Old Sport Loved Peanuts

The peanuts grew on the bank of a stream that gurgled through the south pasture of our farm at Tame Valley.  My siblings and I had to help pick the peanuts when it was harvest time. I hated pulling the vines from the clinging, dark soil. I didn’t like shaking the dirt from the plants.  So I complained a lot. Didn’t do any good. I still had to help.

I preferred playing with our dogs, Old Sport and little Brownie. But I couldn’t play until all the peanuts were harvested.  Mama told me not to let Sport eat the peanuts.  He liked peanuts. But I knew Mama thought our big family would need them for snacks. So I obeyed.

Later, that winter our family gathered in the living room when snow fell like goose feathers flying through the air.  Mama parched peanuts in a tin pan on the wood stove.  The peanuts tasted so good, warm and salted.  When Mama wasn’t looking, I was tempted to drop some peanuts on the floor for Sport.  But I didn’t.

And I regretted it because Sport died the next spring before planting time. When I got older, I knew that if Mama had known Sport would die, she would have given him her share of the peanuts.  And I would have given him mine also. © Freeda Baker Nichols

Banner Mountain Girl # 67 from my journal . . .

from my journal . . .

Dark clouds were forming in the west but Kimberly still sat quietly in the sand. As the waves rushed toward the shore, touched it, spraying a fine mist over her, she dug her toes into the warm grains of sand, recalling Whitman’s words the night they met.

“Look, Kimberly. Over there, above the shimmering sea.”

She followed the direction that he pointed and she saw the harvest moon, silver and bright, and she thrilled to the rich tone of Whitman’s voice as he said, “I’ll give you that moon.”

She wanted to laugh with him, but she couldn’t. Something prevented her from feeling the joy that was so much a part of Whitman. He was a penniless poet and yet he seemed to be happier than she and Tony.

She was engaged to Tony. He offered her love, security, and wealth.

“I’m sorry, Whitman,” she had replied that night. “I can’t accept the moon. I’m engaged to Tony.”

“Ah, yes,” Whitman said.

She had laughed and he had laughed and the joy she felt was much greater than any feeling she had shared with Tony.

She ended her engagement with Tony and after time went by, he met and married Sarah.

Kimberly saw Whitman almost every day and she expected him to propose to her but there was no mention of marriage although he claimed to love her dearly.

So dearly that he gave her the stars along with the moon and that made her happy in a way that Tony never had.

Time passed and Tony and Sarah had a child, a little girl and people said that Tony adored the baby and that they were a happy family.

Whitman wrote poetry and he continued to be penniless but his poetry spoke of love and laughter, the moon, the stars and the sea.

Kimberly waited and she cried when Whitman wasn’t with her.

One day he said, “It’s over.” And he kissed her gently and said goodbye. He left and her heart felt like crushed velvet in an old-time dime store.

“Don’t go! It’s soon!” Kimberly cried.

The dark clouds hovered closer. And herpexels-photo-556666.jpeg heart declared, “The pain that’s in goodbye cries, ‘Look up, Whitman, see the dark and brooding sky? Where, Whitman, where is the silver moon?'”

© Freeda Baker Nichols



Coreopsis in bloom on Banner Mountain.


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

DSC_0705 -2

When an Editor Asks

A Time to Mourn
When a newspaper editor asked me if I’d be interested in writing a column for the paper, and went on to say I could publish stories I’d stock-piled, even my fiction, in the form of a series, that is when I became excited and answered, yes!
The excitement grew stronger when I actually saw the title to one of my favorite stories in the local paper. And it was really great when friends told me they read the first installment and couldn’t wait to read the conclusion.
My excitement went over the top when my grandson, who is a high school senior, told me his friends read it and then he proceeded to tell me through Facebook what a talented author I am. How awesome! Readers of all ages! Talk about a pleased grandma!
I’m so thankful the editor of the Van Buren County Democrat showed an interest in my writing because I certainly am interested in writing the column for my hometown weekly newspaper—the Van Buren County Democrat!

Excerpt from Giveaway Novel by Nichols

“Call of the Cadron” is the title of my book. The Cadron is the name of a creek in Arkansas, which is the setting for this fictional story that takes place in 1983.

