Below is a collection of short stories written and edited by members of the Canandaigua Writers’ Group. These works are available for enjoyment and inspiration, please be respectful and refrain from replicating these stories without consent from the author. Please send questions and comments to Assistant Director & Adult Services Librarian, Ron Kirsop, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy.
WOOD WRITERS GROUP EXPLAINED BY CAROL ANN CRESWELL
We gather on the first Friday of each month, and put our ‘creative musings’ out there for all the world to see. After a coffee, a cookie, and conversation, designated speakers for the day share their feelings and observations with the group, and ask for critique. That isn’t so easy, you know. Many of the assemblage have a true gift for expression in poetry or prose. All come from many walks of life. There’s Maureen, who’s writing a memoir for her grandchildren and her stories of growing up poor in a huge family 70 years ago fascinate us. There’s young Linda, who shares her fantasy- novel chapters with us. There’s Bill, who likes to tell horse—stories of his youth in stables around the country, and has had many stories published. There’s Jim, our engineer-philosopher, who writes of interstellar love, and Terry, whose Nature poems have us besotted with visualized beauty. Mike intrigues us with stories of the bumbling Irish Inspectors, Blathers and Duff, and Diane entrances us with Texas bluebonnets in her poetry. Karen illustrates her children’s stories with lovely fanciful mice, and Carol writes sardonic pieces of Love gone wrong with Poisoned Pie for revenge, or tells us Ghost stories of local houses. Doris chronicles her mother’s childhood adventures in Switzerland, and Sally describes the adventures of Violet, the lady of ill-repute. Yep, it’s a great Friday morning.
by Terry Le Feber
She stood at the window, 1,000 feet above the snow covered valley below, fascinated by the lone American Eagle that had been gliding, diving, and now soaring upwards.
The creature with its gyrations enchanted her, taking her mind to another realm that she had either ignored or had not consciously visited before.
This new world was in the heart of Virginia’s fabled Blue Ridge Mountains with the Shenandoah Valley cradled beneath. Here, in a rustic log cabin, complete with a stone fireplace and crackling fire fed by hard rock maple logs, she and he were having their quiet time away from the rest of the world. A few days for peace and reflection. A time for self-examination: to exchange, explore, feel bottled up emotions. To better understand themselves and each other.
He was still sleeping in the queen size bed they shared while she viewed the valley below with its eagle ballet.
Following the elegant bird with its white head, flashing yellow beak and talons, she saw it fold its wings and dive at unimaginable velocity at some unknown prey. While she could not see all, she did visualize the bird’s screech as it extended talons to grasp its quarry. She did see the massive beast rise from the valley floor and begin to climb upwards…to her.
To her? Well, towards her as she knew the bird did not know of her presence. Maybe that of the cabin with its warm smoke curling from the chimney, but certainly not its occupants.
But, a moment later there it was, wings fully extended, something clutched firmly within its talons, coming towards the tiny cabin.
Without warning, almost touching the windows glass, the beautiful bird of prey turned, and raced skyward.
Taken aback, somewhat frightened, with heart pounding she looked upward to see the winged creature soaring into the clouds, and then downward, her eyes falling on the window sill. There, unmarred lay a sprig of green Holly with a bunch of bright red berries. Nature’s welcome to Spring.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
by Judith W. VanDeVelde
The cousins that I was closest to were the six children of my mother’s oldest sister and her husband, Aunt Eloise and Uncle Bob. They lived a few blocks away.
There was a bakery at the end of their street and we found that we could get fresh, broken cookies, if we hung around the back door. There were chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter, and molasses – all were delicious! Even better than the taste of those cookies was the aroma! Mmmm, mmm!
There was a movie theater quite close to my cousins’ house. It was filled with children on Saturdays because it only cost a quarter to get in. I especially remember cartoons, news, and Westerns. It was a great place to be.
Each summer we had a fair in my cousins’ back yard. The whole neighborhood was invited. We each had a different job to do. We thought we were pretty clever. One booth, draped with a blanket, had a sign, “See the monkey.” Inside was nothing but a big mirror!
