A writer inspired by nature and human nature

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

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Christmas Eve Ponderings (poem) by Bette A. Stevens + Christmas Music


Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and a New Year filled with God’s richest blessings… 💞 ~Bette A. Stevens

Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

Christmas Eve Ponderings

The last cookie baked, the final gift wrapped.

Christmas Eve is upon us…

It’s time to relax.

Christmas music is gently reminding us why

Lord Jesus, the Christ Child…

Came down from on high.

He came as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Lived among us on earth…

God’s gifts to bestow.

Loving God, loving others —Christ bought with his life

He epitomized love…

Not anger or strife.

God’s love is a precious gift we’re to share

Not with just those we know…

But with folks everywhere.

© Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David
a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
LUKE 2:11 (KJV) Bible


Christmas music in a 3 hours long playlist. Traditional Christmas songs & carols featuring piano, violin & orchestra – arranged and recorded by Peder B. Helland. Christmas songs in the mix:…

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Celebrating The Pine Tree State—Christmas Poem & Artwork by Local Mainers


In honor of the State of Maine’s Bicentennial (official birthday March 15, 2020), I’ll be posting articles about Maine history, events, people, and places that include poetry and photographs throughout 2020 and 2021. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a New Year 2021 filled with the Peace, Love, Joy and Hope found in God’s greatest gift—the Christ Child. ~ Bette A. Stevens 

Isaiah 9: 6

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Maine

NOTE CARD COVER: Artwork Created By 7-year-old Bentley Lang (2017)

Did you know?

  • The Pine Tree State‘s pristine lakes and ponds total 6,000 (Maine.gov).

Last December (2019) I received a phone call that made my day! A local resident had checked out my latest book—My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons, from our local library and called to tell me how much she enjoyed reading it. Now that’s a great way for an author to begin her day…but, the wonder didn’t end on that lovely note. In fact, it blossomed into an extended conversation with the caller, Irene White, a fellow nature lover and gardener. Irene lives on Great Moose Pond, just a few miles from our farmstead in Hartland, Maine.

“I loved your book so much that I wrote a poem, not a haiku, but a poem nevertheless. My Christmas poem was inspired by a sweet card created by a seven-year-old boy named Bentley Lane in 2017.  I enjoyed Bentley’s artwork so much that I purchased several cards from his mother’s craft table at the local Christmas fair in town.” ~Irene White

Silently we all say “thanks”

Poem by Irene White (2019)

It’s a frosty morning
and Christmas is in the air.
So put on your tall boots
and your warm wooly coat.
Hat and mittens too,
and grab the trusty saw.
Warm up the truck 
and head for the woods.
Up there be a stand,
it’s thick and green.
The tracks abound,
this way and that.
The rabbit hopped this way,
and the deer circled round.
But look over there,
the perfect tree.
Push forward, pull back,
again and again.
Until the final cut,
and she’s yours!
Now load it up
and head for home.
Shake off the snow
and bring her in.
All the kids shout, “Yeh”
and the dog gives a leap!
We get ready to string the lights,
and silently we all say, “Thanks.”

Discover how reading and writing poetry benefits everyone from kids to corporate executives at this link on Bette’s blog. Whether you’re a resident Mainer or from away, I invite you to come celebrate Maine. I would love to hear from you if you have a favorite tidbit (i.e. poem/photograph/very short story) to share with us about your love for the The Pine Tree State.

About Bette A. Stevens

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture. Stevens’s books include The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!; Amazing Matilda, Children’s Picture Book (Ages 4-11) 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award and Gittle List; Pure Trash (MG/YA/Adult) Short Story; Dog Bone Soup (MG/YA/Adult) Coming of age Novel (2017 KCT International Literary Award Top Finalist 2017); and My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry and Photography Collection) 2019.

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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Celebrate the Seasons through Poetry


Celebrating My Maine

Maine—The Way Life Should Be…

Find out more at  https://www.theodysseyonline.com/10-reasons-why-maine-the-way-life-should

Did you know?

Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, the state of New Hampshire to the west, the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine’s long rocky Atlantic Coast is known for its frigid waters and an ample fishery—most famed for the Maine lobster. Maine has 3,478 miles of coastline.

Nicknamed The Pine Tree State), Maine was initially a province of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In fact, it was decades after the American Revolution before Maine gained official statehood. The Eastern white pine tree helped fuel the region’s economy in an era when shipbuilding and lumbering reigned supreme. The economic value of those pines actually provided a spark for the American Revolution. Massachusetts didn’t want to lose any of those pine profits it gained after the war, while Mainers struggled for political and economic independence. Maine officially celebrated its Bicentennial on March 15, 2020. Due to the 2020 Pandemic, The Pine Tree State will continue to celebrate its bicentennial through 2021! 

“A nature-filled land that enlivens the senses and soothes the soul—to me, Maine is poetry.”
–Bette A. Stevens

The Power of Poetry

How Readers & Writers of All Ages Benefit from Poetry

  • Improves Verbal Skills & Memory
  • Enhances Cognitive Function
  • Develops Empathy & Insight
  • Encourages Creativity

Why Haiku…

Inspired by the beauty and bounty of my home state, I write poetry in many forms; but I chose haiku for My Maine to offer readers a collection of story poems and photo snapshots of the unique land I know and love.

I invite you to join me as I celebrate #Maine2020 by submitting one of your favorite photos taken in “The Pine Tree State” and writing a haiku too! I’ll be publishing submissions here on my blog throughout 2020. Simply email me at bettestevens@tds.net SUBJECT: “Maine Bicentennial Haiku.”

How to Write Haiku…

 

A Peek Inside the Collection

~Excerpts from Winter Tales~

Frozen polar winds
Wave the ice crystal scepter
Dawn’s magic appears

Silvery branches
Unveil the old, old folktale
A spellbound story

Pine cones and tassels
Mirrored in moonlight upon
White weighted branches

Chickadees dozing
Nestling, captive to pine boughs
Till dawn sets them free

Shovels and snow plows
Storm’s rook ravings unraveled
Till the next arrives

Soups, stews and chowders
Stories told round the table
Favored winter fare

Silently—Snowfalls
Reign over field and forest
Supremely sovereign

Winter white gemstones
Glistening across meadows
Perfect snowshoe day

About the Author

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight. Stevens lives in central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies (milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). Stevens has written articles for ECHOES, The Northern Maine Journal of Rural Culture. As of July 2019,  Stevens has self-published five books and has a second poetry collection on the drawing board. Find out more about the author and her books at https://www.amazon.com/author/betteastevens

“Happy reading and writing… May the bounty and beauty of each new season inspire you!” 

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

A Week of Halloween Haikus


SPOOK-tacular haiku from my author friend Priscilla Bettis! 🎃 Happy Halloween…🧡 ~Bette A. Stevens 4writersandreaders.com

Priscilla Bettis, Author

Spooky image of pumpkin at night

I wrote a Halloween haiku every day for a week in anticipation of the haunty holiday.

7

autumn dewy web
silken silver labyrinth
tiny fangs tarry

6

fall weather welcomes
delicate chills like icy
fingers on your neck

5

October howling
winds strum bare willow branches
werewolves howling too

4

ruby hourglass
nestles moonlit poisonous pearls
a hundred eggs stir

3

dead, curled leaves crackle
feet shuffle in night’s dark veil
the wroth witch cackles

2

fog smothers the ground
dropped leaves rot and mold, their stench
like an open grave

1

bat wings whispering
tombstones tumble, a haint weeps
bodies rise and lurch

Have a happy Halloween!

This post was possible due to Bette Stevens’ tips and Anthony Renfro’s encouragement. Thanks, you two.:-)
Author and poet Bette’s blog: here.
Author and poet Anthony’s blog: here.

Feature image is by Andreas Dress on Unsplash.

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Write a 🎃 Halloween Haiku & Get the Kids Writing Too!


Make writing a Family Affair!

