as the shadows themselves strive to suck away the light. The sun goddess smiles because the sun always rises, the shadows never win.
When I was 17-years-old, my family moved out of our 850 square foot house (per level) because my family needed more space. My brother’s were big teenagers at 15-years-old and 13-years-old, we had a medium-sized dog named Nikki, plus my parents. The old house was too small to fit us all. Slowly, we packed up boxes, putting away books, trinkets, dishes, all items that held memories. The dog didn’t know what was going on but she remained in a confused hyper-alert state and came crashing through the room anytime a large item of furniture was moved. We moved everything ourselves, rented a big u-haul truck, and moved about 13 blocks closer to the River Valley into the house we live now.
Our old house was tiny. Even when we were little kids and I was 12-years-old it was small but my Dad had done a lot of work on our old house and I think it was a blow to each of us to see years later, the new owner had taken out the hedge that separated the garden from the lawn; sodded over the garden where we had grown every kind of vegetable — also these tiny but tart little strawberries; we saw that the new owner had taken down the deck and built a set of ugly steps up to the patio door; we saw he had chopped down the apple tree that we had grafted various kinds of green and red mouth-watering apple branches to; the new owner chopped down other trees in the front yard; and the little house that had never seemed a hovel to us, now looks like one because of him.
Inside the little house was a landing when you came in with steps going downstairs and short flight of steps going up to the kitchen. We had an oak table in the kitchen. There were oak kitchen cabinets and drawers against the far wall where half of the cupboards were oak and the other half were still the old 1940’s cupboards that were original to the house. My Dad had never finished that project.
Down a hallway from the kitchen was a peach bathroom Dad had redone when I was a little girl (smaller than 12-years-old) and a living room where we had ripped out the carpet to reveal a wooden floor. The living room had become the nicest room in the house with light green and gold sofas; a cream, green, and rose flowered carpet; and a runner of similar pattern to the carpet by the front door and closet. There was a piano in the living room that I hated. I hated to practice on it and hated it even more when my Dad started singing and practicing on the piano at 6:30 am on a Saturday for choir.
Down the hall were 2 bedrooms: the master bedroom painted light yellow where my parents slept, and a white room with a 90’s green carpet where my little brother slept. My brother’s room had a wide desk with 2 alcoves for seats and this desk covered the back wall. Both my brothers had been in that room at one time.
Downstairs was a small bathroom my Dad had built as well as laundry and a small pantry area to the left. Directly, in front of the stairs was my other brother’s bedroom that use to be my Dad’s office. It had grey carpet and white walls and was the perfect place for a boy who loved computers. To the left of that room was a playroom and TV room where we sat on old couches and watched tapes full of Disney movies that my Aunt had tapped off of TV.
And in the corner and to the left of that room was my bedroom. It was a room my Dad had built from a concrete storage area and when I was 8-years-old I moved down there and painted it a gorgeous bright light blue. This went with an ice blue carpet, a twin sized bed my dad had made with drawers when I was 4-years-old, a Barbie house, a dresser with a mirror, and too many spiders who visited too often.
When we drive by our old house now, we try not to look. It’s hard seeing what someone else did to your families hard work. I think my parents redid every room in that house at one time or another and if it didn’t look as nice in the end it’s because we were kids and kids are hard on houses and so are pets.
The backyard was the most beautiful area on our property. It was always covered in flowers and the garden full of wonderful vegetables like peas and carrots that the dog pigged out on. It’s nice to know where your food is coming from, that it is truly organic — even if it’s just for your dog’s sake. And my mom made jam, canned peaches, and frozen beans and peas. We had corn and other fresh produce in the summer, rhubarb, mint, dill, and tons of delicious apples that made so many crisps, pies, apple juice, and apple sauce.
But as Miranda Lambert sings ” [y] ou know they say you can’t go home again,” it’s the truth. That childhood home is no longer our home and only broken pieces of it remain in the yard and if I’m not mistaken, in the house. Still like Lambert’s song title, I believe ” it was the house that built me” and built my family into what we are today.