There were contests at our fair. Who could run the fastest, throw a ball the farthest, or drop the most clothespins in a bottle. We always had prizes. We put our pennies together and would go to a toy store near our house. We could get an amazing amount of little plastic toys and trinkets for very little money. Perfect for our fair!
When I was in Fourth Grade our family moved to a different city neighborhood. My Aunt Eloise and Uncle Bob moved their family to the suburbs. They had a small ranch home on the canal. It was a tight squeeze with six children, but they made it work.
We didn’t have any more fairs, but the adventures continued. They had sock hops, and picnics. In the winter there was sledding and snowball fights. There was a bowling alley nearby. We would walk there on a Saturday and bowl a game or two and meet up with some of my cousins’ friends.
My cousin, David, was my age. When he came to my house we’d ride bikes, talk, and visit his Grandma, ‘Nana.’ She had an accent and it was sometimes hard to understand her, but you could feel her love and happiness that we were there.
The years have gone by and my Aunt Eloise and Uncle Bob have passed away. All of their children married and some of them moved quite far away. Their children have even had children now. My cousin Brenda’s daughter and her husband bought the house on the canal. Sometimes my other cousins and their families come back for a parade or a picnic or a family reunion. Something unusual always happens – like having a surprise birthday get-together for one of them and having everyone run into each other at a nearby bookstore.
Sadly, we lost one cousin Carl, this past year. I’m sure that things are livelier in Heaven with him there! It continues to be an adventure to be around my cousins. I am thankful for the happiness they brought into my life when I was growing up and I look forward to more good times.
The truck slingin’ hombre stood tall above the wooden toy box ,
A paper crown of golden hue hid the cowboy’s mowed down locks.
His name was Levi, the truck-slingin’ boy,
and he was the sheriff of these here toys.
The planes and trains trembled in fear, the cars and trucks scrambled for shade,
Beneath stuffed toys far and near with which his sisters often played.
When Levi came to town, ev’ry toy would shudder and cower,
His law and order he laid down upon those feisty hours.
His hands were a crane scooping its victims despite their fancied cries,
Some called him hero, an angel who cared, of that no one denies.
Yet many would lose a faulty limb from a fall or a reckless crash,
And suffer the fate of a sudden thump landing them straight in the trash.
His name was Levi, the truck-slingin’ king with swagger and strut his crown he would fling,
The toys dreaded unaware of their fate as he lifted them coolly out of the crate.
Tucked into bed a full day behind, trucks in one hand and blanket aligned,
His yawn as wide as the Rio Grande, asleep with dreams of tomorrow’s plans.+
His parents taught him to walk in God’s light,
Be kind to his sisters and never fight,
To show love for his toys with blessings galore,
His trucks were not far from the ones he adored.
Grandma and grandpa, his cousins and friends,
Aunts and uncles, and the love they would send,
Softened his heart towards the toys on the mend,
Tempered his nature, compassion to lend.
It was trucks and cars, dozers and trains,
Hugging both sides come sunshine or rain.
A gentle grip for shielding his friends,
Solemn vow to protect to the end.
Levi, Defender, a soother with songs, many a hymn would he hum the day long,
Intent was his job to tend all his stock just as the Lord watches over His flock.
A shield at his side, sword readied to fight, Levi befitted the shining white knight,
For the frail he became outspoken, champion of the damaged and the broken.
His trucks became many an armful to hold,
They shared his affection and love overflowed.
Surrounded by sisters, four girls in a row,
It was play all their games or off he would go.
So Levi, the cowboy, in the corner alone, planted the seeds for a town that had grown,
He talked to his cars, trucks, tractors and rigs, surrounded by the horses, the cows and some pigs.
As Levi spent his time to create, they all found their use, they all had their place,
His world became the sounds and the sights, his dreams transformed into highways and lights.
A sudden appearance, the girls in surprise begged Levi to play with no compromise,
Known to say ‘no’ when he meant ‘yes’, he finally gave in to their squealing request.
