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.

DSC_0054 - 1

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

cropped-cropped-cropped-homeplace.jpg

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

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #15

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.

frog.jpg

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

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 14

BOOKS

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.

mimi's-house-party

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.

Call of the Cadron

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. 🙂

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL #13

WOODPECKER

DSC_0187 (2)

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

BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 12

DSC_0065Gene, Freeda, cave on Baker Place, ClintonI 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

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.

dsc_0107dsc_0098dsc_0125