February In Kentucky

cardinals

February slid in on ice skates like an awkward adolescent. Ice crystals coat the walkways, the tree limbs, and my cheeks as I walk along the sidewalks cracked by magnolia roots. Bundled in hat, gloves, muffler, and ski jacket, the edges of the polar vortex turns my nose shiny pink.
Kentucky’s winter blue skies are hidden by gray clouds racing from Colorado to Maryland. I am thankful of our cheery gas fireplace where I cuddle with a book and cup of tea. The grand dogs lounge by the Aga stove downstairs, content to let their frozen paws warm with the constant heat.
Our cardinal family found the new bird feeder. Flashes of red come and go like autumn leaves carried by the wind. Perching in the rangy Chestnut tree by our deck, a juvenile bird waits as his vibrantly hued father picks through the seeds. His dull-colored mother is by the fence. The females are last in line for the offering my husband has spread on the patio table and scattered in the clear plastic feeder attached to our window.
February can’t make up its mind if winter is fleeing toward spring or extending icy fingers into March. I think the tropics are calling me.

2018 Holiday Blog Tour Stop #13

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“Welcome to Mountain Brook Ink’s 2018 Holiday Blog Tour! We’re excited you’ve decided to join us on this journey of family, friends, traditions and memories over the next month. You as our reader have done so much to pour into our lives, and this season we want t give back to you with insights into our lives AND some giveaways. The more days you follow, share, comment, and engage with us, the more entries you’ll have toward a Kindle Fire Grand Prize or one of three Amazon Gift Cards.”
My parents were married on Christmas Eve 1943. Dad was in uniform, mom in a white gown. There are no pictures, the photographer had the flu. After the war, when they were again together, they celebrated their anniversary with an early evening church service and a wander to friend’s homes to carol and share a homemade gift. It was a simple ritual of sharing their joy. It is one of my fondest childhood memories, the scent of fir boughs in peoples’ homes, the expectation on their faces as they opened the door to our songs.

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Opening an anniversary gift when we returned home from our wanderings was part of the family tradition. For my father, usually a book, for mom a single rose in a beautiful bud vase. One year, dad ordered twelve rose bushes to be delivered in the spring. In the summer months Dad would slip out before mom rose and have a rose bud in a vase at mom’s place at the table.
This is what love looked like for me. Friends, sacrifice, sharing, giving, and beauty.
Forbidden, with laughter, to have the 24th as our anniversary date, my husband and I wed on December 23rd. Like my parents it was between events. For them, Dad had a brief leave and mom had a week off from teaching. We married in the middle of Rod’s freshman year of medical school and my sophomore year of college. Through the years it has been difficult to escape the press of the Holy Season to enjoy one another’s company. The sweetness of being together has been enough to satisfy our souls.

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We caroled with my brother on the Christmas Eve when our parents were off celebrating their 25th anniversary. Then, for a few years we continued to sing door to door as Rod moved from the Air Force to residency to practice, but the caroling fell by the wayside. Perhaps due to Michigan snow drifts. Our daughter, however incorporates caroling in their family Christmas celebrations. During the advent season they gather friends and sing through their Kentucky neighborhood, presenting homemade cookies and joy.
Gathering people into our home for a light supper after the Christmas Eve service seemed to be more in tune with our lives. In Thailand in 1972 a fellow doctor was without family to share the holiday. I ran from apartment to apartment preparing a meal. My two-burner hot plate was not going to cook a chicken. Everyone around us got in on the fun of the crazy American running with hot pads from door to door.
Crab Bisque soup, fresh bread, cheese and a Buche de Noel is the usual fare when friends gather in our home. A treasured Christmas gift is the faces of friends and family around the table.
There is another tradition our family has adopted. Our son-in-law proposed to our daughter on a snowy Michigan December 23rd. Later, both our sons proposed to their future wives on the 23rd. It was an honor to us as well as to my parents. When our son, Rob, recently married, they also shared a Christmastime wedding date.

 


Last Christmas we gathered as a family to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary–this time in Kenya, where we have worked and the children have memories imbedded with grace. Seeing our grandchildren light up with joy as they sang carols through the pediatrics ward remains a sweet memory.