A secret smile he shared in his pride, unseen was the youngest who snuck by his side,
to snatch from the treasure, attention adrift, and run to mommy with arms uplift.
The trucks for consent now Levi does beg to play demo using the patio door,
Smash go the cars as they kiss the couch leg or tumble the stairs to the living room floor.
Viking hat, cape, and sword flung to the rug when his daddy and mommy sneak an attack,
Amorous moments with loving hugs shooting kisses and tickling the small of his back.
Turning into a Bible’s great hero, David with slingshot in search of the giant,
Goliath we’d play and a rock he would throw as he climbed up our legs defiant,
Making his sounds when it struck with a blow, to our backs like a sack we would drop,
Then with a turn Levi proudly would go after pleading for mercy to stop.
So this is the saga of the truck-slinging boy,
Levi, the hombre, his trucks, trains and toys.
The legend surrounded by family who show,
Levi the way for his spirit to grow.
A Collection of Quotes that Inspires the Writer’s Group
“A HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE WRITING LIFE IS LIKE A SIMPLE, PERFECT DINNER, OR PRAYER AND MEDITATION. IT’S SOUL FOOD.” Writer Judy Van Velde quoted from Heather Sellers
“Keep Trying. Pay attention to Beauty. It can be anywhere. The soul cries out to wipe away ugliness.”
Author unknown, submitted by writer Edi Hsu”‘We are apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a Master.”
by Ernest Hemingway, submitted by writer Sally Crosiar.
“IF THERE’S A BOOK THAT YOU WANT TO READ, BT IT HASN’T BEEN WRITTEN YET, YOU MUST WRITE IT.”
by Toni Morrison. Submitted by Linda Mcilveen
“Writing is a matter of choosing what’s most interesting from among infinite multitudes of ideas.”
by Jim Cook, Wood Writer
“Never underestimate the power of a word.”
by Diane Jones, Wood Writer
“You must stay drunk on writing, so reality cannot destroy you.”
by Ray Bradbury, submitted by Carol Ann Creswell
“Everything in creation has its appointed painter poet, and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale, till its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.”
by Ralph Waldo Emerson, submitted by Karen Sorce
“I WRITE TO HOLD WHAT I FIND IN MY LIFE , IN MY HANDS, AND DECLARE IT A TREASURE.”
from ‘The Art of Teaching Writing, submitted by Lucy Calkins
“Everyday might not be a good one, but there is good in everyday.”
by Unknown, submitted by Terry Le Ferber
RALPH THE BUDGIE
by Carol Creswell
Ralph was a pal who could speak 17 words.
He was a parakeet who could give a wolf whistle.
He could call the dog, with a ‘wheet wheet wheet wheet”, and my border
collie Lassie would come running .
There Lassie sat, tongue panting, tail wagging, and Ralph with a smile-(-I
swear it’s true)–on his beak.
Ralph’s green neon-feathered head would bob in delight when I neared his
He met my welcoming hand with affection–perhaps too much affection, for
he was a male parakeet with too many hormones and not a place to spend
Bright electric-green plumage crowned his head and wings, while his
handsome little face bore a necklace of black polka dots.
A friend named Janice had hand-raised him, from a tiny hairless bundle of
skin and bones, telling me that a parakeet that feels the touch of a human
hand frequently will be a better pet and will bond with human beings more
Though he was left with his mother for 8 weeks, he was handled every day
by Jan, before he became my pet.
It was certainly true, little Ralph had bonded with me.
He loved to listen to songs on the radio, preferring Dolly Parton with her
high pitched soprano, or the sound of a violin or fiddle.
When I taught him to repeat sounds, I would say the word over and over
and I would choose a different tone for each repetition.
‘Pretty boy’, ‘pretty girl’, ‘gimmie kiss’, ‘pretty please’, ‘mama’, ‘daddy’, love
you’, were all part of his vocabulary.
He loved to chirp or talk along with the vacuum cleaner.
