BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL — Part One

I was born at Banner Mountain in a house that had a breezeway. Or as they were sometimes called, a dog trot. The house belonged to my grandmother, Martha Elizabeth Harper.  After my grandfather, Will Harper, died, my parents and my siblings moved into the house with my grandmother. She and my aunt, Dixie, lived in one section of the house while my parents and my siblings lived in the other part.

I was born in September when the hills were decked out in many shades of color. Today, I wonder if that’s why the fall of the year is my favorite season.

Daddy built a new house nearby my grandmother’s place and we moved into it about the time I was one-year-old.

Our new house had five rooms and two porches, one porch at the front, and a small porch at the back by the kitchen. Eventually, Daddy built a barn, a chicken house, a smoke house and a storm cellar.  And later on, he built a car port. A crew with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the outhouse, which was quite fancy. There was no electricity to our house until I was fifteen years old.  But still we didn’t have running water, so two wells supplied water for us. Daddy had dug one well by hand and the other well was a drilled well. No running water meant the Saturday bath was taken in a galvanized washtub. Of course, there were sponge baths on a daily basis, I’m assuming. But, in the winter, one’s heels could become rough and rusty-looking.  I’m not saying mine were. I am saying my feet were tough. I survived the stick of thorns and stobs as I went barefoot every summer.

I loved walking barefoot along the road in the soft, dry dust.

Roads on the Mountain are graveled now, and I suppose kids nowadays wear tennis shoes or boots to protect tender feet. Not sure of that. Just supposing.

© copyright 2016, Freeda Baker Nichols

Painting of our homeplace by Yvonne Baker Hall

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A Summer Night

Whip–poor–will!  Whip–poor–will! A voice declares. It reaches across time and my remembering stops with the sound as it peacefully echoes back from a silent night of long ago. The summers of my childhood come alive with color as a cup of fiery memories overflows.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

After supper, our family sat on the front porch of our home on Banner Mountain in the Ozark Foothills until time to go to bed.

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Dusk appeared just as the whippoorwills began to sing.  Fireflies flitted about the yard and some of them had the misfortune of getting stuck inside a jar, held by small, sweaty hands.  Jarflies were so noisy that adult voices had to stop sometimes, but the children’s laughter continued and mingled with the noise of the approaching nighttime.

Daddy never said how tired he was or how hard he had worked or how aggravated he had been.  It seemed as though he loved everybody he had ever met, and felt no ill will toward anyone.

And Mama was always unruffled, unhurried, and able to relax as she went about her household duties. The apron she wore has no replicas.

The modern day housewife seldom wears an apron. But her children need to feel the security that I felt on those summer evenings when my family gathered to wait for bedtime –when the dogs lay lazily in a corner of the yard, and chickens were on the roost, the door to the henhouse closed and locked.  Once again the chickens had escaped the whistling hawk that sailed the clear skies overhead. Tomorrow would be another day.  Whip–poor–will!

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© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols, all rights reserved.

 

 

Untangled Thread

Mama’s stitches were shorter and
more uniform than those made by
other ladies at the quilting parties.
When the patterned pieces of feed
sack wore thin, Mama’s stitches
held strong as the knots that kept
them in place.

A tablecloth, with faded black letters
across a corner brightened our
kitchen with appliqued red apples that
looked good enough to eat. There was
warmth in the kitchen that came from
somewhere other than the wood-burning
stove.

I cannot untangle my life, the way Mama
untangled twine, but she instilled in me
the determination to try. I sleep under a
machine-made comforter, but the thought
of Mama caring for her family warms me.

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                                                 Mama

© Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols

 

The Baker Sonnet

I have created a new sonnet form, the Baker Sonnet,  and I’m introducing it in the Poetry Day Contests 2016 with Poets’ Roundtable of Arkansas. The Baker Nichols Award contest for this year is open to PRA members only. Some awards are open to Arkansas residents and some are open to all poets.  Information on the contests may be seen here. Entries are not to be sent before June 1, 2016 and must be postmarked by August 15, 2016.