Stop in November 10 to visit Anna Zogg Blog for stop #14 on the Tour

Here is the full tour schedule: Stop #1: October 28 – Kimberly Rose Johnson
Stop #2: October 29 – Christina Coryell
Stop #3: October 30 – Mary Davis
Stop #4: October 31 – Angela Ruth Strong
Stop #5: November 1 – Susan Paige Davis
Stop #6: November 2 – Amy K. Rognlie
Stop #7: November 3 – Gayla K. Hiss
Stop #8: November 4 – Christa MacDonald
Stop #9: November 5 – Linda Hanna & Deborah Dulworth
Stop #10: November 6 – Richard Spillman
Stop #11: November 7 – Annette M. Irby
Stop #12: November 8 – Miralee Ferrell
Stop #13: November 9 – Jeanette-Marie Mirich
Stop #14: November 10 – Anna Zogg
Stop #15: November 11 – Teresa H. Morgan
Stop #16: November 12 – Kelsey Norman
Stop #17: November 13 – Barbara J. Scott
Stop #18: November 14 – Patricia Lee
Stop #19: November 15 – Linda Thompson
Stop #20: November 16 – Janalyn Voigt
Stop #21: November 17 – Cynthia Herron
Stop #22: November 18 – Trish Perry
Stop #23: November 19 – Heather L.L. Fitzgerald
Stop #24: November 20 – Sara Davison
Stop #25: November 21 – Taylor Bennett

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October Newsletter

 

October 2018 Issue 2
From Kenya to the USA, the world is a place of wonder

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A story has haunted me for years. It is about a woman’s journey from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the banks of the Osage River in Missouri. Her family was frontiersmen and women. The Willian Smith Bryan family came to the American shores in 1600’s when Cromwell and the Parliamentarians forced them from Ireland. They were given a choice, fight your Irish Catholic neighbors and family or emigrate. The rebellious Bryans were transported on a ship that sailed to Gloucester Beach, Virginia. There are two versions of this story. One, they end up in Pennsylvania after a son returns to Ireland in 1650 to reclaim their lands. The other, has the family fleeing to Denmark in the years of conquest when Henry II of England was given sovereignty of Ireland. I’m a novelist. I can choose which fits the narrative.
I’ve begun, halted, researched and traveled to Rebecca Bryan Boone’s homesteads. I’ve smelled the land, viewed the rolling Virginia hills, traversed parts of her journey to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. What escapes me is her voice. Was she curt, soft spoken, witty? If I model her after my grandmother, a descendant, she will be gracious and long-suffering. Does she have the gift of helps, like the woman called the saint of the neighborhood in her Oregon home?
Unearthing my manuscript, I’m making another attempt at telling her journey into the unknown. The world has heard of her husband Daniel’s adventures. It has been put into story and film from the Last of The Mohicans to folk lore, but the woman whose oldest son was murdered in a Kentucky clearing has been mute. I long for her voice to sing.
Every family has a journey, with hiccups, false starts and wanderings. What makes your story, sing?

 

Songs From September

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven

SONGS FROM SEPTEMBER

My garden dreams lie
unfinished
under a blanket
of burnt pine needles
and saffron leaves.
Rain without thunder
pelts
the chilled gazebo
and poison-green grass.
Grapevines twine
hemlock trees.
We hunt for pungent fruit
in forest foliage.
A summer reprise of
deep velvet nights
tourmaline days
drive us
to trim bushes
and fill
the wood box.
September has come
too soon,
before summer’s romance
fades
like my rose garden.

SISTERS: The Shape of Life

They came from Oregon to Chicago, traveling by coach and train over the smooth miles.
The sisters’ locks were now gray, their fingers gnarled with age. I met them in Michigan. My mother’s blue-green eyes sparkled with anticipation. She hadn’t been in Kentucky since World War II when my father was stationed at Fort Knox. My aunt had never walked the trails of her ancestors.
I had expected an unfolding of stories. The words came of their Kentucky born mother, and the tears she’d shed remembering the hollers of her Appalachian childhood.
From our days of wandering and meeting kin, grew poems.

The Kentucky River
sings
a plaintive melody.
The blood
of past battles
stains
dark rocks
as a woman
sips the landscape
with a dry soul.
Blue eyes
drink
the vintage
of whitened
palisades.
Misting
rain
splatters like blood
the name of a forebearer carved
in limestone.
A lifetime
of waiting
etches the wander’s brow.
Eighty-one years,
exact.