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
The Tomato Hole was a pool of water in a little branch that ran through our pasture and across the road a short distance from our house. The water was deep enough for us kids to swim. This swimming hole got its name from the tomato patch our dad planted each spring. While I never thought about it when I was small, we had our very own swimming pool right there at Banner Mountain. Surrounded by nature. Along with tomatoes growing nearby, delicious Muscadines hung on vines on the banks of the branch. Pines and cedars, oaks, wild cherry trees, and maples made up the forest. Privet bushes shaped like umbrellas popped up everywhere. When in bloom they were covered in tiny flowers.
Not only did we swim, we also caught “crawdads”. Frog eggs and tadpoles were abundant and exciting to find. And we loved playing with frogs.
My cousin and I once thought my younger sister was about to drown when she was trying to get away from a snake. She tried climbing up the bank and kept sliding back into the water. We reached for her hands and helped her up the bank. Heroically, we “saved” her. I don’t remember if we told our parents, and if we didn’t, it might have been because we feared they’d forbid us to ever swim again at the Tomato Hole. And that would have been a tragic end to a magical part of our childhood. For sure!
© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols
Books have always been important to me. I still have a children’s book my first grade teacher gave me as a gift. “The Little Red Hen” I loved that story.
When I was about thirteen years old, a sweet neighbor lady gave me the gift of a young-adult novel. “Mimi’s House Party,” by Anne Pence Davis. It was my first real book. I wish I still had that book but I have no idea what happened to it. A few years ago, I ordered a copy of it from Amazon. But it came without the attractive dust jacket. It came as a used book from a library. Very plain without the jacket. Glancing through the story, I can’t say I recall even one line or one scene in the novel. I do recall being happy to have a book of my very own.
Time went by . . . I grew up out there on Banner Mountain. My older siblings left home to seek their fortune. The day came when I married and left my beloved homeplace, too. Said “So long for now” to my most wonderful parents and joined my husband, the man of my dreams, in his travels with the Air Force, his career choice.
Years went by . . . each of our four children was born in a different state. When my husband retired from the Air Force, we returned to Arkansas and settled down not very far from Banner Mountain.
In 2012, I wrote my very own first novel. My younger sister, an artist, painted the cover. One of my daughters helped me choose the title and she and my other daughter proofread and critiqued for me. Also my critique group offered many good suggestions. Creating and publishing this book has been an amazing adventure. Because I self-published, it’s not yet on Amazon. But it may be ordered directly from me. It may be ordered here.
My novel is a Christian Romance. It’s family-oriented. I’ve had fun writing and publishing it. I hope readers find it worthy of their time spent in reading it. I’d say it’s just right for a rainy day read to lift your spirit.
Whether you order it or not, I appreciate you as a follower of my blog. Bloggers need readers, just as authors do. Watch for my next installment of Banner Mountain Girl. 🙂
This red-bellied woodpecker has grabbed a bite of food and is lifting off in flight to wherever he is nesting. The ever-present sparrow at the lower right corner of the photo huddles quietly, awaiting the departure of the bossy woodpecker. Blue jays are often rude and aggressive wild birds, but even they move away from the woodpecker when he flies in.
I don’t recall woodpeckers at Banner Mountain. But they probably were there. My favorite birds were the mockingbirds and the whippoorwills. I remember the red-tail hawk that circled the sky, whistling, and looking for chickens to catch. Mama sent me outside many times to scare the hawk away. We had lots of sparrows around our homeplace. And there were quail. Crows, too, and owls. The hummingbirds were the most entertaining. They hovered over the honeysuckle and raided the sweet nectar in the colorful hollyhocks that Mama planted by the garden fence. Once I found an abandoned bird’s nest that hung down from a limb like a sock. I don’t know what kind of bird built the nest. But it was an awesome find for a child who would grow up to become a writer with a big imagination.
© Freeda Baker Nichols
I am a writer, and I write. Racehorses run races because they are compelled by forces larger than themselves and writers write because of an inner force too strong to be ignored. I write to fulfil a need that I believe I was born with–a desire to put words into stories and poems, to create situations and re-live experiences in order to share with others. I write for fun and for profit.
When the wellspring within me overflows with ideas, I grab a pen and paper and write the ideas down. I pay attention to detail, to unusual happenings, to unique and common conversations. People are interesting to me. I am one of the many inhabitants of this earth. I write to communicate with others.
Writing is therapeutic but that’s not the reason I write. In fact, I won’t write when I’m extremely sad because I don’t want sadness to show through and discourage others. Optimism is what I want to express through my words.
I write for fun although some of my better poems came from unhappy times in my life. Some of my most frustrating episodes turn into humorous stories or poems. How can sitting at a desk, writing, be fun, asked my super-active youngest son who is a plumber, by trade. A daring child when he was a youngster, his idea of fun was spinning the tires of a four-wheel drive truck deep in mud along the riverbank.
Through writing, my reader and I can go into dangerous areas without leaving our homes. And I have fun.
I write for profit, although writing has not been very lucrative. Still, I attempt to earn money with writing. And I wind up with pocket-money, at least.
To entertain with words is my goal and I feel like an actress on a stage. I want to be good at writing, to be remembered as an author who caused others to read, to laugh, to cry. I want my readers to be encouraged, to believe that life must be lived to its fullest, that precious time must not be squandered.
I like to draw and to paint and would have enjoyed being an artist. I have no time for art because something compels me to write, keeps me at it, and won’t allow me to be disheartened for long.
That “something” drives me, has driven me since I was nine years old. Sometimes, it hides from me temporarily, but it always returns and heads me back toward the green meadows, it takes me over purple mountains, it allows me to watch an eagle glide, and sustains me through all my winters and summers.
A racehorse races because he can.
I’m a writer. I write because I must. I have no choice.
cCopyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols