Banner Mountain Girl#39–from my files–an instance of regret

I noticed him as he sat on the motorized shopping cart and guided a half-filled grocery cart firmly with his left hand. He turned into the aisle by the dairy products. He picked up a gallon of 1% Milk. His cart already contained a case of Gatorade and a carton of Mountain Dew underneath the boxes of oatmeal, Oreo cookies, and a bag of Fuji apples. He also had bananas, grapes, a honeydew melon and tomatoes. There were frozen Stouffer’s TV dinners and several boxes of pot pies. He stopped briefly at the cigarette counter, then went on without choosing any. He reached for a bottle of Aleve and a can of shaving cream. He passed by the meat bin, without stopping. He raised his eyes to look at me as he maneuvered past my overflowing cart. His eyes were pale gray, so washed out–hardly any sparkle to them. His hair was neatly trimmed and short, showing beneath the cap he wore.  Even now, he was a handsome man.

He was a veteran.

I know because he was shopping in a military commissary, the day after Memorial Day.

I wish I had at least said hello to him. I wish I had thanked him for serving our country. © Freeda Baker Nichols

Flag of the U.S.A.

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ralphwaldoemerson1

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 # 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

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#7

Banner Mountain Girl—Post # 7
September 12, 1980: “I remember shyly waiting to see Mrs. Vacin, my high school English teacher to show her my poems. She was never available and so I forgot about trying to talk to her. I mentioned to one of my classmates that I liked to write, after I found out he had written articles. He had moved to my school from the city, and I was interested in his ability to write, so I spoke to him about it. He said he thought I looked like a movie star and he named her. He moved away and I never heard from him again.”
But he was the first person with whom I shared my passion for writing. My desire to write was becoming real, like the Velveteen Rabbit. I was happy.
However: “The writer within me seems to be like a bird that flits in and out, appearing now and again in my life. Comes and goes. Comes and goes. I have worked more steadily and persistently with my writing the past five years than I ever worked in my life. I thought it would be easy, that ideas would flow and that I would soon find success. Not only is it hard to get the words written, there are numerous hours of revision, packaging and mailing and waiting for the reply. Then being discouraged when my manuscript is returned and getting over that so I can try again. Is it worth it? No. But I must continue! The drive within me was placed there as a natural part of me. I have to go forward to meet its demands.”
“The day is a peaceful, autumn day with breezes strong. Leaves and acorns falling from the oak trees, the sun appearing and disappearing, playing hide and seek with the breeze. The autumn is my favorite time of year. I wish it would last about six months and that I could work with my writing every day.”
#becoming a writer . . .

© 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