I never brought it too close to his cage, preferring to move him to another
room when the Hoover ‘slurped’ up the mountain of moulted feathers that
occurred every 5 months.
Ralph loved his bath…the trouble is, everything that held water became his
He fluttered in his water dish daily. When I let him out of his cage, he loved
puttering around a steamy shower room.
Naturally, I had to make sure the toilet lid was down and also that there was
no water in the sink!
Since his wings had been clipped, he never was an Ace navigator while on
When he was out of the cage, he’d loop and dash madly for a window,
clawing his way up a curtain and staying just above the dog’s inquisitive
He WAS very untidy, if the truth be known.
Seeds and chaff were all over the house, and the way he shredded-and
discarded stems of celery and lettuce-was enough to drive me to drink.
Oh, yes, of course, drink.
Yep, I remember cleaning up after a party. Before I could wash all the dirty
glasses that held a few drops of adult beverage in the bottoms, old Ralph
had taken a sample….a drunk bird is a sight to behold.
He’d flutter and flop, do a crazy little dance on the settee, walk with his
eyes half closed, and finally plop down on the carpet, sound asleep.
When I hoisted him back to his cage, I decided that was the first and last
partying Ralph would enjoy. I didn’t want the ASPCA to jail me for “bird
Ralph was my dear little companion for 6 years. When I went on vacation,
I took him over to Clark Manor House in Canandaigua, New York for HIS
vacation with my clients—I was a nurse at the senior citizen home.
Those ladies and gents really loved Ralph! He chattered and they listened,
they fed him so many greens that he practically needed a diaper.
One summer vacation week, he was held hostage by an elderly senile
She wouldn’t let me take him back home until the Clark Manor Matron of
the Home took over and distracted her while I escaped with Ralph.
Alas, that was the end of Ralph’s little vacations at the Manor House.
I loved him and cherished him, and often took him out in his cage in the
summer to sit in a shaded locale in the yard while I knitted or read.
He’d respond very loudly to other bird calls in the area, and learned a
.he learned to talk Cardinal!
Somehow he caught a chill one Christmas time, probably because I left him
with his first ‘foster mother’ Janice and her sniffling birds while I went on
vacation for a week.
He shuddered and trembled, oral antibiotics and a warm lightbulb near his
covered cage couldn’t heal him,
and his little heart gave out.
Mine almost did, too.
‘Rest in Peace.”
I sure miss you, little guy.
December 7 Remembered
by Terry Le Feber
As fleets at anchor
In many harbors safe
Final service done
Awaiting more to come
On sacred resting places
In straight rows moored
White masts stand
Saluting valiant warriors
Awaiting more to come
Asleep in honored silence
No more hearts do thrum
All rest together
Christian, Heathen, Jew
Awaiting more to come
Let not these lives be forgotten
Their sacrifices undone
But remember always
They died to keep silent
The roar of future guns
by Terry Le Feber
“No Moon. No light. No nuthin’. Not the best night to be out on a call,” Stolik said.
“Just keep walking. We should find it pretty soon. I can feel we’re close,” Burlingame answered.
“Yeah. Sure,” Stolik groaned. “All part of the job. Part of any stake out.”
The two figures, brimmed hats pulled down, collars turned up against the cold night air, walked through
the old church cemetery, passing row upon row of weathered and cracked headstones. They were
searching for a body, phoned in by an anonymous caller. A classic portrait for a film noir.
“Ah, there it is,” Burlingame announced as they approached the corpse spread eagled, face up, on an
overturned ancient headstone. “What ya think? Dead?”
“Don’t know for sure. Let’s see,” Stolik bent over slowly removing the wooden shaft protruding from
the corpse’s chest.
With a mighty tug Stolik wrested the shaft from the body. In that same moment, the supine body
gasped and lunged to its feet.
The young lady with a gaping hole in her chest smiled at the two men and said, “Thank you.”
“No problem, Ma’am,” replied Burlingame. “Wish all our stake outs were this easy.”