The Baker Sonnet form is fourteen lines of iambic pentameter and concludes with a couplet which may or may not be indented. The rhyme scheme is a-B-b-c-a-a-b-c-d-c-d-B-e-e. Note the repetition of lines two and twelve.

No Longer Mine

The rain falls damp onto the grass tonight.
My heart is sad because your love is gone.
The barren ground is cold where sun once shone.
The moon and stars no longer gleam above.
Somehow they hide their shine of silver light.
The darkest sky becomes my dreadful plight
as I begin to spend my time alone.
How can I go through life without your love?
Another holds you spellbound by her charms
as I give up the goals that I dreamed of.
I wait with aching heart and empty arms.
My heart is sad because your love is gone.
Once, I believed your promises were true.
My heart now breaks each time I think of you.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

Note: My poem example here is a work-in-progress. How does a poet know when a poem is ready for the printed page?

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There’s No Place Like Home

 

When I’m away even for a day trip, it’s always great to return. Often on my way up the drive, I  say, “Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home!”

cropped-cropped-cropped-homeplace1.jpgWhat is it about “home” that makes it a place so dear to the heart?

Banner Mountain

The road back home is sometimes too long and difficult to travel.

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Home is someone drawing water from the well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home is a place to be at Christmas. It’s a visit from the grandkids.

It’s a nostalgic place, a place for memories. A place for love.

Collage for blog 1

Gene, Freeda, cave on Baker Place, Clinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how far away your travels take you, there is no place as wonderful as home.
Home is being together, being happy, being free.
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Home is the ending of the day, being thankful. Being grateful to God for all His many blessings.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/theres-no-place-like-home/

Eggs for Bubble Gum

chicken eggs

I traded eggs still warm for bubble gum
and always gave my baby sister some.
We blew big bubbles, like balloons of pink,
until they burst and stuck upon our cheeks.
We both blew bubbles quickly as a blink.
I liked the gum I got from Peddler Weeks
and always gave my baby sister some.
I traded eggs still warm for bubble gum.

© Copyright 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols

Poem in the Lil-Ann pattern. Reblogged from my earlier post, with added photos.

Yvonne & Freeda Baker

Yvonne & Freeda Baker by the lilac bush at the Banner Homeplace

Freeda Baker Nichols & Yvonne Baker Hall

Freeda Baker Nichols & Yvonne Baker Hall — waiting for Yvonne’s flight back out west.

The Homeplace

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Owl photo, copyright 2013 by Dianne

Owl photo, copyright 2013 by Dianne

Clementine

Clementine

The Home Place

Clear water drifts through swimmin’ holes,
across flat rocks and over roots,
around un-cut cane, fishing poles
where, at night, a barn owl hoots.

Pale moons still shine
above the meadow wonderland
where our heifer, Clementine, gave birth
to a calf too weak to stand.

By kerosene lantern’s yellow light,
my sis and I encouraged the calf to eat.
We braved the fear of dark midnight
to help him stand on his wobbly feet.

Moss grows now where choppin’ blocks stood,
under the shade of a black jack tree
where Daddy split the kindlin’ wood
and handed the pine-scented chips to me

to carry to the apple crate
behind the stove in our front room.
The paling fence, its fallin’-down gate
are memories . . . Plum trees still bloom,

perfumin’ bud-fresh mountain air
around our house of weathered boards.
In the garden Mama gathered with care
speckled bird egg beans and dipper gourds.

I would do again the things I’ve done—
feed white leghorns from a brown toe sack,
walk barefoot in the April sun
but there’s no way I can go back.

I’ll cling to memories like the skin on a peach
and trust that time will not erase
the sound of the baby barn owl’s screech
near the swimmin’ hole at my old home place.

© Freeda Baker Nichols

© 2015 photos, Baker Nichols

Home

Pear Tree and Hanging Pots from MexicoDay 1 – Home      (Photo 101)

Home is a place where love abounds. A peaceful place where flowers bloom. Where a porch swing sways gently. Where a mountain breeze cools the summers and a blazing fireplace warms the winters. Where Mexico pottery hangs from a rafter and a pear tree blossoms in spring.

© 2015 Freeda Baker Nichols