Find out how to write a Haiku poem & get the kids writing too…

Black Cat HALLOWEEN Haiku BAS 2019

 

Midnight—our fabulous, furry feline—inspired me to write BLACK CAT, a Halloween haiku (Haiku: a Japanese-inspired three-line: 5-7-5 syllable poetry form) and to design a poster to go with the poem. Kids love illustrating their poems. They enjoy listening to poetry and to reading it aloud too. 

Reading and writing poetry is a fantastic way to improve creativity and critical thinking skills for people of all ages. Plus, it’s an outstanding way to foster foundational learning and literacy for children. It’s so much fun to read and write poetry together! The kids will love it and I know you will too. Whether at home or in the classroom writing and sharing poetry is a perfect way to celebrate any season—for any reason! 

What’s inspiring you this autumn?
Brainstorm your list and get writing.
Have fun—don’t forget to get the kids writing too!

Here are some Writer’s Tricks (literary devices found in every writer’s toolbox) I used to create BLACK CAT. These tools can set a mood— they make writing and reading memorable and fun.  Check them out and see if you can discover where I used them in my poem.

Read on to find out more about these literary devices.

BLACK CAT

Black cat waits, watches…
Stalking tricksters in their webs.
Spiders are her treats!

© Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Three 🎃Tricks from the Writer’s Toolbox (Literary devices) used in writing poetry and prose

  • Assonance
    Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words.
  • Consonance
    Another literary device used by writers and poets is consonance—repetitive sounds produced by consonants within a sentence or phrase. This repetition often takes place in quick succession.
  • Alliteration
    You put your alliteration tool to work when words that start with the same sound are used close together in a phrase or sentence. The sound is usually a consonant and the words don’t have to always be right next to one another.

How to find “just the right words”
Abundant writing resources are available in print as well as online. Listed below are the two resources I had readily available in the classroom for my students (Grades 4-8). Paperbacks are inexpensive enough to have multiple copies on hand, and in my opinion they are indispensable.

  • The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young
  • Webster’s Thesaurus for Students by Merriam-Webster

                        Happy Writing & Reading Poetry…

                                   🎃HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

                     ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

This post is shared in loving memory of our amazing kitty, Miss Midnight. ~Bette A. Stevens

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Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh—New Poetry Collection—#BookRelease #BlogTour


I’m delighted to host Balroop Singh—author, friend and poet—as she announces the release of her latest collection.  I started reading Magical Whispers last night… As I stroll through its pages, I’ll continue to reflect upon the beauty bound within each penning. Read more about the book and I think you’ll agree, this is a collection that you’ll want to add to your book shelf too! ~Bette A. Stevens https://www.4writersandreaders.com 

Book Blurb

I wait for whispers; they regale my muse. Whispers that can be heard by our heart, whispers that ride on the breeze to dispel darkness and ignite hope. I’m sure you would hear them through these poems if you read slowly.

‘Magical Whispers’ would transport you to an island of serenity; beseech you to tread softly on the velvety carpet of nature to feel the ethereal beauty around you. The jigsaw of life would melt and merge as you dive into the warmth of words.

In this book, my poems focus on whispers of Mother Nature, whispers that are subtle but speak louder than words and breathe a quiet message.

Each day reminds us
It’s the symphony of surroundings
That whisper life into us.

Book Information

Title: Magical Whispers

Author: Balroop Singh

Genre: Poetry

Available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KJQ6K5D


US
UK DE FR ES IT NL JP BR CA MX AU IN

Excerpt

The Last Whisper

I could never plan my life
It just flitted by
Before I could figure it out.

I had just a few desires
Though they kept multiplying
You fulfilled them with a smile.

I have just one more
The last one, I promise
I hope you would consider that.

I want a little cabin in the woods
A tree house with four windows
And a solarium with royal recliners.

Don’t forget to add your bar
One corner could be enough
For the best crystal we bought.

If we have a bridge that swings
I could spend the rest of my days
Reclining in that heavenly bliss.