Before, I ever grew up to worry about things; before I ever had things to worry about were the days I spent out on my grandparent’s acreage in Brightview, Alberta. My grandpa was a pastor and their small quaint two story parsonage was next to a small church incidentally, where my Aunt Josie ( my godmother) was baptized.
The acreage was full of long green grass that my grandpa mowed with a large red riding mower. It was the height of all things to go riding on the mower with Grandpa, to hear the loud grind of the mower as it swiftly cut through the grass all along the parsonage and all along the church, back to the dirt road leading to the acreage. I would balance between my Grandpa’s skinny knees half sitting on the comfy black seat helping my Grandpa steer the mower. To start the mower was a clear scratched little white keychain of an owl attached to a key. The mower would start with a growl than cut its way through the grass slowly. I often had to take turns with my brothers riding the mower, which I was not happy about because that was one of the best things about going to my Grandparent’s acreage.
I remember one particular day dressed in a yellow and white dress; it was the height of summer and the giant garden my Grandparents kept was full of vegetables. I was about 3 years old wearing a white brimmed large hat, the kind women wore outside in the 50’s and 60’s, and the sun beat down on me on my smooth white baby skin and long blond hair. I could feel it’s heat but I was comfortable helping my Grandma pick vegetables from the garden while she was inside. I picked out crisp orange carrots and raw green beans placing them in a basket. Then when I had been outside long enough for my pale white skin my Grandma would call me inside and we would bake cookies, cut green beans, shell peas, and make raspberries into jelly; we would also do crafts.
Besides a giant garden ( or at least a huge garden to a 3 year old) were long prickly bushes of raspberries that I could run along and eat berries off the branches. But I didn’t run along the raspy raspberry bushes much, they cut my delicate white legs. Some summers there were so many raspberries that my entire family would have to come out – aunts, uncles, cousins, and spend a day picking the raspberries. My fingers were sore and dyed red by the end of this event but we would all have raspberry jelly, and fresh raspberries to take home to freeze to put into jello salads and raspberry crisps.
Beyond the large vegetable garden that held corn, potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, peas, and squashes, and parsnips, was another large garden. Walking through the foliage on a trail, my Grandpa and I would come across a giant strawberry patch. My Grandpa took care of this and we would often visit the strawberry patch in the mornings to pluck the small sweet strawberries from the bushes. Sometimes there were only a few strawberries sometimes there were tons. We would pick them and eat them if there were only a little but take bucketfuls to my Grandma in the kitchen for jam, freezing, and fruit plates if there were a lot of strawberries. After the strawberry trees were the apple trees, but I never went back there with Grandpa as there was too many bushes and bugs in the way of the trees; besides the apples were never ready to later in summer, after the strawberries were gone.
I loved going out to my Grandparent’s acreage because of these beautiful gifts of nature and the freedom I had playing outside. The first time my parents left me though, I was wearing a purple sweat suit and I did not know my parents would just take off and leave me there. I cried and cried and cried. But I sat on my Grandma’s lap on the stairs at the front entrance of the acreage and my Grandpa sat beside me and they promised me we would go outside, make cookies, do crafts, and play games. Eventually I believed them and was not happy to go home later on. My parents brought me a purple balloon but I wanted to sleep over at my Grandparents. Later I would, and such as at home I would go to sleep in the master bedroom and my poor Grandma would drag my pudgy toddler body upstairs to one of the two bedrooms – one with a slopped roof where my Grandma sewed and one with a double bed with light almost turquoise blue bedding and white sheets; that is where I slept. I enjoyed having my own room upstairs because I had to share a room at home but I would never have given up going to sleep in my Grandparents bed first, until I was at least 6 years old. When I was a bit older, I would come up to my Grandparents acreage for two weeks and go to vacation bible school in the mornings.
Vacation Bible School was held at the Brightview Church downstairs and my Grandpa taught the older kids in grades 5 and 6. I was happy he did though as his preaching although perfectly acceptable, was not my favorite thing at 5 or 6 years old. My Grandma would pack us lunches and she would pack me these little plastic margarita glasses full of pink mints wrapped in tule and tied with a curly white ribbon; left over wedding guest gifts I suppose. But I looked forward to those pink and white mints all through out Bible school.
