The radio belted out “Joy to the World!” You were a teenage boy, but on this Christmas morning in ‘75, excitement buzzed! Your dad watched and listened, relaxed in his corner chair, but your mom played Santa, just as jolly! The first time we met. Do you remember?
You and your dad hiked Half Dome that year, then…the many trips we booked… those rocky inclines had my sleeves shaking! Hiking to Italy Pass, 12,000 feet at the top! We did it! Trekking through the Trinity Alps, Thousand Island Lake in the Sierra. And Mount Shasta! I kept you warm when the air was ice.
What a team we made, and I couldn’t believe how beautiful the world could be…
Then with the years your adolescence faded like my blue dye, but I stayed loyal. Why wouldn’t I? You are my brother, even still, all grown up with a family of your own.
Lucky is what I feel because ages ago, I thought I’d be buried beneath piles of clothes at the bottom of a bag to be given away. But mostly, I feel privileged for my significance. I recall her vividly. She left this world too young, too soon.
You see, when we hang out, your memories transport you to that morning when her laughter was music, her smile was sunlight, her energy as vibrant as “Joy to the World.” You travel to the special place in your mind when your mom was still in your life.
Variety is the Spice of Life by Sally Cronin is a poignant collection of poetry and short stories. Reading Sally’s entrancing writing is as calming and illuminating as sitting on a slab of granite in the wilderness, witnessing the sun slowly rise to begin another glorious day. The clever cover alone caught my eye – perfect for this blend of poems and prose. Then I turned the pages, and Sally had me at “Key words” which is a short piece packed with power of how words can make our hearts sing or how they can cause our hearts to shatter. Sally writes about life and all it embodies: nature, loss, relationships, and our furry animal friends. The scenes portrayed through her beautiful writing had me drying a tear, reminiscing, and smiling.
A few favorite poems that come to mind are “Expeditions” which inspires us to step out of our comfort zones. “Above the World” speaks of memories from Sally’s youth but evokes wonderful recollections for me of recent backpacking trips with my husband. “Face in the mirror” is accompanied by a lovely, delicate picture of Sally and her mother, which brought forth priceless memories of my mom who passed away over a decade ago. “Seasons” is thought-provoking and speaks not only of nature’s changing seasons, but how life transforms over the years – how hope can be discouraged by “chill winds, the evil that is done by humans.” “Drought” undeniably hit home but ends on a much-needed high note.
Sally’s stories with their realistic and charming characters are beyond engaging as well. I love them all, but the stories that shine are “The Neighborhood Watch,” highlighting the marmalade cat with an impressive left hook. “Miss Lloyd’s Robin” is about a delightful robin, the benefits of forgiveness, and newfound friendship. “The Home Help” touches on loss of hope, unexpected surprises, learning to trust, and renewed excitement for what lies on the horizon.
Variety is the Spice of Life prompts a precious memory or chuckle or a nugget of understanding, whether it’s a poem or story that resonates, brings enjoyment, or simply touches the heart. I love Sally’s writing and highly recommend this collection for lovers of engaging stories and sentimental verse.
Reading Jeff Flesch’s poems in Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow is like strolling along a beach, allowing the waves’ lullaby to soothe your mind from any burdens. He weaves human experiences with the wonder of nature – how we are all connected. The love and sorrow he conveys through his beautiful poetic verses are almost tangible. Jeff’s use of poetic language touches on a myriad of emotions, affecting all senses. And even in sorrow, I recognized that he views life through smiling eyes.
In “Oak Trees” Jeff shares a memory from his youth, “that their branches resemble the veins of my heart or lines of the part you played.” “Slow-Motion Moments” reminds me of my many walks through a forest and how the trees, the birds, and the flowers allow time to think “like an avalanche of thoughts pervade me.” When I am among nature, I revel in the solitude that allows me to breathe in the silence of that moment with deep appreciation. “Cosmic Arts” will take you on a magical ride to contemplate love, surrounding beauty, and the mystery of Heaven “as the sun comes up inside your heart.” “Needle and Thread” tells of a love so deep and relatable; I felt myself tumbling into the beauty of Jeff’s lines. “Did you know it was you lost in my prose? Alas, as the moments tick by, it is you I look for in the wind.”
And then, “Moments Grasped” is sadly the last poem to read, but the lines are enticing, “wafting in the breeze/it’s all I can do to breathe/into this moment and the next/realizing it’s all been/and will be for the best.” Nature Speaks is exactly what the title expresses and is easily enjoyed nestled into your favorite chair, sipping a cup of coffee, tea, or even a glass of wine. Jeff’s writing is sublime, so when you reach the last page, you’ll feel a sense of melancholy. I highly recommend this lovely book for anyone who loves poetry that calms both the mind and soul.
