BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 27 birthplace and homeplace

I wandered far from Banner Mountain . . . far from the place where I was born.

. . . But never have I forgotten where I am from.

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My folks were one of the families of the Banner Mountain community whose houses nestled along a road that still is hard dirt, clay and rocks. Our address once was Route 2 and we had a mailbox number, which does not immediately come to my mind.

A few years ago, when 911 maps were introduced, the road by my homeplace was named Silver Rock.

My grandparents lived along this road in a house with a breezeway.¬†After my grandpa died, my folks with five children moved into the house with Grandma and my aunt.¬†My grandma’s house with a breezeway is the place of my birth.

The breezeway was converted into more rooms and though no one lives in the house today, it still exists as the homestead of my grandparents.

While my parents were living with Grandma, my dad built our homeplace nearby. When I was about one year old, the family moved into our new frame house. So the house Daddy built became home to me and I never left until I married at age nineteen.

With my husband I moved far, far away from Banner Mountain . . . I followed my husband in his travels with the Air Force . . . but never have I forgotten where I am from.
© Freeda Baker Nichols

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a painting of my homeplace by my sister, Yvonne Baker Hall. © copyright, Yvonne Hall.

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 25 “A Tough Old Bridge”

Train Bridge at Shirley, Arkansas

A Tough Old Bridge

The railway bridge at edge of my hometown
no longer hears an engine’s¬† chugging hiss,
no longer shakes with jar of clacking wheels.
Old-timers spin tall tales of how they miss
the whistle blaring near the mountain bend.
Though trains no longer cross the Little Red,
the bridge has earned the honor to remain–
iron-clad above the restless river’s bed.
The swimming hole beneath the overpass
attracts both old and young from off the ridge.
The local preachers hold baptisms there
in sight of that old tough and rustic bridge.

© copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #24 In the springtime

copy-cropped-cropped-homeplace.jpg                                    (Homeplace from a painting by Yvonne Baker Hall)

As I remember Banner Mountain in the springtime, I think of how the apple blossoms and plum blossoms greeted me as I returned from school. I might not have noticed the fresh blooms in the orchard as I left the house to walk up the trail to the Banner School. But always on my return, the orchard welcomed me back home from a day of ‚Äúreadin‚Äô, writin‚Äô, and ‘rithmetic‚ÄĚ and playing with my friends.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne and I at the homeplace, standing between the daffodils and the lilac bush. With two years difference in our ages, we were inseparable. Mama said that when I started to school that Yvonne was very lonely. She’d go outside and call for our dog, named Rusty. “Here, Rust! Here, Rust!” In a couple of years, though,¬†Yvonne joined me on the¬†walk to school. As time went by, Rust met his fate although I don’t recall when or how he died. Another dog named Fuzzy came into our lives, and he was allowed to go with us to school. He waited around¬†for us until school was out¬†and he hurried along as we headed back home. ¬†At the close of school for the summer when certificates were given to those completing the eighth grade, Fuzzy received a certificate, too. I don’t know how much Fuzzy learned but he was well-behaved and friendly to all.

The lilacs, the daffodils, and the orchard’s pink and white blooms were such a pleasant sight–the memory of which I still cherish from long-ago spring-times on Banner Mountain. ~~Freeda Baker Nichols

Bluebird

the bluebird flies purposefully

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 23 Birds

Birds of many colors
spread your wings to fly
upward to the treetops
on up into the sky.
Birds with sweetest voices
sing now across the way
begin a happy melody
in every heart today.

© Freeda Baker Nichols
redbirdMrs. RedbirdDowny WoodpeckerOld-world FinchBlack capped chickadeeTufted Titmouse - 2
bluebirddoveDSC_0308 (7)cropped-dsc_0187-21.jpgrobin-- cold morning - 1Eagle at Banner Mt.bluebird on rain gaugewoodpecker in flight

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 16

TEN CHOICESDSC_0746                                                                           Mystery Birds

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #13

WOODPECKER

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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.

Bluejayswoodpecker in flight

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