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- Thankful for Life
- Glass Door Relationships
- Incredible Edible Art
- Bluebird House with Chandelier
- Byodo-In Temple — Sacred Space
- Darkness on Summer’s Edge
- Sitting on Cat Chairs
- Looking Down on Heaven
- Literary Thief
- Wordless Language
- Thinking about Being
- The Hawk Stands with No Fear
- Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal
- Behold the Black Swan
- Voice of Thought Writing
- Love Lives Beyond Death
- Endless Sea of Imagination
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Searching for acorns,
a squirrel suddenly saw
the man of her dreams sitting
behind a glass door.
She stopped what she was doing
and ran with great excitement
to take a closer look.
She tenderly touched
his soft dark brown and beige fur
within her squirrely thoughts,
for her little arms
could not reach beyond
that miserable glass door!
For the longest time—
she gazed into his eyes
blue as ocean water,
while her heart melted into
He was the biggest squirrel
that she had ever seen!
His size was so impressive,
she did not notice
the jealous girlfriend sitting
tensely by his side,
waiting for the perfect chance
to pounce on the intruder
outside the glass door.
Sometimes it is better when
dreams remain dreams,
and glass door relationships
stay beyond a wanting grasp.
Because, it’s clear to see,
the squirrel of her dreams
was in fact—a cat.
And what a foolish nightmare
that would have been! ~ms
In the summer of 2011, when I first ordered sushi and sashimi at the Umi restaurant, I couldn’t believe my eyes—incredible edible art! I knew I was still home in Virginia, but I felt like I had suddenly returned to the Hawaiian Islands. Was I dreaming? All of the food was created with such care and presented so beautifully, I just wanted to sit there and look at it. How could I justify eating fine art?
Even though I had never taken photos of food before, I decided to solve my culinary dilemma by pulling out my camera before my husband Tom or I took a bite.
It’s been 2 years since our first visit to Umi, and we have come back almost every week since then. Each time, the food and the service has been consistently great, so I continue to say, “Wait a minute—don’t touch anything! Let me get my camera.”
Regardless of how hungry we are, it has now become mandatory to take a photo first (Luckily, Tom is a very patient man). The food is simply too beautiful. On my December birthday last year, even though it was cold outside, I was served the freshest flowers made of fish. It was wonderful.
On another occasion, I had the chance to taste an avocado octopus. Actually, that’s not what it was literally—that’s just what I decided to name it. The octopus was reaching out towards me with its seven legs (must have lost one in a sea battle), begging to be eaten.
I was especially fascinated by the next dish below, because it reminds me of the movie “Life of Pi.” In the back, on the right, I see 3 little boats heading towards an island topped with parsley trees. On the left, I see three animals—the octopus in the back, the tiger in the middle, and the hyena in the front. Where is Pi? My guess is that he is probably hiding under one of the jalapeño peppers. After I told this story to Tom, he said— “That’s nice. Now can we eat it? ” (Doesn’t he know? Good things come to those who wait!)
Everyone who works at Umi seems to enjoy being there. This makes the entire dining experience even more enjoyable. I think people come for both the great food and for the great company. It’s always nice to be greeted with a warm smile.
Sony Gao (co-owner) moved from China to Japan when he was only 14 years old.
At that point, he began to learn how to make sushi and sashimi by working side-by-side with an experienced master sushi chef in Tokyo. It is quite obvious that Sony was an excellent student. His attention to even the smallest artistic detail is quite amazing.
Notice how he even turned the Aji Mackerel tail and a cherry stem in the same direction.
The food at Umi is figuratively, and sometimes literally, on fire. Together, even in these difficult economic times, Jonathan Chen (co-owner) and Sony have managed to make Umi Japanese Fine Dining one of the most popular and successful restaurants in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In fact, it is so popular that they recently purchased a second location in North Stafford.