Here is an excerpt:

(Garrett remembered her face in the moonlight that night beside the creek as its waters sang in hushed tones. You are my love, Jordan, and you must meet me at the place where hearts unite despite the obstacles. You must, Jordan. I hear our destiny in the singing of the Cadron. Surely, you can hear it, too, my darling.)

For a chance to win a copy of my book, look for the post, “Call of the Cadron–Give-Away” and leave a comment in the comment section below the post. Winner will be announced Monday.  Thanks.  #giveawaybook

Calendars are for . . .

Freeda Baker Nichols, writing on porch of the Pfeiffer House at Hemingway Writers' Retreat

Freeda Baker Nichols, writing on porch of the Pfeiffer House at Hemingway Writers’ Retreat

keeping notes. For reminding you of places to go and places you have been. They tell you that time is marching on . . . does not stand still.

I suppose no one really wants it to.

I wish I would use my time to write poetry and stories that would bring peace, happiness, joy and all good emotions to people who read my creations.

I wish I could write humor.

Freeda Baker Nichols

NaBloPoMo#20 Pictures, Prose and Poetry

cowboyMy blog seems to have turned into pictures, prose and poetry.
As an amateur photographer, I love picking that one good shot out of ten snaps.
I feel the same about poetry.  I might write ten in order to get one that interests an editor or a contest judge. Pictures and poems are fun to work with,  but fiction is my favorite type of writing.  When I was a teenager, I attempted to write short stories. Probably I still have some of them in my files. I don’t know why I like to write. But the desire and dream to write became a part of me when I wrote my first poem on that Big Chief tablet, at age nine.
I continued to write stories after I married. But when the children began to arrive, my writing dream and time for it disappeared beneath Birdseye diapers and was lost in rock-a-bye-baby tunes as I nurtured four babies. Not all at once, mind you, but spaced just far enough apart to keep me in mommy mode from the firstborn’s arrival until the last one left home. Those years were the best years of my life, but when the nest was empty, I clicked over to writing mode and began my adventure into the publishing world. Writing is not a hobby, it is my destiny. Although I have only a humble beginning of published works, the venture has been worthwhile.  As a mommy,  or as a writer, you gotta believe in your babies.  It’s just as the country song says, “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.”  So writers, “Don’t let your stories stay too long in your files. Find them a home on the shelf.”           –Freeda Baker Nichols

Books by Freeda Baker Nichols

Books by Freeda Baker Nichols

moon glows through the pines in cool of the autumn night-- harvest is over

moon glows through the pines
in cool of the autumn night–
harvest is over
© 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Which One Am I— a Blogger or a Writer?

Portrait of a Girl with long dark Hair

A log in a fireplace.

parts of a short story-in-progress . . .

Red coals glow among gray ashes in the fireplace. A log tumbles and sparks flame into an orange blaze. Suddenly the room is filled with a warm, tranquil atmosphere. I don’t feel warm or calm, right now.  But I realize why I came back to San Saba.  I came to end something . . . so that I can begin my life anew.  Without Whit.

From this day forward . . . without you, Whit Langley,  I promise–I’ll get by.

© Copyright, 2013 Freeda Baker Nichols

(from my short story or novelette)

(Images are from Wikipedia , through  Zemanta)

Excerpt from my story

English: Western Sandpipers in Bolsa Chica Eco...

Giving thanks to the open ocean, just off Waim...

English: Sea gulls in flight over the Dutch Wa...

The main character in my short story is Calypso, an artist from Texas, who has lived in California for nineteen years. The story is told from her viewpoint, and in present tense. The following lines are Calypso’s thoughts as she walks along a beach.

(The ocean fascinates me.  Growing up in Texas, I seldom ventured to the coast.  The first time I came to California, I fell in love with the blue, lapping waves. I love to smell the wet sand and to search for unusual shells.  Sea gulls and sandpipers are so much fun to watch.  Moving about on wiry legs, the sandpipers peck and probe into the sand with their short bills.  When they take flight, they sound a piping-like cry of ‘twee-wee-wee.’ The gulls glide majestically above the water.  Marine life is interesting, too. And snorkeling is still an adventure for me.  Critters of all kinds swim in close to the shore.)

© Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Calypso — middle part of short story.

