Journal Notes–1980

Spring is beginning to appear in lovely shades of yellow, pink, purple, white, red, green and a blend of many other shades — all spread out nicely under rays of gold and skies of blue. The tiny, blue flowers are up, a nice surprise of spring. Where have they been all winter? Lying dormant, deep under ground? DSC_0128
Many worthwhile stories are being written and I am writing none of them.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

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Banner Mountain Girl # 69

From my journal: “It is raining very hard. The sky is dark and heavy with clouds full of water. It is a day in which I am usually lonely, but today my heart is filled with joy that is lasting over into this dark and rainy day.”

I am a writer and I must write. Often, I wonder what is new to write? Even if, like Hemingway, I should begin with one true sentence, how would I complete a work that I haven’t even thought about? It’s amazing how sometimes my words and phrases tumble over each other to crowd the page, and other times, the page remains blank because a long, dry spell has control of my sub-conscious. Writer’s block is for real from time to time in a writer’s life. And it’s to be expected. As far as I can tell, there’s no quick cure for it.

Journal entry: “I have no creative thoughts but I feel compelled to write something. Drove out to Banner Mountain. Enjoyed the peacefulness of the woods. I always like to go back there.”

Going back to Banner Mountain is like going back home–the place I left at the age of barely nineteen. On an autumn day following our wedding and honeymoon, my husband and I loaded our wedding gifts into the car he had borrowed from an Air Force buddy and we began our journey in life together. A couple of days later, we arrived at Smoky Hill Air Force Base out on the Kansas plains–the countryside so different from my beloved Banner Mountain, with its woodlands, its songbirds, goldfinch on hoeand its kind and gentle people. I would meet other wonderful people as we followed my husband’s military career. I would live in other states in the United States and in one foreign country before my husband retired. After his retirement we moved back to Arkansas, back to the Ozarks to live not very far from Banner Mountain.  © Freeda Baker Nichols

Banner Mt.

 

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 38 A Journal Entry

Coreopsis in bloom on Banner Mountain.

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From my journal: “A nice sunny day, this 27 day of February 1991. I must get back to writing in a journal. That, at least, would help me get started back to creating stories.
Sometimes it’s easy to write, other times it is not so easy.
I hope that I haven’t written all the things I’m capable of writing. I hope I can get back to creating short stories soon. That is really my love, creating fiction–short stories, children’s fantasies and novels. That’s the real fun things to do in writing.
This Friday, Writers of the Foothills will meet. Our subject is War in the Persian Gulf. The war is almost over now. I feel relieved and will be glad when it is finally over and the troops are back home. ”  © Freeda Baker Nichols

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Banner Mountain Girl # 33

From my journal . . . dated 1980 . . . random thoughts

Days that come as bright as the golden sun filtering from a blue sky. Sun that filters from a blue sky. Sparkles of sun that sifts down in lines that eaglets follow. Birds opening their beaks, reaching for food. Worms. Food for birds. Birds singing. Happy birds. Birds have problems, too. Keep the cat away. Keep the people away from the nest of eggs or baby birds. Many kinds of birds. They sing with different melodies. They are beautiful. They are of many colors. Yellow, black, orange, red, blue, purple.

A million blackbirds flew over the house. They made a huge shadow when they were in the sunlight. They alighted on the bare limbs of the gigantic oak tree. They looked like big leaves on the tree. They all flew to the ground. They looked like a big black carpet.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

A bird in flight.

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 30 “MAMA”

MAMA

Her name was Laura Sephrona. She was my mama. I am the sixth of her seven children. Four girls and three boys. Her grandchildren called her Granny.
She braided her black silken hair and wound it around and around her head. Her eyes were blue-bonnet gray. She was short and plumpish when I knew her. In a photo, on a yellowed postcard with crinkled corners, she was dressed in a white blouse, trimmed with tatted lace and a long, black cotton skirt with a small waistband. She wore high top lace-up leather shoes.
She fell in love with daddy the first time she looked into his blue eyes.
In spring, she tended to corn, okra, and other vegetables in the meadow garden. She stored fresh red, round tomatoes in a lard bucket and hung it on a prong of the cedar post that cornered the back porch. The tomatoes were juicy and good, she said, sprinkled with salt.
Her tanned, wrinkled fingers once picked soft gray-white feathers from ducks squawking in rhythm to each yank of snowy down. The feathers made their way into the pillows that we slept on at night.
Mama milked “Ole Jerse” and placed the fluffy foam on pink tongues of orphaned kittens.