Jasper Lin, Sony’s protegé, is also an extremely talented sushi chef. Always full of energy and spirit, people love talking to Jasper and watching him make interesting new dishes (he usually explains what he is doing to the people sitting at the sushi bar). Below are just a few examples of his artistic creations:
Paul, the newest sushi chef, does a great job helping the others keep up with the ever-growing demand for more sushi!
The wonderful ladies of Umi—Grace, Rachel, Melody, and Lynn—keep the restaurant running smoothly, and always take the time to assure that everyone feels welcomed and at home.
I have taken so many photos in the past 2 years, I could probably put together an entire picture book about Umi. Every time I walk inside, I find an incredible island of fresh fish and healthy food. If you ever pass through this area, make sure to stop by and check it out (evenings, on the weekends, make a reservation. It gets extremely busy). I’ll tell the shrimp to keep an eye out for you!
***If you live too far away to visit, just look at the photos and imagine the taste—that works too! ~ms
Each spring, bluebirds move into the narrow newspaper holder beneath our mailbox.
Even though we don’t get the newspaper, it isn’t the safest place for them to live.
Without looking, people drive by and shove advertisements over their nest and cover it up. So every day, out of concern, we check to make sure the birds can still get in and out.
This spring, I decided to buy a real bluebird house and hang it on a nearby tree. I thought they would prefer to move into something a little safer, made just for them. But no! Once again, the bluebirds chose to build their nest inside the newspaper holder—complete with a designer paper wasp chandelier.
Oh well. At least the standard bird house that I bought didn’t go to waste. A huge spider eventually came wandering by and decided it was the perfect place to live. Not exactly what I had envisioned, but I’m glad that the spider appreciates the shelter. Now tilted and decorated with webs filled with fallen autumn leaves, the spider’s house looks eerily haunted. Happy Halloween!
The Byodo-in temple on the island of Oahu is a beautiful replica of the original Byodo-in built in 998 AD, in the city of Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. A reflection of paradise on earth, the temple rests peacefully beneath the strength of the Hawaiian Ko’olau mountain range.
Within the temple
sitting quietly above
the chaos of the world,
a statue of Buddha
the glory of his image,
that we are more than
this or that thing.
Things come and go,
but thought lives on. ~ms
Sitting on cat chairs
’cause they all belong to me.
You could have claimed one
but it’s too late now, you see.
After warming this blueness,
don’t ask me to go.
With my own claws and cat hair,
I shaped it just so! ~ms
In truth, Siri (who I fondly call “Seaweed”) is the sweetest and most trusting cat that we have ever had. We adopted her from the Siamese Cat Rescue Center a year and a half ago. She was found taped up in a box with several other kittens, with only 5 small holes punched in the top for air. She could have died in there. If a human had been that cruel to me, I would never have trusted another person again. But Siri has totally forgiven the world for any unkindness that she endured. It is the middle of the night and she is lying right here—watching out for me.
Looking down on heaven
fading beneath me
underneath soft white clouds
my spirit remains.
Many years ago, when I first stepped out into the Honolulu airport and the warm trade winds touched my face, I felt like I had come home (even though I had never been to the Hawaiian islands before). There is something spiritual in the air that I cannot explain, and it wrapped itself around me in a warm embrace. Nowhere else in the world has ever made me feel this way.
I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, for a total of 11 years. It was my hope that one day I could come back to stay, but the best I have been able to do is return for a visit from time to time. Due to the prices of the houses, it looks like it will be impossible to retire there.
So, I gaze through a window
as I fly away once more
riding on trade winds,
looking down on heaven
fading beneath me
underneath soft white clouds.
My spirit remains
still with a hopeful prayer
that I will return
one day to stay forever. ~ms
Someone took 5 of my posts last night, with all of the photos–and put them on something called “Scoop it.” These same posts were also reblogged on this person’s WordPress site improperly. Photos were moved around or deleted, and my initials were even removed from the end of my poem “Flowers Blooming Bright” (which was cut and pasted together without the photos between the verses).