“A Conversation With Santa”
by Karen Sorce
Only these gifts,
Not toys or dolls,
Not slippers or scarves,
But love, kindness,
Family and joy.
Not candy canes or cookies
But God’s blessings so sweet.
These are my wishes
For Christmas this year.
You can’t make those
In your workshop,
Your sleigh can’t carry them.
But, Santa, please bring
These gifts in your heart
To spread everywhere.
As you circle the globe
On one magical night,
I believe you can do this .
You can spread Christmas spirit,
A memory of what Christmas day
Truly means to hearts everywhere.
DAY OF REVISION OF REALITY
10/2012 by Chaplain Maureen Thitchner
When I was a chaplain at the Buffalo Children’s Hospital, I was called to the emergency room one evening. An 8-year old boy had been involved in a serious auto accident. The car in which he was a passenger, with his mother at the wheel, had been hit broadside by a man who had run a red light. As this young boy lay in a coma, all his father could do was to plan his revenge. Instead of being there, totally, with his wife during her time of suffering, he just kept repeating over and over, “I’ll get that guy – He’ll pay for this.” His hands were so tightly clenched in fists that his wife could not make contact with him, and so she reached out and held my hand. She needed a human connection, and her husband wasn’t able to offer that to her. I remember wishing he would let himself grieve instead of venting his anger and planning his revenge. It’s not that I don’t believe that the driver who ran the red light should not have to accept responsibility for the result of his actions. He should - definitely. Insurance would of course take care of a lot of the expenses that the family incurred. And perhaps other fines, and maybe even jail time. But those things are too remote. They don’t really involve the driver in a redemptive way. And suing him further, which I feel was the father’s intent, for mental anguish or whatever the term is, is not redemptive either. In fact both parties become adversaries. And adversarial relationships pre-empt any possibility for real honest concern for each other.
The driver who ran the red light and caused so much suffering for this young boy and his family was not present at the bedside. He was home worrying about what effects his actions would have on his privilege to drive or on his financial situation. He was no doubt planning his defense while the boy’s father was planning his offense. As the child lay in a coma plans were being made for an adversarial relationship. Had the driver been made to sit there by the bedside and get involved with this family, the consequences of his actions would have become much clearer than they became while he waited to hear from his insurance company, and whatever legal charges may have been placed against him. If he faced this sorrowing family and expressed his sorrow for his actions that resulted in their pain, some healing might have taken place. He should have been made to take time off from work and sit with them in the intensive care waiting room, and gone to the cafeteria to get them coffee and sandwiches, because they were afraid to leave the area and not be available 24 hours a day. I ran their errands while the person responsible for their pain was not there. He had caused what was going on in that hospital and he was almost totally separated from what he had caused. The boy recovered – no brain damage, and no physical damage that would last his lifetime. His father was damaged, however.
The driver may never run a red light again, but I doubt it’s because of the pain he caused. He wasn’t very aware of it. It matters what motivates our actions. It’s not enough that he may be a safer driver in the future, although that’s good; it’s better if he’s a safer driver, not because of punishment and financial loss, but because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone else through his actions behind the wheel or anywhere else. That is my hope for him. That is my revised vision of reality whenever I hear about tragedies that are the result of accidents through ill thought out actions.
The sun was rising, making Florida a hot, sticky place. I jogged down a path, concentrating on putting one foot after the other without having a heat stroke. Passing a building, I noticed something on the red tile in front of the door. I knelt down, expecting the creature to be dead. The tiger swallowtail butterfly moved, but obviously was on her last legs. Tattered, faded, worn, she didn’t look as though she could fly away. She reminded me of a sort of warrior, having survived the ravages of nature, morphing from caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, migrating, mating, laying her eggs, seeking nectar, avoiding predators. Now her wings were faded and torn, but she still spread them. I moved her to the safety of a nearby flowerbed, hoping she would like it there and be comfortable among the cool petals. I thought she was still beautiful and told her goodbye. The next day I stopped to see if she was still there but she was gone. Perhaps she still had one more flight in her warrior wings.