At VBS children would learn about Jesus, do crafts, place stickers and colour in activity books, and play. I liked the other children and playing games and singing The Farmer and the Dell and Red Rover. But I have to admit, even at such a young age I felt superior to the other children because I was the Pastor’s grand daughter- funny how children think. After VBS, I would wait for Grandpa downstairs in the church and eat my lunch; then we would walk back to the acreage and it was back to lush fruit and vegetables, long grass, tractor rides, and doing things with Grandma.
But if I go back to that day when I was 3 years old, and wearing my yellow and white dress and big floppy white hat; it was the most important day, one I would not remember until I was 14 years old and my Grandpa reminded me. I was riding between my Grandpa’s knees on the mower helping my Grandpa mow and my Grandpa said:
“Pretty soon I won’t have a little girl to sit on my lap anymore?”
He looked at me gently an inquisitively. I remember thinking about my response and wanting to see my grandpa smile because he rarely did; I had also begun to become aware of the fact that my grandpa was getting sick, although I really did not know what this would mean yet.
So I said, ” Grandpa you’ll always have a little girl to sit on your lap.” My grandpa smiled the grandest smile I’ve ever seen him smile and hugged me. But the truth was, he was getting ill.
Later, when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old,my Grandparent’s moved into the city into a house they had bought in Clareview, where my Aunt lived in the basement. My Grandpa had retired from the Lutheran ministry at Brightview and the acreage was too much for them to take care of anymore. I missed it terribly, though I was in school at that point but still slept over at my Grandparent’s house whenever I could. I played a lot of games with my Grandpa and had become a good crib and excellent chess player for a time. In Jr. High I competed in chess two years in a row coming in second and third in a tournament in Calgary; this was after beating my grandpa twice at chess at his house. It was the only time I ever beat my Grandpa and it was when he was having bad days if I am honest. But somehow I learned to think 2 or 3 moves ahead in chess playing Grandpa, something I lost when he died and I could not practice as much.
When I was 13 years old my Grandpa went into the hospital for the last time – of course we always thought it could be the last time and this time was no different. Grandpa had emphysema from all his years of smoking. He breathed from an oxygen tank and became tired easily.
The second last time I ever saw my Grandpa my family was just about to leave and although I loved my Grandpa I was a snooty teenager ready to leave the hospital, to get back to grade 9. But Grandpa grabbed my hand and wrist tightly and said, ” I remember one time, when you were sitting on my lap and I asked if you if one day I’d still have a little girl to sit on my lap one day.” I had not remembered the moment till Grandpa grabbed my hand and he hung on so tightly with his frail old hand that I knew it was important. ” You said I always would, and I hope that’s still true” he begged me.
I could barely speak. The memory and the moment was so painful and I knew he was saying goodbye. He had paper thin skin, red eyes, and his breathing was raspy, and a big tube had been shoved down his throat for the longest time. ” Of course you do.” I managed and he tiredly let go of my hand before squeezing it tight.
I saw my Grandpa one last time before he died and he said he wasn’t doing too good. The morning of my 14th birthday my dad awoke my early. It was only 6:25ish and I wondered why he had woke me when he said with tears in his eye’s and most seriously that ” Your Grandpa passed away this morning?”
” Oh early, around 5 in the morning.” I cried into my day’s shoulder remembering the second last time I had seen my Grandpa.
On the day of the funeral, I was a pall bearer and rode in the limo with my Uncle Barrie my Godfather. He said to me ” You know Amanda, your Grandpa gave you the greatest gift on your Birthday, he wen’t to heaven; and he’s no longer in any pain.”
I did not think so at the time but my Grandpa did give me the greatest gift. Not only did he go to Heaven but he gave me a memory, a memory I will have of him until the day I die; a memory I can share with my kids when the time comes. You see my Grandpa, a Pastor loved God most of all but he also loved me, and this is something I never forget, something I always remember on my birthday. Next year will be 14 years, twice the age I was when Grandpa died, but the memories of Grandpa and his acreage, seeing Grandma still in church some Sundays, they give me hope and take me back to simpler times, and simpler days when I was only a child.