Instead of removing my content off of her site when I voiced my concern—she sent me the following rude message (complete with the intermittent all Caps):
“WHEN you publish to a PUBLIC DOMAIN it means that ANYONE can re-publish your artistry. Many are encouraged to do so. You do not have a DO NOT PUBLISH notice anywhere.”
So I have switched my blog from public to private—and have begun to add a clear copyright notice to every post, because apparently it is necessary.
All of the words and the photos on my website are my own.
I have never taken anything from anyone else. I honor and respect the work of other people. But it seems that there are people who open websites for no other reason than to take other people’s work. I do not appreciate having my work rearranged or modified–even if there is a tiny note at the end saying it was taken from “Stories with No Books.” As a result, my website will be private until I can figure out what I need to do.
Before I go—I would like to thank all of the good, honest people out there on WordPress for the follows and likes on my blog. Thank you.
Beneath the setting sun
by the water’s edge,
trees are telling stories
in the fading light.
Creaking and cracking
bending in the wind,
talking to each other
in windswept sighs—
their wordless language
still unknown to man. ~ms
While I was thinking about being
and wondering why I’m here,
time appeared before my eyes
and melted into years.
Yesterday, I was so young
and now somehow I’m old?
I used to do a lot
but now….I don’t do much at all.
Like this hapless elephant,
seems I’ve walked into a wall!
Every day I am so tired
where did my energy go?
When I started slowing down,
I honestly don’t know.
I have to pick myself up
and find something to do.
Perhaps I’d feel much better
with a new upbeat hairdo.
Then again— maybe not! ~ms
*** These photos were taken while I was visiting the Honolulu Zoo***
I looked out of my kitchen window this morning and saw a hawk standing on my porch railing, staring intently at something in the grass. What a wonderful surprise! I was afraid that I would scare it away if I dared to step outside, so I decided to take a photo through the back door window.
The hawk had its back turned towards me, so I thought it did not notice that I was standing there. But even though I had approached as quietly as I could, my presence was already known. As I was about to take another photo, the hawk turned its head all the way around (without moving its body) and looked straight through my eyes and into my soul.
The hawk’s eyes were intense, but somehow beautifully soft and gentle. We stood there looking at each other for a few minutes, neither one of us moving. Not a sound was made, but again and again, I heard the same thought traveling through the air.
No fear !
Assess the situation,
know who you are and
do what you are meant to do.
After a while, it looked down and away from me, as if trying to remember something…..
I guess nothing else came to mind, because a few seconds later, it looked up towards the sky and opened its mouth wide as if it was yawning. The hawk then turned its head to the left and gazed off into the distance, giving me the time and opportunity to take a profile shot.
Shortly after I took this last photo, without warning, it spread its wings and flew away, up into the nearby oak trees. When I opened the back door and walked out onto the porch, I could hear the hawk’s voice calling from above.
A long time ago, the Hawaiians named this species of seal “llio holo I ka uaua” (dog that runs in rough water). Now the Hawaiian monk seal has become one of the most endangered species in the world, with only about 1,100 remaining.
When this particular seal came in to sleep on a sandy beach in Kauai—the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team was immediately alerted. A volunteer arrived quickly and placed a rope barrier around the area to assure that the seal would not be disturbed while resting. Viewing of the seal was allowed from a safe distance, and close-up photos were easily taken with a zoom lens.
The volunteer kindly stayed to watch over the sleeping seal. She talked to people who were passing by, and told them about the history and current status of the Hawaiian monk seal. She made it very clear that the continued survival of the seal is largely dependent upon human compassion and understanding.
Many people who have not seen a sleeping monk seal before, think that the seal is stranded on the beach and needs help. This is not the case. It should be left alone. Coming too close to a seal while it is trying to rest, could cause it to go back into the water prematurely. And, without adequate sleep, a tired seal might not have enough strength to deal with life in the rough ocean waters.
The volunteers who watch over the sleeping seals are definitely angels. They freely give their time to assure that these endangered creatures are protected and not forever lost. Hopefully, through their efforts and the efforts of other concerned individuals and groups, the number of Hawaiian monk seals will soon begin to increase.
