Sometimes when snow fell at Banner Mountain, my mother would look out at the big, white snowflakes peppering down and she would tell us kids, “The old goose is losing her feathers.” That expression coming from Mama was a pleasant thought but of course we kids were old enough to know it was a game Mama played – a game of make-believe. Why not just say, “Oh look! It’s snowing!”
A sky full of feathers falling off a goose nudged my imagination and gave me a reason to dream. That image was far more motivational than “Look at the big snowflakes.” Perhaps Mama’s way of entertaining us was the beginning of my desire to become a writer. Mama herself was inspirational to me. She always said I was happy with a pencil in my hand and a tablet to write on. My love for my mama and her love for me is the reason my first poem was written to her and about her. I wrote it at school in cursive on a page in my Big Chief tablet when I was nine years old. And then I shared it with Mama. While I was not certain my little rhyming poem was as clear to Mama as it was to me, I’m thankful she was the first person, besides my teacher, to read my very first creative writing. At that time, there was no fridge in our house on which to pin up the poem, like parents can do today. But Mama kept it for me, and I still have it somewhere in my files.
The Trent boys drove their dad’s old gray Ford truck
to town each Saturday to buy their goods
and groceries from Privitt’s Mercantile;
I worked there Saturdays from eight to four.
My eyes caught Cade the older of the two,
and I was plumb near dumbstruck lovesick blind
the way Cade’s sparkling eyes returned my gaze.
He caused my heart to summersault in flips,
my face to feel beet-red like flames of fire.
He handed me the cash for goods they bought
and turned to Luke, who now smiled wide enough
to show a row of teeth unmarked by Skoal.
Cade looked from me to him and said, “Here, Luke,
load up,” and quickly handed him a sack
of Idaho Irish, white potatoes.
“Naw, you load up,” Luke said to Cade and smiled
at me as though I were some beauty queen.
Luke stood nearby and watched me counting change
and grinned at me the entire, blessed time.
I checked my petticoat and nothing showed.
My face still hot, I took the dipper gourd
and dipped myself a drink from wooden pail.
Luke stepped up close; I trembled as he held
the bucket while I plunged the dipper down
into the water once more, offered him
a tasty sip this time. “Thank you,” he said
in tones as rich as mountain muscadines.
Cade blended somehow into burlap bags
and boxes, calico and denim bolts.
“Like to go see the picture show?” Luke asked,
the minute he and I were left alone.
“Well, yes,” I said, so eagerly I feared
he would recoil at any minute now.
He grinned again and I saw that his eyes
were bluer than his brother’s eyes, and he
was inches taller than his brother, Cade.
While movie actors talked, Luke held my hand.
As he drove home, I sat right next to him.
My ride in that old gray Ford logging truck
was fine as Cinderella’s in her coach.
I WISH I COULD . . . put my bare feet into a stream of water and be a child again.
Yvonne & Freeda Baker
I wish I could feel the sun warm upon my back as I walk barefoot down a dusty road in summer.
I wish I could touch the velvety soft moss that grows in the woods, and hear again the crackle of dry leaves under my feet. Heaven is here on Earth in the forests. Nature is the pure, clean sparkling beauty that God gave us to enjoy.
I wish I could . . . hear again . . . the whippoorwill across the hollow on a still, warm night. And the mockingbird that perched on the roof of the house, singing sweetly, when I returned from a date.. . . the sounds of my happy teenage world.
I wish I could see again the morning sun upon the tall, thick yard grass in the spring at Banner Mountain.
My happy memory–the wonder of love in my heart for God, my love for Nature and for the people who love me.
Banner Mountain Girl—Post # 8
From my journal . . .
5 October 1978–Today, it came – my first acceptance by a publication—a letter from “Home Life” says they are accepting my manuscript entitled, “We’re home!” With tears, I bowed my head and thanked God for making all things possible. None of my family knows that I’ve had this manuscript sent off, and I want to wait until we are all together this week-end to tell them. The story I wrote began thirteen years ago, in Michigan. I re-worked it recently. It seems to me, although I’m not sure and can’t remember for certain, that it was rejected by “Home Life” a few years ago. My creative writing classes have helped me immensely. It has been a long time and I have been discouraged many times but I hope with all my heart that I can open my heart and share, through my writing the way I feel about life, the precious gift from God to all of us.
30 October 1978—I received a check in the amount of $33.00 for my story, “We’re Home.” It will be in the August/79 issue of Home Life.
(Note: The editor changed the title to a more appropriate one, “A Family Bivouac.” It can be read on my blog by searching for “A Family Bivouac” in the Search window. Or click on this link https://freedanichols.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/a-family-bivouac–
Until next time . . .
Thanks for reading,
Freeda Baker Nichols