BANNER MOUNTAIN GIRL # 30 “MAMA”

MAMA

Her name was Laura Sephrona. She was my mama. I am the sixth of her seven children. Four girls and three boys. Her grandchildren called her Granny.
She braided her black silken hair and wound it around and around her head. Her eyes were blue-bonnet gray. She was short and plumpish when I knew her. In a photo, on a yellowed postcard with crinkled corners, she was dressed in a white blouse, trimmed with tatted lace and a long, black cotton skirt with a small waistband. She wore high top lace-up leather shoes.
She fell in love with daddy the first time she looked into his blue eyes.
In spring, she tended to corn, okra, and other vegetables in the meadow garden. She stored fresh red, round tomatoes in a lard bucket and hung it on a prong of the cedar post that cornered the back porch. The tomatoes were juicy and good, she said, sprinkled with salt.
Her tanned, wrinkled fingers once picked soft gray-white feathers from ducks squawking in rhythm to each yank of snowy down. The feathers made their way into the pillows that we slept on at night.
Mama milked “Ole Jerse” and placed the fluffy foam on pink tongues of orphaned kittens.

Ole Jerse

Sometimes she doctored me and my siblings with castor oil and she said, “Swallow this. It tastes good with sugar on it.”
I said nothing to disagree with her opinion because the weathered oak bench we were sitting on was beneath Mama’s blooming peach tree.
Mama quilted the quilts for our beds with fingers tender from being stuck by the sharp needles.
She built a fire in the wood stove to cook our meals. She wore an apron made from flour sacks. She wrung the necks of chickens to prepare our Sunday dinners. Sometimes the preacher came for dinner and she always served fried chicken.
She taught her daughters how to become keepers of our homes. By following her example and with the grace of God, the four of us maintained stable homes.
She showed us the milky way and taught us nursery rhymes about starlight.

“Wish I may, wish I might
have the wish I wish tonight.”

She wrote in my diary that “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Beside that, she added the Golden Rule. “Always do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
She taught us the Bible in many ways. By example and by a game she played with us by  asking what our dreams were and then opening up the worn leather cover of our family Bible to find these words “and it came to pass.”

And my dreams did “Come to pass.”

I became a writer, a wife, mother, grandmother and now a great grandmother.

My mama was the very best!  I loved her with all my heart and I cherish her memory!

Two Kittens

Here’s one of my favorite stories, reblogged from my blog!

Freeda Baker Nichols

My kitten named Polly was silky black with white trim about her face. She looked like a tiny panther, which had been sprinkled with honey and then turned loose in a cotton patch. The white patches resembled bits of cotton stuck to the honey on the black, silky fur. Honey was an appropriate way to describe Polly because, as a child, I loved my kitten very much.

Another kitten, called Peter, was my sister’s pet. I suppose that sometime in the first readers, Yvonne and I must have read stories of Peter and Polly, a little boy and girl, because I know that as a child I was not creative enough to think of original names.

As an adult, I found that naming my children was a difficult task. When I gave birth to four babies, I was flabbergasted–not about the four babies–about how to choose suitable names. The babies…

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Spring – day 28 napowrimo

dogwoodwarm as the sun on robin’s breast
soft as a yarn in blackbird’s nest
cool as the breezes when they blow
pristine as gentle flakes of snow
and tasty as sunflower seeds
or nasty as tough bitterweeds–
polecat babies in black and white,
who stir a stink in dark of night
tornado winds that scalp the hills
and crack the eggs of whippoorwills–
a “fraidy hole”–a cellar deep
where even greenish frogs can creep
a rain surprise in hasty splash
that brings forth thunder with a flash
newborn kittens in loft of haykittens
song of sparrow at end of day–
dogwood blossoms in Arkansas,
a welcome time chock-full of awe.

Copyright 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Respect the Old One

The old cat returned
to the porch once more to sleep
as he used to when snows came
before kittens’ birth.
The young cats have grown and gone–
now there is room for Old One.

Twister, The Old One

The Old One

kittens in Sept 2012 005

Three Kittens

Cats 012

Young cats have grown and gone.

 
 
 
c Copyright, Freeda Baker Nichols
 
(The poem is a Sedoka, six lines, syllable counts of 5-7-7-5-7-7)

Two Kittens

Kitten

My kitten named Polly was silky black with white trim about her face. She looked like a tiny panther, which had been sprinkled with honey and then turned loose in a cotton patch. The white patches resembled bits of cotton stuck to the honey on the black, silky fur. Honey was an appropriate way to describe Polly because, as a child, I loved my kitten very much.

Another kitten, called Peter, was my sister’s pet. I suppose that sometime in the first readers, Yvonne and I must have read stories of Peter and Polly, a little boy and girl, because I know that as a child I was not creative enough to think of original names.

As an adult, I found that naming my children was a difficult task. When I gave birth to four babies, I was flabbergasted–not about the four babies–about how to choose suitable names. The babies did not come to me during one delivery time; they were delivered at four different times, spaced quite appropriately, I thought. They were spaced from two years and eight months to five years between them, so that the range of time I had children in the house was a total of thirty years. That makes me sound very old, but I don’t feel old. I must be getting old though because now I’m remembering my childhood and Polly.

Polly was a kitten which I loved with all the love and warmth that a little girl can give to a family pet. My sister and I treated Peter and Polly like real children, feeding them milk, trying to put them on a schedule, making them take a nap. Polly often would nap, but Peter never did. And he was spanked many times for misbehaviour. But spanking Peter made him worse instead of better.

My sister and I tried to feed the kittens three meals a day from one glass of milk. Our “day” might be only half an hour, and often Polly would take her nap and eat again when the milk was offered to her in a short while, which we called lunch time. But Peter thought he should drink the whole glass of milk in one great gulp for breakfast.

I can’t recall what happened to the kittens. I do not think, though, that it’s because I’m older or that my memory has faded. I think the kittens just went away, the way children see things like that go away.

My sister and I are stronger because we held close to our hearts, literally, two little kittens who might have been just as happy without us,
but without them, we would not have grown to love and create as deeply as we do. My sister is now an artist and this story makes me a writer–I think.

c Copyright, 2012, Freeda Baker Nichols