Behold the black swan floating
between images of carps and clouds
in cool pond waters reflecting.
With regal beauty and form,
the humble bow of the black swan
took my breath away. ~ms
***I took these photos on the island of Oahu—at the Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe. If you are planning a trip to Hawaii, this is a beautiful place to visit.
Born with minds wide open, children’s eyes see
an extraordinary world
filled with limitless possibilities.
But eventually, they will be taught
there are no dragons or witches that fly,
the sun is not nailed or glued to the sky.
You can’t lie on your back and walk on clouds,
the distance between says that’s not allowed.
Science and physics determine these rules
and if you ignore them, it’s harder at school.
So learn to think “normal” like all the rest,
or you might not pass the standardized tests! ~ms
In 1993, I enrolled in a college English class (it was a ‘core’ requirement). For the first few weeks, the professor discussed the proper way to write a good story. She said that, before writing, an author has to outline a plot, create backgrounds and personality traits for various characters, and figure out some sort of conflict between them that needs to be resolved. Her long list of writing rules and constraints were overwhelming me. I sighed as I watched my creativity cringe, shrivel up, and vanish. There is no way I can write this way!
It got worse. The next time I went to class, the professor said, “Please take out a piece of blank paper. Your first test is going to be an ‘In-Class Essay.’ You will have the length of this class (50 minutes) to write a 3 to 5 page paper about your writing process. This will count as 20 percent of your grade.”
Oh No! I had not developed a writing process that even vaguely resembled what she had been teaching. Doomed! What was I going to write? I looked at the clock. Five minutes had already passed and my paper was still blank. I had no time left to waste. I was going to have to write about how I write (and not about how she wanted me to write). I had no choice.
Now, even though it has been 20 years since then, I did keep a copy of that graded paper as proof that miracles can happen. Because of this rather strange and hastily written essay, the English professor gave me permission to forget everything she was teaching and continue writing outside of the box. Here is what I wrote:
February 18, 1993
My writing process is a strangely disorganized organization. When thoughts wander into my mind demanding attention, I listen. At the request of the voice, I write.
Because I am easily distracted, I find writing late at night more productive. No phone calls, no door bells ringing, no people talking—only the moonlight running its cool fingers through the trees, stimulating the darkness. It is then that I can hear, most clearly, the Voice of the One Who Lives in the Air.
I met the Voice years ago, in a dream. Although it never mentioned grammatical rules and regulations, it taught me the essence of writing. It said, “Remember you are not the creator. You cannot make what already is. Without resistance, simply and clearly, let it become for others to know.”
These words are the foundation of my writing process. Words contain only traces of the elements that they represent. They are symbols. Life itself is the true writer. With this in mind, I begin writing—carefully looking between the words, behind the words, and beyond the symbols.
I write in short spurts, because (admittedly) I have a rather short attention span. Easily tired, I often find myself wandering into my own thoughts, looking for a convenient place to rest. Sometimes, I can find nowhere to pause, nowhere to stop the process. It is then that I stumble downstairs for a glass of tea. Writing is time-consuming and intense, and some nights I have no patience for it.
I produce my first draft by think-writing. The thoughts think themselves and I write them down so I can see what they are trying to say. The unruly thoughts can go on for many pages before they decide on a central idea. I try to stay out of their way at this point, because I am at their mercy and they are usually out of control. If I try to force the thoughts and intimidate them with narrow lines and spaces, they vanish like smoke.
When the words stop flowing, the next part of the process begins. Finally, it’s my time to create. I study the words from every direction and decide which position is most appropriate for each one. They complain as I drag them from here to there—they know that I really don’t know what I am doing!
Suddenly, out of chaos, a certain order begins to appear. One word enlightens another, and sentences begin to form willingly. Energy between words builds a certain excitement in the writing, and new thoughts begin to gossip between the lines. Once again, I observe the thoughts, waiting for them to finish their conversations. They present me with new ideas, and I reposition them accordingly.
