GOING HOME

GOING HOME

My plane is airborne, headed south.

Memories march in and out of my mind–

like dogface soldiers.

I’d said goodbye to Mama, then Daddy,

who bent to hug my three year old son

not very long ago.

Emotion struck Daddy like blows.

He straightened, then turned too late

to hide moist eyes.  His blue eyes had

laughed when I was my son’s age.

Youth disappears like the dandelion fuzz

on the face of the wind.

Adams Field is windy . . . but the

planes’ wheels touch the runway

in a smooth landing.

“No, son, Papa’s not here . . .

to meet us.”

Uncle Jim’s brown pickup needs washing.

“Your mama’s taking it bad, ” he tells me.

“Is the wake at the house?” I ask.

He nods. “Like your daddy wanted.”

At the doorway, someone takes my

little boy by the hand.

“The casket’s gray. I never saw Daddy

in a coat and tie before. He’s so cold-looking.

Mama? Mama!”

Her warm arms engulf me.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

Daddy

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 11

Banner Mountain Girl #11

On Banner Mountain, I stand looking at the house, now empty, with brush around it, deserted, falling down. I see the well still covered. I listen for sounds of laughter. Echoing from the past, the sounds ring in my heart. In a flash of memory, someone’s drawing water from the well—and as I look at the house, I wish I could be a child again and put my bare feet into a creek. I wish that I could feel the sun upon my back as I walk barefoot down a dusty road. That I could touch velvety moss in the woods and hear dry leaves crackling.

And draw water from the well.

I wish that I could hear the whippoorwills across the hollow on a warm night. And that I could sit on the front porch again with Mama, Daddy, my sister Yvonne and my brother Bill. Just sit there, not talking much. Then wander into the yard, trying to stay cool. Wash my feet in a pan of cold water and go into the house and go to bed. And see again the morning sun on the tall, thick yard grass, and look at hollyhocks that Mama planted beside the fence.

Draw water from the well.

Watch Mama milk Old Jerse, and later help Mama churn butter in an old-fashioned churn with a dash. Watch Daddy plow the fields. I wish I could once again trade a warm egg to the peddler for bubble gum. Meet Piggy, the mailman, at the mailbox to see what delightful cards, catalogs and letters he would bring. Read again the letters from my best friend, Inez, that Piggy delivered the same day by hand-canceling the three-cent stamp. See Mama sitting in the shade of the peach tree, shelling beans, then stopping to read a letter from my brother when he was overseas during the war.

I remember growing up, and, with Inez, Doris, and Lois Jean, watching for the boys to go by. I remember pie suppers and boys collecting money to buy the cake for the prettiest girl. I recall dinners on the ground, the taste of coconut pies. People visiting. Children playing and laughing. Time unhurried. I cannot be a child again, but I’m thankful for Banner Mountain – whippoorwills, picking cotton and drawing water from the well.

~© Freeda Baker Nichols

 

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 10

Banner MountainBanner Mountain Girl # 10

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!”

            Too dull-sounding.

             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.

© 2017 Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–#9

I WISH I COULD . . .  put my bare feet into a stream of water and be a child again.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Beside the Creek in Autumn

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.dsc_0081dsc_0085

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. dsc_0661
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.

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BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL

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

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #Post 6

Banner Mountain Girl — Post # 6
From my journal, dated 28 Sept. 1982: “I do not know how to become a famous writer. I don’t care whether I am famous. I would like to write the stories I always wanted to, but it seems I can’t begin them. I do not know where all my desire to write is now – it seems to have vanished. I could not work out a solution to keep writing.”
Up and down, back and forth, topsy-turvey, creative juices flow and subside and flow again. Year after year. Then, looking through a 1975 Journal, I find this: “All the seasons have beauty if you look for it. The spring—everything is tender. In the summer, it’s full grown . . . in the fall—everything is all colors,” Roxie’s voice trailed off and she did not speak of winter. (Roxie Huggins, a dear neighbor of my family on Banner Mountain) After re-reading this, I pick up my pen and paper.
My Journal entry in 1982: “Weather is cool. Nice.
Happy is a word – an emotion. It’s what people want to be.
Lonely is what people dislike to be. It’s what I am a lot of the time.”
#becoming a writer . . .
Watch for the next post of Banner Mountain Girl
© Freeda Baker Nichols

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL–Part Five

Banner Mountain Girl – Part Five

From my Journal, dated 8 Sept. 1977: It’s lonely, trying to write. I have no one to share with, no one who understands what I do. I don’t know why I want to write. I feel I must write. A writer must have patience, persistence, desire.
From my journal, dated 1 Oct 1977, Saturday:
The desire to write has been a part of me for so long, surfacing every now and then in painful attempts to write something for others to read, but always being pushed back inside where it lies dormant until something revives it. I’m not succeeding with anything– not yet, except letters to the editor, but even those were a beginning, a thrill for me because they were well-spoken of, and talked about on the radio and reprinted in other papers. I felt joy because of those published pieces. I would like, of course, to write something for money– something that would stand on its own merit and become an article widely read and one that people would like and understand.
13 Sept. 1977: Life of a writer is a lonely road, open at each end. Do I go forward and find new rewards or retreat to familiar places? I, alone, can make the choice.
28 July 1978: I mailed my story, “Tadpoles Can’t Bite,” to Homelife today. I hope they like it and use it.
1 Sept. 1978:” Tadpoles Can’t Bite” didn’t impress the editor who read it but I still think it has a lot of value and placed in the right hands, it will make it to the people.
© 2016 Freeda Baker Nichols