Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Flower Power

There is just something about a daisy that makes me smile.  Simple, direct, unassuming, not flashy, but still sending me a message whenever I see them blooming along my road and in the field.  If the day is sunny, they shine even among the weeds and vines in the deepest grass.  In the dim light of evening their bright faces reflect the glory of the passing day.  After the rain, with drops of water  clinging to their petals, they lift their faces to the sky as if to say 'I'm still here.  Bring on the storm.  Bring on the wind. I will continue to bloom until my job is done.'
This has been a few bad weeks for all of us.  Things have happened that we would not wish on our worst enemy.  Untold sorrow, grief, hardship.  Decisions to made, endless waiting, and always,  the knowledge that some of us escaped...and some of us did not. 
I hike down the road and sing songs to myself .  The steady beat of boots on the dry rough road are calming.  When I look around and see the daisies blooming, I begin to relax.  Perhaps I am focusing too much on the here and now.  I need to take courage from these unassuming flowers...they don't shout at me, they don't demand my attention.  They wait quietly there in the fields and furrows beside the road....and bear mute testimony to the power of hope.  That there will be a brighter day tomorrow..that we will all emerge from this time with renewed strength.  And perhaps a better understanding of how the simple things in life are the most precious.
Those plain flowers have a message for us...flower is there at our fingertips.  We just have to reach out and take it.  And tomorrow will be a better day, for sure.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Come a flood....

We aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  It began to rain yesterday and the rivers came up and the creeks rose.  It came a flood.
A few years ago we had a flood that they called the 100 year flood.  And the very next year we had another....100 year flood.  So I guess, to make sure this doesn't happen again, this one will have the super-title of the 500 year flood.  Or so I hear.
The ground was already saturated with rains from a few days ago.  And when it started in yesterday the only place for it to go was out....over the fields, into the already swollen lakes and streams and ponds.  
The water played havoc with any surface it ran over.  We went down to check out the roads this morning.  Walking from bridge to low-water crossing, checking into our alternate route to town, we found huge chunks of asphalt tossed like frisbees along the roadside.  And deep gouges running across the gravel where the rushing water had lifted huge rocks and tossed them aside as if they were made of fluff.  Water is powerful and when it is running as fast as our streams and creeks did, it packs a wallop.
What will we do?  We, as in Andy and me, will stay put until our road is fixed enough to get the truck out.    What will we do as a community?  Why, what we always do.  Roll up our sleeves, get out the heavy equipment, and shovels and rakes, help our neighbors put their lives back together, cry with the ones who are crying, hug the ones who need a hug.   That's what we do in a case like this...when there comes a flood..even a 500-year one.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Keeping up with a boy

Constant motion.  Never still.  That is what being almost 3 is all about.
We have spent the last month in New York, visiting our grandson Gus and his parents.
Our days were full of fun and adventure.
Pick him up from his parent's apartment in mid-morning with lunch already packed.  Ready to roll.  A stop along the way at the donut shop to greet everyone who comes in the door.  This boy has never met a stranger.  "Hi" he says to everyone in line.  Most of them smile and say hi back.  Some even give him a high five.
Then on to the park.  What will we do today?  Throw rocks in the stream?  Kick the ball all over the soccer field?  Run until we fall down?  Maybe all of the above.
The Aqueduct Trail is always a point of interest.  Lots of flat space to run and lots of places to stop, pick up a stick and dig a hole.
Dig a hole?  Of course!  What else would you do with such an expanse of wet and oozy mud?  Doesn't matter how dirty you get.  Grandma has clean clothes in the backpack.
Lunch.  How he loves to eat.  Cheerios and raisins, a pb and j sandwich, some cheese, maybe a veggie or two.  Whatever there is he eats it up and takes a big drink of water to wash it all down.
Getting sleepy, so we drive him back to our apartment where his travel bed is located.  A snuggle or two, a story about Winnie the Poo and then lights out.
After a refreshing nap...for all of us....he is ready to go back home.  "Mama, Papa!" he yells as we open the downstairs door.  He greets them with a happy smile.
It's almost time for him to help make supper.  He loves to cook.  And thankfully his parents know just how to keep him busy in the kitchen.  What a joy to see him cutting up carrots to put in the salad and adding a pinch of this or that to make a tasty dish.  Perhaps he'll be a famous chef someday.  Who knows?
One thing this grandma does know.  When it is time to kiss him good-bye and tell him we'll see him tomorrow, his little face lights up with joy.  That is enough to keep us trying to keep up with this little boy.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bound boy

Andy's ancestors came from Ireland.  And before that they came from Scotland.  Slaves..captured in the dim mists of time from their Scottish home...enslaved by their Irish captors...servants, bound in service for life to masters who ruled them with an iron hand.  And then as the famine in Ireland grew and life was hard for everyone, the news came that there was a chance for the United States of America.  Freedom.  How sweet the sound.
Several great-grandfathers ago a ten-year old boy by the name of Elder signed to become a bound indentured servant who would work out the cost of his passage to America by working for a family...a different kind of servitude..with an iffy promise, but better than the life that he could see ahead.  He made the long journey across the Atlantic.  He worked and managed to save some money.  With his savings he bought his freedom...and made plans to pay the passage for another brother.  When he arrived the two brothers worked to bring over another brother.  And so it continued until ten Elder men came from Ireland to start a new life in America.  Sweet, sweet freedom.  Hard work.  But, still, it was what they felt they owed their family.  A chance.  A chance for a new life...
The young man at the bottom center of the photo is Andy's grandfather, Andrew John Elder.  He was the father of John Andrew Elder who was the father of  Andy.
The patriarch of the family in the picture is also named Andrew John Elder, the father of all the children in the picture.
A heritage to be proud of.  Hope makes everything possible.  Even from the fog-shrouded coasts of the gleaming green hills of Ireland, the call for a free life and a new way of living echoes.  Freedom...for every bound boy...and man and woman who cherishes life and lives in hope of a better day.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Drifting with the seasons...