My writing process never ends. It is a searching, a searching for truth. It communicates new dimensions, new perspectives—opening doors that I never knew existed. I am not very concerned with form, because I am focused on content. Re-writing is simply a clarification process, an attempt to uncover the mysteries that dance in the air. Writing is an Un-doing, a re-evaluation of preconceived notions, the secret passageway between the seen and unseen.
Our 5 years and 6 months together
were so wonderful.
I thought my time with you
would go on forever……
But I was wrong.
Suddenly, without warning
a horrible thing called—
came and took your breath away.
If it were possible,
I would have given my life
to save yours,
but there was no way
to ease your suffering.
On the day that you died,
my heart broke in two.
I felt as if somehow
I had failed to protect you.
Once you were gone,
I was alone for the first time.
I was not prepared
to lose my best friend.
Somehow, I walked through sorrow
and found the will to go on.
Now, I’ve grown since you’ve been gone.
You would be proud to see
that I’m handsome and strong.
But there still remains
a sadness in my blue eyes,
dreaming of what once was mine.
I want you to know
even as the years go by
I will always remember you! ~ms
Our cat Anika died suddenly in the summer of 2011, of a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It struck suddenly and without warning. She was only 5 years and 6 months old. Watching our male cat, Keona, trying to understand what was happening—broke my heart. He loved her more than anything in this world.
She was in so much pain, we had to take her into the vet to put her out of her misery. Even the vet was crying, it was so hard to watch the intensity of her pain. When we came back home without her, Keona just looked at us. He didn’t make a sound. He just went and laid down on the couch. I could see the hurt in his eyes. He knew. There was nothing any of us could do to bring her back.
On a positive note, because I had entered them in an online cat contest in 2006, I have a lot of great photos of the two of them together when they were young. I am glad that I did not wait, thinking that there was always tomorrow. Now those photos are priceless memories.
The Mysterious Seal Rider
Adjacent to Waikiki beach on Kalakaua Avenue, there is a cute statue of a surfer and a monk seal that is “based on a children’s story by Fred Van Dyke honoring Hawaiian values of love and respect for ohana (family) and this ocean.”
As I stood there looking at the statue with my camera in hand, a young boy suddenly jumped in front of me and said— “Lady, could you please take a picture of me riding the seal? Please, can I be in a picture with that seal? Please!”
When I said yes, he quickly ran over to the statue and laid down on the back of the bronze Hawaiian monk seal. As soon as I took his photo, the boy jumped off, said “thank you” with a smile, and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Since I did not know who he was (and still do not), he never got to see his photo. Perhaps he was a wandering Menehune?
I didn’t realize until later, when I looked at the image on my computer, that there was magic in that boy’s eyes. His face and his posture show a genuine love and respect for both the seal and the environment around him. A perfect tribute to the children’s book by Mr. Van Dyke.
In the morning light—
cold dark days of winter gone,
flowers blooming bright.
People stop and stare.
Winter lost its fight
melted by the Robin’s song,
spring is in the air! ~ms
IF you have a cat~~~
Whenever you go
walking in the night—
to turn on the lights,
because you don’t know
who might be sleeping
under the faucet
curled up in the sink
not expecting water
or something to drink. ~ms
I woke up some time after midnight, thirsty.
So I walked into the dark bathroom, picked up a cup, and reached over to turn on the water.
My hand bumped into something fuzzy furry.
I jumped back, my heart racing.
But when I turned on the light, I saw it was only our Siamese cat (Siri) sleeping happily, right underneath the faucet.
We have had Siri for over a year, and she had never done this before.
What would have happened if my hand had not brushed across her ear, before I turned on the water? I shudder to think! The cold water on her back would have caused her to jump out of the sink in fear, with claws extended. And I, in the darkness, would have been wrestling with a furry night terror that I could not see. It would have been a howling scene!
New house rules — in the night, lights on before proceeding.