© Balroop Singh

Meet the Author

Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educator always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

A self-published author, she is the poet of Sublime Shadows of Life and  Emerging From Shadows, both widely acclaimed poetry books. She has also written When Success Eludes, Emotional Truths Of Relationships Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Allow Yourself to be a Better Person.

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.

Find & Follow the author

Thanks so much for stopping by to meet Balroop Singh and enjoy a peek inside her new book—Magical Whispers. Balroop and I would love to hear from you. May all your days be filled with magic! ~ Bette A. Stevens

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Welcome to the #RRBC “ROCKIN’ 2020 AWAY” BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER Block Party! @BetteAStevens #Giveaways


 

Hi, and welcome to the Rave Reviews Book Club’s 2020 BOOK, BLOG & TRAILER BLOCK PARTY at Watch Nonnie Write! 

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today



Leave a comment & YOU COULD BE A WINNER!

  • One (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • One (1) e-book copy of 🌲 MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons 🌲by Bette A. Stevens

# of Winners for this stop:  2 



Even with a world-wide pandemic raging, the blessings of 2020 abound…

It’s a Girl!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today. As a Maine writer and poet, I hope you enjoy taking a peek inside the state I know and love.  It’s a Girl! is a haiku poem about one of the many miracles—the bounty and beauty—that 2020 has brought to us at the farmstead this year. If you haven’t been to the U.S. state of Maine yet, I invite you to add a trip to The Pine Tree State to your wish list. No matter the date or the season, Maine’s miracles are sure to capture your heart and soul. In the meantime, I invite you to watch MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons book trailer later in this post to get a taste of what we Mainers are blessed with 365 days a year.  Maine, you’ll  see, is the way life should be!

As the new year began, I was sure it was going to be a year to remember—and it has proven to be just that.

My perspective has changed on so many things. Hubby Dan and I have been self-isolating since March 12. We order groceries online once a month then put on protective masks and gloves as we head out to pick packages up curbside in a town eight miles north. We only go out in public when we must—for things like medical appointments, and banking. This month we’ll pick up our absentee ballots at the town hall and return them in person to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Here in Maine, our 37-acre farmstead has always been a haven. We grow and preserve a lot of our own food (vegetables and fruit), clean up fallen trees to use as supplemental heat in the wintertime, and spend a lot of time outdoors working, exploring and enjoying the beauty and bounty that the land has to offer.

 

Miracles abound… Discovering a fawn in the back field was just one of them.

Rolls (I’m making all my own breads and desserts these days) were baking in the oven when Dan burst through the back door and hollered, “Grab your camera and get out here!” He wouldn’t tell me what was up until we gingerly approached a stand of birches in the back field and he pointed down. There in the tall grass (which he had planned to mow that afternoon) lay a newborn fawn. She was beautiful. The moment I was back at the house, I discovered as much as I could about whitetail deer online. I read everything I could find and prepared to watch and wait for the little one to appear with her mom.

Did I say she? You bet!

I found out that the sex of a fawn can be discovered by the shape of the crown of its head. Round for girl, flat for boy. I expected her to be out and about with mama in early July and I walked the field and trails each day to discover as much as I could first hand. By early July, we discovered that she had a twin—they came out each day romping, stomping and entertaining us while mama cautiously watched them from a distance. It’s been a summer of laughter and fun with our two whitetails on the loose.  If it hadn’t been for self-isolating during the 2020 pandemic, I would have missed it all!

It’s been a great summer of discovery. Check out these  16 Things to Know about Whitetail Fawns https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/big-buck-zone/2013/05/fawn-facts/

 

CLICK Book Trailer  below TO TAKE A PEEK INSIDE...

 

Grab a copy of MY MAINE today! 

 

More of Bette’s Maine

Books by Bette A. Stevens, Maine authorThanks so much for stopping by to read about It’s a Girl and take a peek at MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons today! I would love to hear what you think. Your comment could make you one of today’s two Giveaway Winners!