A drawing of an envelope

English: Ocean waves

There’s no return address on this letter. I rip it open. A check! One thousand dollars written on a Virginia bank. From Whit! I look closely inside the envelope for an explanation, but there’s nothing. Not one single word.
A while later, Layton comes by and we sit at the table on the patio. I try to put my thoughts about the check aside for now.
I’m glad Layton is here. Does he know how happy I am to see him? I try not to show my feelings. We talk a few minutes about many things, but nothing in particular. Chit-chat.
“Calypso, tell me how you got your name.”
I laugh. “My dad once met Jacques-Yves Cousteau.”
“The ocean researcher?”
“Yes. Dad went aboard his famous ship.”
“I’ve heard of his ship. He called it Calypso, didn’t he?”
“That’s right. Dad was impressed with Cousteau and he really liked the name Calypso. When he suggested the name to Mother, surprisingly she agreed. I would have thought she would give me a dripping-sugar Southern name.”
“So you are named for a ship. Suppose that’s why you love the ocean?”
“Actually, I’m also named after Cousteau himself.”
“How’s that?”
“My middle name is Yvette, the feminine form of Yves.”
“Calypso Yvette. Pretty name.”
“Thanks. I’ve been told it fits an artist.”
“You are a very good artist.”
“So good that thieves steal instead of buy?” I try to make light of the horrible theft, but Layton is not smiling. “Whit liked to tease me about selling the seascape when our bank account got low but he knew I’d never part with it.”
“That was a beautiful painting. I’m sorry it was stolen.”
“If you’ve never had anything stolen, you can’t imagine how vulnerable it makes you feel.”
He nods. “Do you mind telling me how long you and Whit were married?”
“Nineteen years.”
“And you? How long were you married?”
“Thirteen years,” he says and looks away.
“Any children?”
He shakes his head.
“Whit and I never had children, either. If we had, I wouldn’t be alone now.”
“Do you think you’ll ever see Whit again?”
“I don’t know.”
“A few days ago, you mentioned getting a divorce. Do you plan to go through with it?”
“Yes.” I can’t even imagine how devastating that will be.
Suddenly Angelique’s red Mustang whips into my drive and comes to a quick stop. She gets out and strides over to the table. Layton–gentleman that he is–stands until she is seated.
The sun’s rays slant through the leaves of the pepper tree and brighten the table top. Angelique pushes her sunglasses to the top of her head. Her thick blonde hair cushions them. Layton shoots her an admiring glance. She is attractive. I recall telling her she should spend some time looking for Mr. Right. She always came back with, “He doesn’t exist. You’ve already got him.”
I clear my throat and shut my eyes tight. I don’t have him anymore. When I open my eyes, Layton smiles at me. I force a smile and turn to Angelique. “So how are things at the sheriff’s office?”
“Usual stuff. At least, we’ve not heard any more out of you. So that means things are okay?”
I nod, not trusting my voice to sound reassuring. Things have quieted down though. Rex Gentry unnerved me but I haven’t heard any more from him since he bought the painting. And I’ll be getting a report from the detective soon.
Angelique looks at Layton. “I have a habit of dropping in to check on my best friend. I hope I’m not interrupting your visit.”
“Oh, no. It’s nice to see you again.”
Angelique turns to me. “When did you say your Aunt Helen will be here?”
“Next week.”
“She’ll be good for you. Her sense of humor will definitely lift your spirits,” Angelique says.
I turn to Layton. “Helen is my favorite aunt. I want you to meet her.”
“I’d like to meet her.”
After a time, Angelique leaves. A short while later, Layton says, “Time for me to leave, too. Is our date at the beach still on tomorrow?”
“Yes. I’ll be there mid-morning with my canvas and paints.”
“I’ll bring our lunch and see you at noon.”
When I’m alone, I look at the check again. The familiar signature of Whit Langley brings to mind how much I loved him. Love him. Maybe he still loves me. He sent this check for some reason. Didn’t he?
Don’t count on it, Calypso.
But why did he send it? Why? After all this time. I’m getting by, selling a painting now and then. My savings account though is dwindling. I need to look for a job. Or maybe I should sell this house and move back to Texas. Back to the cabin.
The cabin and acreage would bring a good price. Maybe I should sell the cabin. I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back there to live.
I wouldn’t be happy far away from the ocean.
I wouldn’t be happy.
I wouldn’t.

© Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

(This is a middle portion of my short story-in-progress)