Today I walked on water
On A path above
The mighty Genesee
A calm cool day
THE Sun rises higher–
IT Warms THE world beneath
15 turtles sun on A log
On A protruding sand bar
Three Blue Herons ignore me
Two White Swans
With their two brown cygnets
Put on A show
Lone snowy egret
And I EYE him
Red Winged Blackbirds dart about
A Stray Monarch Butterfly
Searches for sweetness
Time to return home
Something catches my eye
Red Cardinal lands at my feet
THE Cardinal chirps
Flies to A branch above me
Life is good.
Terry Le Feber
September 24, 2012
The Backfield by Linda McIlveen
Crisp and clear autumn fell over our backfield. The setting sun was painting the corn with a golden hue while the trees adorned with red, orange, and yellow stood sentinel.
My dad and I looked out of the window upon this scene in silence each lost in our own thoughts, yet sharing a sense of peace. I wondered whether Dad was seeing the strawberry vines that once grew there, remembering the times he’d helped with the plowing and the harvesting.
My own thoughts drifted to the walks and picnics I’d had with my sister, friends, and our dogs between plantings. How my mother and I hunted for treasures in a dump in the field behind ours and watching the barn cats play ‘whack a mole’ after the crops had been cut.
Twenty one years later, it’s hard to remember just how long my Dad and I stood there that eve, but that shared piece of time remains forever locked in my memory. For my father passed away early the next morning, October 14, 1991.
Years later, due to an unexpected reaction to a prescribed medication, I almost joined my father in the next life. I had passed out on a sidewalk on a cold winter’s day. The paramedic who came to my aid told my mother and sister I had no pulse, and my blood pressure was dangerously low.
All I knew was that I found myself lying on warm, soft ground, surrounded by sunflowers, looking up at a magnificent blue sky. I was safe, cradled by the legacy of land passed down through three generations of my family. I was in the backfield, our own little piece of heaven.
Let’s Pretend by Sally Crosiar
I’m not sure how old I was when I discovered writing as a new and effective way to play “let’s pretend,” but I do remember the feeling of being able to reinvent who I was, what I did, and what I had. In story I was what I’d always wanted to be – a teenager who sped to excitement in a creamy yellow Mustang convertible. Oh yeah. I liked “let’s pretend!”
Most of my life, I relied on the writing of others for my pretend fix. I always wrote – professional letters, reports, news releases, grants, even curricula. Nothing pretend about it, but practicing all along, diagramming those sentences in my head instead of using the reams of paper that Mrs. Malone required back in fifth grade. When I read a good story – or even one not so good – I wondered if a novelist’s skills might be something I could acquire. But with no knowledge how to begin, and no fire in the belly compelling me to say something, I just kept reading.
When I met Dave, I had something to say. It seemed our story had a larger purpose – that we were meant to share how we found and built our lives around each other. No need to pretend, not with a story as rich and hopeful as ours. Find the Love of Your Life, well along, but not self-published in actual book form until a year and a few days after Dave died, was the lever that helped propel me through a formidable wall of loss.
Writing helped me heal, and then to move forward. A personal ad had brought Dave and me together, but nearly ten years later, technology advances led me to meeting new guy friends via the Internet. What an interesting adventure! I expected to learn about prospective candidates for new love – and I did. A lot. Was he careful in his language? Was he illustrative in his portrayal of himself and the turn of events that led him to my computer screen? Was he someone I would like to meet?
What I didn’t expect, as someone who thought of herself as self-aware, was to learn so much about me from the Internet dating process! Yet as I found myself filtering words to describe myself, I was amazed at the vast previously unexplored notions I discovered inside this person with whom I’d spent my whole life. Writing taught me more than I’d imagined.
Now I find myself observing people – real, non-fiction people – and constructing full-blown “let’s pretend” circumstances from the meager scraps of chance encounters. I mold stories from my ever so slightly real people and give them hopes, dreams, drama, and human foibles of my own invention. And then I wait and let them tell me what happens next in their story – every time I sit to write.