~Bette A. Stevens

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Get away from it all without leaving home—MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons by Bette A. Stevens


MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection) by Bette A. Stevens. 150 haiku poems, 49 of the author’s original photographs + interesting facts and symbols from The Pine Tree State. 

My Maine…

Staycation in “Vacationland” (One of The Pine Tree State’s nicknames). No need to leave your comfy lounge chair. No matter the season, MY MAINE is a collection of poems and photographs to soothe the soul. Put up your feet, sit back and relax. Let MY MAINE take you away…

Did you know?

In the early 20th century, lumber, textiles and other industries began to leave the state, and the government doubled down on stimulating tourism. In the 1960s, the state adopted a new nickname on its license plates and highway signs: “Vacationland.”

Every year, thousands of visitors from all over the world flock to the Pine Tree State to enjoy scenic vistas, outdoor activities and the unhurried pace of life. But a visit to Maine is more than just lobsters and lighthouses. USA Today

MY MAINE

“A nature-filled land that enlivens the senses and soothes the soul—to me, Maine is poetry!”

~ Bette A. Stevens

 

Summer Songs

Excerpts from MY MAINE Haiku through the Seasons (Summer Songs) by Bette A. Stevens

Pristine forest lands
Rockbound footpaths appealing
Seek your solace here

Lady slippers chant
Madrigalian ballads
Timeless tales reborn

Moose shielding twin calves
Wades tranquil mountain waters
Head raised, ears twitching

Swallows consuming
Millions of swarming creatures
Ouch, ouch—they missed some

Loons at lakeshore wail
Campers bewitched by the sound
Sacred summer songs

Waves play taps on shore
Tall pines salute by moonlight
Waking stars stand guard

Lighthouses stand tall
Regaling stories of ghosts
From a bygone age

Books by Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Hubby and I are enjoying a great “Staycation” right here at the farmstead. Confined by the 2020 pandemic restrictions, we’re playing it close to home and enjoying the magic of Maine moment by moment. Wishing everyone a blessed and beautiful end of summer and hope you’ve enjoyed a bit of a virtual Maine summer respite with us. ~Bette A. Stevens

[Visit Bette’s Blog]

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The Splendor of Diversity—discover it in the garden (poem by Bette A. Stevens)


Much of my poetry is inspired by the gardens, fields and woods here at the farmstead in central Maine as well as by the natural beauty and by the people of The Pine Tree State.

A peek inside Bette’s first poetry & photography collection:  MY MAINE, Haiku through the Seasons available in paperback and eBook. 

The Pine Tree State

Maine pines and people
Survivors, resilient souls
Standing tall and proud

Pragmatic figures
Independence their calling
Rugged yet limber

Growing where they choose
While rising ever higher
Strong limbs branching out

Tempering spirits
Amidst the boundless medley
Solid, steady, proud

Diversity (A preview into one of Stevens’s poems to be included in her second—”Heaven and Nature Sing”—collection) was inspired by the early June blooms (photograph), a soothing balm after those long, cold Maine winters. One that never fails to enthrall us each spring. The natural world has much to teach us about life and living…

Diversity

by Bette A. Stevens

Splendor of countless pigments
In gardens they combine
Echoing grandiose harmony
Serenity you’ll find

And so it is with people
Of every thought and hue
Diversity’s resplendency
Reflecting me and you

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If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to share it on your social media sites. Thank you! 

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#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp – Jan Sikes with a #Mother’sDay post (+ a great giveaway)


I’m delighted to welcome Jan Sikes back to 4writersandreaders to share a #Mother’sDay piece she’s written for the  2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! 

 

DEPRESSION SOUP 

by Jan Sikes

 

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

 

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals.

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family were migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family.

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.”

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes.

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together.

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri, to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together, began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future.

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards.

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders.

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known.

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms, and still stands today.

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone.

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth.

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time.

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.”

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy.

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

  1. Count your blessings every day.
  2. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.
  3. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.
  4. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.
  5. Love life and live for God.
  6. Hard work never killed anyone. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.
  7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her.

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy.

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

Contact Jan Sikes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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