We agreed to rendezvous
on these pink flowers,
but I have no GPS
and to my dismay
pink is everywhere.
I’ve been lost for hours
searching through flowers
while you patiently
waited here for me.
So sorry that I’m late.
Please accept my
butterfly apology. ~ms
I was living on a soft cloud before I was born, enjoying the celestial music of the spheres. My existence was heavenly until a strange man, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a dark cloak, floated in on a hot breeze. He bowed, tipped his hat, and introduced himself as Damien—Travel Agent of the Stars. Looking back, it was more likely that he was a travel agent from hell, but I was too foolish and naive to realize.
I was immediately impressed by his eloquent words and fascinating stories. At the end of his smooth sales pitch, Damien handed me a beautiful brochure. It was filled with images of wonderful places that I would be able to see if I signed his Life Travel Contract, agreeing to be born into human form. He showed me a detailed photo of the waiting room that I would be allowed to live inside until my birth. The room had a lovely bench covered by an archway, leading to a glorious path unknown.
In spite of Damien’s enthusiasm and the lovely photos, I must admit that I was a little worried. This was going to be a big change for me, and change is not always a good thing. So I asked him if I could take some time and read through his Life Travel Contract before I signed (it was over 1,000 pages long).
He laughed at me and said, “Oh, don’t worry. You don’t need to read all of this miscellaneous stuff now! Just sign it and you can find out what’s in it later. You’ll have plenty of time to read while you’re growing in the waiting room for 9 months. By the time you are born into the world, you will know everything you need to know. Trust me. Life on Earth will be awesome. Why would I lie to you? You’re going to love it! Traveling in human form is the only way to experience true happiness. Everybody is doing it! ”
God forgive me—I was such a gullible soul! I picked up his wicked pen, signed the contract, and immediately fell into the total darkness of the waiting room. It was nothing like the picture that Damien had showed me. There was no light, so I could not read through the contract as I had planned. In fact, all of the papers in my hand slowly dissolved into the fluid that I was floating in. I must admit that I did bump into some sort of dark archway made of bone several times, so at least he didn’t completely lie about that.
After 8 ½ months, I got extremely anxious and horribly claustrophobic. I began banging on the bone archway, demanding to be born prematurely. I got my wish but, because I was not in the right position, I was born into this material world backwards. Frantic voices were yelling, “It’s a breech! We’re going to have to push it back up and turn it around!” This was an exceedingly painful experience for everyone, especially for me and my new mom.
Many years have gone by since then, and now I know why Damien didn’t want to give me a chance to read the fine print. Among other things, he conveniently forgot to mention that all human life ends in death. Not many souls would agree to come here if they knew that in advance, so Damien lied. He knew true happiness could not be experienced in human form, because everything in this life is tinged with the shadow of death.
Now, even though I enjoy this life to some extent, I live every day knowing that I will eventually lose everything here that I love. That’s why, when I die and leave this world, no one is going to trick me into coming back. Not even the silver-tongued Damien, the nefarious travel agent of the stars!
Word to the wise:
Never sign anything that you haven’t been given time to read.
Within light shadows stood
orange colors, specks of white,
mushroom in the woods.
Inedible or edible,
bad or good to eat?
Is this extremely poisonous
or a tasty treat?
I don’t know the answer
and I’d rather not be dead,
so I think I’ll get my mushrooms
from the grocery store instead! ~ms
My mom always bought mushrooms, because she liked to toss a few in when she was making spaghetti. So when I saw little white mushrooms growing out in the yard one day, I picked a few and brought them into the kitchen, thinking she would be happy to have them. (Since I was only about 6 years old, I didn’t know that some mushrooms are dangerous to eat).
Needless to say, she wasn’t happy to see me with a handful of unidentified yard mushrooms. “Oh my God. Did you eat any of those?” she yelled in a panicked voice.
I said, “No…I just thought that….”
Before I could finish, she interrupted— “These are probably poisonous! Do you want to die a painful death? Only people who know what they are doing can touch mushrooms. Go wash your hands right now and don’t you ever do this again!”