Some days when the sun refuses to shine I close my eyes and drift with the season.  Strong winds, pelting rain, gentle breezes, soft sunshine.  All in all it has been an early spring to remember.  
I have come to the point in my life when I have to write notes on a calendar and remind myself what happened when.  A journal of sorts you might say.  When did we see the four wood ducks on the pond?  Was it March 6th?  Or a late as the 23rd?  When did I see the first peek of a violet in my western sloping field....on the 13th...or the 5th?  And when did we hear the turkey gobble...the 25th..or maybe later?  
Does it really matter?  No, it doesn't, but for me it helps make sense of the onward march of day to day and season to season.   Morel hunting, the first greens that can be picked, the tender flowers adorning fruit trees not yet bitten by a late frost and snow.
Life on my hill in Luna is a chance to detach from the world that hurries by and counts its days and hours by clicking and ticking of the phone and the clock.  Unplugged from my electronics I relish the surprise I find with sunrise, noon and quiet evening.  Stars mark my seasons, the moon's shape the months, the sun a constant reminder of time of day.  Why do I need a calendar or clock?
Close my eyes, hear the sounds of nature all around me.  Content to be here in solitude.  Just to drift with the season.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Winter...and then summer.

I feel like telling these tender blossoms on my red bud tree to be prepared.  Be prepared for something other than snow, sleet, prepared for blazing sun, roaring winds, summer-time temperatures.  Because we have had them all.
Just a little over a week ago we had snow.  And sleet.  Some people had ice.  Cold.  Did I mention the cold?  The wind blew and I pulled my jacket collar tighter around my neck as I ran for the garage and the relative warmth of the car.  
How can it be that right now I am sitting in my house with the AC on?  Last night we debated whether we needed to build a small fire in the wood stove to warm it up a little.  I was chilly.  Put an extra blanket on the bed.  This morning I slipped on my lighter winter coat, popped my sweatshirt in the back seat and took off to run errands in West Plains.  By 9 AM I was suffocating in my light winter shirt.  The sun was sending blazing rays of heat into the car.  I turned the AC on and kept it running all the way to Gainesville.  
I listen to the forecast every day, just because I need to know how many layers of clothing  to wear and what to put on to strip down to.  Crazy.  Just plain crazy. 
But one thing I have noticed.  Everyone is smiling.  It is a beautiful day for the first day of spring.  And we are happy to be out in it.  After could be snowing!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Old School

I went to see Benton Breeding in the nursing home on Monday of this week.  He had come there to recover from the effects of a fall and broken bone a week or so before.  I could see that he was tired as he sat in his wheelchair, but I just wanted to say hi..and glad to see you back home.  Little did I know that in a few short hours he would leave us to go and join his loving wife Genelle and his family and friends.
I will miss him.  In the spring of 1977 Andy and I came to Gainesville, bought property, and made plans to settle in town.  The first thing I needed was a teaching job.  We had been camping while we were searching for the perfect place here in Ozark County.  I asked the realtor, who was on the school board at that time, if there were any vacancies that I might apply for.  He sent me to the superintendent's office.  And I met Benton Breeding for the first time.  I was a little uneasy going to interview in camping clothes, but I shouldn't have been.  We had a little talk.  He asked me some questions.  We talked some more.  And in short order I was hired to teach half time at the Junior High and half time at the Elementary.  Talk about lucky!  I didn't know how lucky I was.
Benton, or Mr. Breeding, as I called him while he was my boss, and I always got along fine.  I could tell that he ran a tight ship.  My experience with school superintendents was varied...some were pretty much in for the ride and others ruled with an iron hand.  But Mr. Breeding was definitely old school..and just what I needed.
After he retired we still kept in touch.  We went to church together.  We visited at Vaught's during coffee time and Sunday breakfast.  I still remember how pleased I was when they named our then-new football field and facility after him when he retired.  I would drive past the sign each day when I went to work at the new elementary school, and with a smile,  recall my years teaching under him.
Once, when we were eating breakfast at Vaught's, I got the chance to thank him for hiring me on that May day so long ago.  I told him how wonderful my time had been teaching at Gainesville and that he was a big part of that.  He had paved the way for our school to be one of the best I had ever taught at...and I told him so.  He smiled.  He always smiled.  He thanked me for the kind words.  I hope  he knew just how sincere I was.
And then I remember my first Christmas teaching here in Gainesville.  I had just dismissed my junior high class and was getting ready to leave for the elementary school when word came from the office that Mr. Breeding needed to see me.  Something about a "Christmas bonus".  I was surprised.  I had never gotten a Christmas bonus before.  What could it be?  I knocked on his door and he told me to come in.  All smiles, he reached down beside his desk and pulled out a shiny apple and a huge orange.  "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Elder!", he said.   I replied, "and Merry Christmas to you Mr. Breeding."  
Old school.  Definitely old school.