I meet fellow writers monthly at Wood Library for a booster shot of motivation, and then I go back to my desk and play more “let’s pretend.” It’s the very best game I know.
I decided to try not thinking of an elephant. I thought the best approach was to concentrate on something else so completely the elephant would stay away. I tried toad stools, conjuring up a patch and thinking of one particular big one. Half way to my goal of 60 seconds it suddenly popped into my head that maybe toad stools was the wrong approach as elephants might eat them and sure enough an elephant came by snagging a whole bunch in its trunk. It seemed that whatever I picked to think about there seemed to be an association somewhere with an elephant.
Well, an elephant is so large it can’t help but make an impression; I wondered if something smaller would work. Why not concentrate on an elephant and not think of, say, a mouse. Of course, you can see already what went wrong; as everybody knows elephants are afraid of mice and my specimen was frightened away by the appearance of the very critter I was to keep out of the picture.
I tried again with ants and found that ants will invade anywhere. The ultimate challenge is always the elephant, so I decided to try it again. This time, something foolproof would be a distraction.
Why not an alluring woman, perhaps an exotic dancer, the less clothing the better? This seemed sure to succeed for a while.
Then she started to talk, saying she wanted to quit this and take up a more exciting career as a circus performer. Needless to say I immediately conjured the image of her riding about on the back of an elephant with her long hair flowing in the breeze.
I have no doubt that I have gone considerable periods without thinking of an elephant but it is doing it on demand that is so difficult.
Just beneath the surface is the instruction not to think of the elephant, the dominant task you are performing, the least stray thought that enters will be associated with that task and connect itself with the elephant.
A blank mind doesn’t seem to work either; the knowledge of what you are doing is just beneath the surface. The question simply pops into your awareness after a while, “What am I doing? Oh, I am doing nothing at all, just not thinking of an elephant.”
I was born at a very young age; the son of Jor-el and Lara; who were well placed in the social order of our society. Since they were wealthy we had advanced technology and received radio signals from afar so I was exposed to English at a young age. Unfortunately the only person who I could interact with in this language was my father. Due to global warming and constant oil drilling our planet was deemed to be unstable. My Uncle ElGora warned of the consequences. My father listened and constructed a small rocket ship and sent me into space. I landed on Earth and was raised by adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha. After an uneventful childhood I ended up at a large metropolitan newspaper where I realized my writing destiny and became a well known reporter. I did use a pseudonym for reasons I will not indulge and had to overcome incessant urges to leap buildings, race bullets and stop locomotives; the latter because my health insurance was very restrictive
When I was in Seventh Grade, I had a dog that I loved. She was a fawn-colored boxer named Fawn. You know how certain dogs have a favorite person. Well, I was Fawn’s favorite person. That year I decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian. It was also the year that I began to learn the power of words.
There was an essay contest for all Seventh Graders. A winner would be chosen from each class. In my school, there were two Seventh Grades. We had to write an essay about our pet or about pet care. The winners would be honored at a special dinner put on by the Chamber of Commerce. They would also get to attend a Dog Show that would be held in our city.
I wanted to go to the Dog Show very much so I worked hard to write the best story I could. I wrote from my heart and told what a difference a dog could make in a person’s life and how my life was better because I had Fawn. I was the winner from my class and the winner from the other seventh Grade was just about the most handsome and kindest boy in the school.
The dinner was great. It was my first time to have a swordfish steak. I received a special certificate and my free tickets to the Dog Show. That was something I will never forget.
From then on, I put more effort into my writing. When I got to high school, I joined the staff of the school newspaper. I loved writing and joined the staff of my college newspaper, too. As a teacher, I enjoyed writing stories and songs for my children at school. As a parent, I wrote stories about my own children.
Now that I’m retired and babysitting for my grandchildren, I’m sometimes too busy or tired to write. But all I have to do is see a new pad of paper and a pen or pencil beside it. The tiredness disappears and I’m ready to write!!!!