A lot of time has passed since then, but I still remember her stern warning. Last year when I saw a glorious orange mushroom in my yard, I took a photo instead of pulling it out of the ground. And then, I searched through many articles online trying to find an identifying photo. I could be wrong, but I have come to the conclusion that this is an Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)—a poisonous psychoactive ‘magic shroom’ that is sometimes used in shamanic rituals and ceremonies: http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/plantprofiles/flyagaric.php
Whatever the case, don’t worry mom. I didn’t eat this mushroom, my camera did!
Spirits of the past
trapped in dark shadows cast
by a graveyard sun,
stand by nameless headstones
whispering sad stories
of young lives prematurely
lost to death’s cold hand
on Civil War battlefields.
Courageous in the battle,
Confederate and Union
brother against brother,
these soldiers did their best
and prayed a loving God
would someday give them rest.
Now weathered by the years,
an old stone angel
still guards these forlorn graves
giving lost souls direction
with her missing hand. ~ms
We moved to the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania Virginia area about 10 years ago, and we are surrounded by Civil War Battlefields. In fact, I recently found out that we are actually living on the Chancellorsville Battlefield. (The battlefield encompasses a rather large area of land, and some houses were built on part of it before the National Park Service purchased the rest).
Because I am living on a battlefield, I often think about the war, even though I don’t know much about the specific battles. Sometimes—when it is damp, cold, and rainy like today—I look through my kitchen window and imagine young soldiers wandering around out there (a few no older than 10 years old), far from the comfort of home. Tired, wet, and probably feeling lost.
There is also a long trench hidden in the woods of our backyard. I think of the soldiers lying there on wet leaves trying to sleep, most likely dealing with spiders, mosquitoes, deer ticks, and an occasional snake. I’m sure that many of them, when no one else was looking, laid there and cried uncontrollably.
When good people are born into difficult situations, hard decisions often have to be made. I am sure that all of the soldiers of the American Civil War spent many a dark night wishing they were in their warm bed at home, with a comforting fire burning in the family hearth. But fate, and the unsettled sociopolitical atmosphere of those times, pulled their lives in a different direction. They courageously did the best that they could. God bless them.
Just My Imagination
I said, “Wow! The bent over pine tree in this photo looks like a tired mom carrying her baby!”
Peering over my shoulder, my husband replied, “Ummm…No. I don’t see that.”
I said, “Oh, come on. Take a closer look. Two little legs are hanging out of the snow blanket that the tree is carrying.”
He stared at the photo for a minute or so, and then he shook his head and sighed: “No. I don’t see a mom, a blanket, or a baby. No. Sorry. Just snow on a pine tree.”
I laughed, “OK. Never mind. I see them!”
In the past few years, I have seen quite a few deer in my backyard munching on various plants. But the summer of 2010 was the first (and only) time that I have ever seen a buck with a full set of antlers. How handsome he looked standing under the river birch tree, decorated with leafy shadows. I picked up my camera and quietly walked outside, hoping to get his photo before he ran away.
To my surprise, when the buck saw me, he just stood there unmoved by my presence. I could almost hear him thinking, “Oh…it’s that lady that I’ve heard about. She is the one who shoots deer with a camera instead of a gun. No reason to leave.”
We looked at each other for a few minutes and then he went right back to eating the clover. Even though he acted as if he was completely unconcerned, he continued to keep his head turned in my direction. I could tell that he was watching me.
Because I wanted to get a better look at his antlers, I decided to try to come a few steps closer to him. However, as soon as I started to move, he shifted his stance, raised his eyes in my direction, and I heard him thinking—“Don’t you dare come any closer.”
Respecting his unspoken wishes, I stopped my advance and stood in silence watching the speckled shadows of river birch leaves moving across his body in rhythm with the summer breeze. He stayed for a little while longer, and then he turned and wandered off into the woods—leaving me with a wonderful memory.