Monday, October 22, 2018

Today's poem by Ted Kooser

                 Father

Today you would be ninety-seven
if you had lived, and we would all be
miserable, you and your children,
driving from clinic to clinic,
an ancient fearful hypochondriac
and his fretful son and daughter,
asking directions, trying to read
the complicated, fading map of cures.
But with your dignity intact
you have been gone for twenty years,
and I am glad for all of us, although
I miss you everyday - the heartbeat
under your necktie, the hand cupped
on the back of my neck, Old Spice
in the air, your voice delighted with stories.
On this day each year you loved to relate
that the moment of your birth
your mother glanced out the window
and saw lilacs in bloom. Well, today
lilacs are blooming in side yards
all over Iowa, still welcoming you.

Ted Kooser from Delights & Shadows 2004 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Quote du jour/Adam Frost

There's one thing I'm going to do next year. I'm going to celebrate all the things that go right and not worry about the things that go wrong.

Adam Frost on Gardeners' World (I watch on Britbox.)

He was talking about the garden, but honestly they are such good words about life in general.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Stillmeadow - September

I realized that I have gone through most of The Book of Stillmeadow without noting Gladys' poems at the beginning of each month. Here is September's.

Song for September
Not that I ever had her for my own,
Quick in the house I heard her running feet,
Watched the door swing, garnered a sentence blown
Back to my stillness, "Friends I have to meet."
Nor that I knew her, never her secret thought
Came home to me, nor how she dreamed. I knew
Each growing year the size of clothes I bought,
And that her favorite sweater set was blue.

Now sober reason counsels me again,
This was not yours that goes beyond your sight.
Knowing this well, I must perceive with pain,
The bough is empty when the bird takes flight.

Bravely my mind assures me nothing's lost,
But oh my heart admits the killing frost.


Whew! That is deep and so poignant. I think that each monthly poem was generally more wistful, or upset than the prose entry. That's the thing about poetry, isn't it? It can often come right from the heart onto the page. There can be a depth that prose doesn't often touch.

Though my kids are now in their 30s, I still remember those periods of melancholy as they grew up. I had a friend who said of Margaret that she thought she would end up in Los Angeles. What pain that little sentence gave me. You just don't know where they will go. I am thankful every single day that my kids are so close, and that they love the home and the state where they grew up. Lucky, lucky.

This is one of the remarkable things about reading Gladys Taber, all these years after she wrote. She was born in 1899. Her daughter Connie was born in 1927. They are both dead now, but the feeling expressed in this little poem still strikes a chord in a parent's heart, as do all Gladys' essays. This has to be a sign of genius - that your words continue to resonate throughout the years.

So many of us seem to love the month of September.
September wind blows away the fatigue of summer heat, and the listlessness of August weather.
Fatigue and listlessness. Those are great words to describe this past summer. And September was a welcome relief, until we had a reprise of that weather for a few days. The difference was that I knew it wouldn't go on for ages, and the nights were cooler.

Even in my childhood I remember those few hot days that came back in September. I'd be walking home in my wool kilt (anyone remember them? and kilt pins?), simply boiling but I just had to wear my new school clothes no matter the weather!

It is certainly a month of changeable weather. Gladys says,
The September rains are something I just live through. The rain falls straight and dark and heavy and the leaves on every tree and bush are beaten down by the weight. The early-turned leaves are lost now. The rain seems sad, meaning the end of summer days. 
But she goes on,
I don't see how this month can be so exciting and at the same time so sad. It is like the second-act curtain in the play of summer. And every day you feel like begging the play to go on a little longer, before the floodlights go out, and summer is gone.
But there is excitement too. The dramatic first flame of maple, the burning gold of the goldenrod, the coming of the first wild blue asters and the richness of ripening pumpkins. Even the air seems to have color in it; one breathes the color, and the heart beats with it.
I am always frightfully sentimental now. Whether the second-act feeling is responsible, or the color goes to my head, I don't know. But I really go all out with sentiment. 
One of her "sentiments" is so lovely.
I wish we could put up this late summer sunlight in jars. If we could only pack it, clamp the bail down on the glass, set the pressure cooker for, say, ten pounds, and process jars and jars of bright, fresh, mellow sun. I can see how it would look with the jars ranged in the fruit cellar beside the chicken and piccalilli and tomato catsup. And on a dark January day we would bring up a quart or so of sunshine and open it and smell again the warm dreamy air of a late-summer day.
Isn't that just wonderful? It reminds me of my favorite Greg Brown song.



I actually put the lyrics on the blog eleven years ago when I'd been blogging just a couple months.

The Book of Stillmeadow was published in 1948, but the essays have copyrights dating from 1937. Gladys was writing about getting wood together for the winter, when suddenly she says,
We acquired some wood this month at a fearful cost. A small private hurricane descended on us, and in ten minutes took down all the old apple trees in the backyard. Wind and rain made a roaring darkness around the house. A window crashed in and water poured clear across the room, and presently the electric cables to the house were reft away and the place plunged into darkness. ... When day came I looked out on the back yard and felt sure my heart was broken. All the lovely old apple trees, so sweet with bloom in the spring, were sprawled on the grass. Only two were left at the edge of the lawn.
It was an eerie feeling to read this, as I had just seen in the September installment of the Friends of Gladys Taber (which you may read about here) that this past May a tornado went through Southbury, Connecticut. Luckily, the house was spared but a lot of old trees came down, including pines that Gladys had planted in 1938 to replace those 13 apple trees!

After telling Tom about these two things, he began reading Thirty-Eight The Hurricane That Transformed New England by Stephen Long. He thought it was a terrific book. I plan to read it myself sooner than later.

Gladys ends her September essay beautifully with a paraphrase of Keats' words.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too
It has been a little odd for me writing this in the middle of October, but September flew by. Soon, I hope to write about October, the last month in this book.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Aprons

I saw this on Facebook, and I just knew some of my readers would so love it.

The History of 'APRONS'
I don't think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.
They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love
---Hawk Seeker of Truth---

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Today's Nature Cam Picture/Coyote and wild turkeys

I decided to make a label just for the nature cam photos so they would have their own place here on the blog. The camera is still on the outside corner of the fence by the road.

The time is off on the pictures. We have to check into the setting.

I'm thinking this may be "our" lone coyote that was in the first nature cam picture I put up here. He must have a trail because there he is in the same place in both September and October. There is a whole life going on while I'm asleep!





I am exceedingly fond of turkeys, which I am sure I've written here before. They are a huge success story in my state. The last sighting had been in 1854!! There is a great article here if you are interested.



And here are a couple pictures of not-so-wild creatures!