Ole Jerse

Sometimes she doctored me and my siblings with castor oil and she said, “Swallow this. It tastes good with sugar on it.”
I said nothing to disagree with her opinion because the weathered oak bench we were sitting on was beneath Mama’s blooming peach tree.
Mama quilted the quilts for our beds with fingers tender from being stuck by the sharp needles.
She built a fire in the wood stove to cook our meals. She wore an apron made from flour sacks. She wrung the necks of chickens to prepare our Sunday dinners. Sometimes the preacher came for dinner and she always served fried chicken.
She taught her daughters how to become keepers of our homes. By following her example and with the grace of God, the four of us maintained stable homes.
She showed us the milky way and taught us nursery rhymes about starlight.

“Wish I may, wish I might
have the wish I wish tonight.”

She wrote in my diary that “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Beside that, she added the Golden Rule. “Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
She taught us the Bible in many ways. By example and by a game she played with us by  asking what our dreams were and then opening up the worn leather cover of our family Bible to find these words “and it came to pass.”

And my dreams did “Come to pass.”

I became a writer, a wife, mother, grandmother and now a great grandmother.

My mama was the very best!  I loved her with all my heart and I cherish her memory!

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 17

Wild violets grew in the woodlands surrounding my homeplace at Banner Mountain.

Thinking of the wild violets, I remember how we children played a game using the flowers. We picked some of the violets and when we hooked two blooms together and pulled on each stem, one of the blooms snapped off its stem. We called them rooster flowers and that was a pretend rooster fight. Always a winner in that game.

Just as sure as real roosters, hens and bantam chickens were a part of our life at the homeplace, the rooster flowers were a part of our springtime. How beautiful the little blue-violet flowers were. I saw the violets and other lovely wild flowers every day when I was a child. They appeared early in spring, like magic.

I still recall the day my brother, Billy, brought home a little bantam rooster. Billy set him down in the barnyard.  And right away a big rooster ran over to the little rooster and began a fight.  Bill picked up a chip of wood and threw it at the big rooster. The chip of wood struck the big rooster and he fell over dead!  What now? That was Mama’s big, old rooster. Oh, no! I witnessed the entire event. Looking back, it was the only way that Billy could save his little bantam. The only way. Even though I saw it all, I was never called in to testify as to what had happened to Mama’s rooster.

And now, after all these years, I don’t remember what happened to the bantam rooster either. Did he grow old and die a natural death? I guess that’s not important. Perhaps my brother remembers. Sometimes a writer’s memory is called to a task of embellishing certain experiences. But not this experience. I can tell you that the chip of wood buzzed as it whizzed toward that bullying rooster!  Billy really didn’t mean to kill the big ,old rooster; he only meant to protect the little one.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

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BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–Post#7

Banner Mountain Girl—Post # 7
September 12, 1980: “I remember shyly waiting to see Mrs. Vacin, my high school English teacher to show her my poems. She was never available and so I forgot about trying to talk to her. I mentioned to one of my classmates that I liked to write, after I found out he had written articles. He had moved to my school from the city, and I was interested in his ability to write, so I spoke to him about it. He said he thought I looked like a movie star and he named her. He moved away and I never heard from him again.”
But he was the first person with whom I shared my passion for writing. My desire to write was becoming real, like the Velveteen Rabbit. I was happy.
However: “The writer within me seems to be like a bird that flits in and out, appearing now and again in my life. Comes and goes. Comes and goes. I have worked more steadily and persistently with my writing the past five years than I ever worked in my life. I thought it would be easy, that ideas would flow and that I would soon find success. Not only is it hard to get the words written, there are numerous hours of revision, packaging and mailing and waiting for the reply. Then being discouraged when my manuscript is returned and getting over that so I can try again. Is it worth it? No. But I must continue! The drive within me was placed there as a natural part of me. I have to go forward to meet its demands.”
“The day is a peaceful, autumn day with breezes strong. Leaves and acorns falling from the oak trees, the sun appearing and disappearing, playing hide and seek with the breeze. The autumn is my favorite time of year. I wish it would last about six months and that I could work with my writing every day.”
#becoming a writer . . .

© Freeda Baker Nichols