I write in order to hear what I am thinking and feeling. I have been writing since my early teens—mostly little essays and an occasional poem. The earliest ones seem odd to me now, either so very “young” or so very “old.” In some ways I am younger now than I was then, I think.
What do I write? I watch, listen, and dream until an idea, place or personal interaction touches me in some way that requires further exploration. Words are precious to me—they are the only way I have to make contact with others, and sometimes with myself.
I love structuring sentences with cadence and clarity. To do that well enough to evoke a question or insight, smile, or tears in another feels like a miracle to me. Conversations that are written have the wonderful ability to be revisited and reinterpreted over time.
What I wrote many years ago is tempered by my living since. I still recognize that it remains part of who I am today.
How do I write? Any idea usually gets a brief note somewhere. Then, when I find it again, it calls me to put it into words. Often I start with prose. Questions arise: What is there about this that I find interesting? Would I tell a friend about it? How? Why? What would I tell?
Sometimes a poem appears. Perhaps an old traditional form with rhyming lines presents itself. Lately, I have been playing with Haiku, a Japanese syllable-driven form that demands much discipline. I find it hard, but satisfying. One day, I observed a small snake lying in the sun. Nearby was a chicken pecking. I wondered how a barefoot child might react to this:
Version 1: Snake slithers in grass.
Chicken pecks too near bare feet.
They decide to leave.
Version 2: Bare child feet dance here
where snake slides, hen pecks
They decide to leave.
I think version 2 is more fun. Do you? Why? Write your own version—have fun!!
The Ring of Fire around the lake signaled the beginning of autumn. The air was cool, the trees were changing. With heavy heart, she fled down to the shore once more. She had left here so many years ago. Her long-ago lover made it clear their future together was never to be.
Seeing the lake in the moonlight brought it all back. They had sat on the shore in the darkness at Kershaw Park on that long-ago evening. He had said “goodbye” the night before Labor Day. The fireworks flared over the water as the pain of that parting flared in her heart.
She had hugged her landlord goodbye, had given away the cat, and had accepted a position in Denver,Colorado. For twenty years, she had made her home in the mile high city, so far from the forests and lakes of upstate New York.
The lake always, always called to her. As she skied the Colorado Mountains, or white- water rafted on the canyon-sided rivers, she remembered Johnny. His handsome face. His gentle arms. His look of regret. His farewell.
She lit her rosy flare and added it to the hundreds lining the shore for all the length of Canandaigua Lake, 18 miles of pristine glacier-melted water. It was nine o’clock, the traditional beginning of the ritual. For 60 years, the candles and bonfires and flares that commemorated the Indian farewell and gratitude to Mother Earth’s bountiful Harvest had been lit on this August evening. The fires hailed the coming sleep of Father Winter.
Her life had been good, she reflected. She was accepted and liked in Denver She had found a new love and had 15 years of happiness until Heaven took him away. Never a mother, she worked with children as a volunteer and sang in her church choir. She’d published a few articles and had some success as an artist. But always the hills and lakes of New Statehood called her back.
And now, again, she sat by the shore and watched the flaring bloom of the fireworks reflected in the calm dark waters. The flares flickered all along the shore. Little boats plied the waters, north and south, their winking lights showing their progress on the lake. Each shore-lining weeping willow looked like a bloom, itself, in the reflected light. She sipped her coke and watched for a while.
And then, as she got up to go and folded her blanket, she saw him sitting in the old familiar place by the picnic tables. “Oh it can’t be him,” she said. But as he came toward her, his smiling mouth framed by a silvering mustache, his tall, slender body just a little more portly, she knew she was involved in a miracle right here on the shore.
“Libby,” he breathed as he kissed her, “It’s been so long, too long, oh please let’s go and talk.”
Hand in hand, they headed for the old Colonial Inn, its bright lights gleaming. They reflected off something he wore around his neck. It was a ring on a chain. She couldn’t believe it. After all these years, he was wearing the ring she had given him 20 years ago. It gleamed like a ring of fire.