Asunder, Baby by Steven Baird is a profound collection of prose and poetry. In his introduction, Baird conveys that short stories have never been easy for him to write. Yet, his words flow seamlessly, creating such vivid settings that I can’t fathom him having any difficulty at all. His stories and poems reveal loss, beauty, love, and despair with an intensity that digs deeply into the hearts of his readers. Baird’s originality and authenticity in portraying his characters and backdrops are the brilliance of this intellectual compilation.
I found myself dog-earing page after page. Many of the stories and poems turned into favorites, but a few I’d like to highlight are “Where we go dancing,” “Your father’s Delta 88,” “Cinnamon Suites,” “The last angel of the Lord,” and “Rhapsody.”
An example from “Where we go dancing”
“…I can dance the ears off a row of corn when I have a mind to. Why, that corn becomes ashamed of itself and wishes it could be half as worthy as old dry cabbage or a leaf of backfield tobacco then have to endure another minute of the spectaculation of my feet.”
And from “Your father’s Delta 88”
“…and watch the eddies pull quilt-shaped flowers along their creases, folding them, unfolding them, pressing their petals into wine.”
Asunder, Baby is the first book I’ve read from this author, but I look forward to reading more of his incredible storytelling and poetic verse. Highly recommended for those who love prose and poetry that have you pondering and deeply feeling at the same time.
Thanks for stopping by, andI hope you were enticed enough to click on the links for your copies of these three wonderful books! ❤️
An icy gust shadows him around the corner grazing his earlobe, cold chills ripple down his spine. But his Italian wool threads not only portray prosperity, but they also combat the frosty temperature while he slides onto black leather behind the wheel. Success sits in his suit pocket, having propelled him to the top rung of the corporate ladder.He accelerates in the Night Blue Porsche. A satisfied smile forms because he knows his arrival is highly anticipated. Down the street, she walks in her own bubble, and it’s as though she controls that gust, tamping it down to a gentle breeze. Her silver heels click on the sidewalk as she moves effortlessly. With cell on speaker, passersby become privileged to thrilling updates, and then she adds, “Have you heard the latest?” But gentle breeze be gone, she buttons upher long,wine-red coat, tightening the belt as the roaring wind wraps around her like a python. When the hailed driver meets the curb, she smugly skims over the back seat, phone chat undisturbed.
And across the way, huddled against a weathered building, he daydreams of warmth, the wind chill forcing its way through his tattered jacket – he fantasizes about lying beneath layers of fleece and wool, comfort permeating from his shaggy long brown hair to his olive-green socks full of holes. But no complaints slip through his chattering teeth. Homelessness may be his current address; however, sadness will never be his default emotion. Instead, his eyes watch as his mind formulates hope.
Down by the lake, evening emerges with the fragrance of tranquility. The shore wears nothing but a few rocks scattered in its sand. A father and son hold fishing lines in their quiet space, hoping their luck will change. A lone sailboat glides by, pausing for the unfolding. An older man with hair the color of an egret leans against a stump. The clouds understand we wait with enthusiasm. To our naked eyes, their smooth edges have been highlighted as though the sun outlined each of their fluffy shapes with a fine yellow highlighter. Occasionally, trout jump out of the still water, unable to contain their excitement.
Then suddenly the sky displays an explosion of color: tangerine, salmon, canary yellow, brighter, and brighter with every second. We are transported to a dreamlike place where a painter gently swishes her brush back and forth on the immense backdrop, to the left and right, repeating with grace of an orchestra leader. Artwork in the sky. Can a presentation of the sun slipping behind the cottony clouds be so spectacular? The sun knows it is time for the moon to shine.
I remember our conversation, effort to calm emotions, phone glued to ear like a natural extension. Her voice, exhausted… “When will this be over?” She asked Dad days later, more like a plea. He could be gentle or travel the path of honesty. I don’t know the words he pulled from his language of a sixty-seven-year love…how he tiptoed through the reply,though tenderly,I imagine, since his heart was shattering into millions of minute fragments. Her time was close. Our awareness vigilant. Each day, another breath held until the hands of timewould pause. Then as quickly as the sun fades behind rolling hills, raindrops splash upon us. She had ascended. Moments of memories to follow. But not one day passes without celebratingher life. Not one day slips by without her knowing how much she is loved and missed.
Lauren Scott (c) Mom would be 101 today, and since she loved her roses, we dedicate this beauty for her. ❤️
Sometimes, we find ourselves walking in the wrong directionat a good clip, so preoccupied thatthe gapin the pavementtrips us, tumbling us in. Darkness seizes. Uncertaintyand fearjoin in the huddle.Our bodies paralyzed by fear’s powerful grasp.But thoughts penetrate in the depths of our minds, how strength has always been a constant in our lives where weakness only an acquaintance. So, with great mental bandwidth, our fingers grip eachlittle crevice of gloom like a seasoned rock climber. We move, inching upward, finding ourway out as darknessbegins to dim,andrays from the biggolden ball in the sky warm our shoulders. We revel in our accomplishment, never again underestimating our capabilities, as we joyfully hold the future in our hands.
Enjoy your weekend, Feel empowered, and a Big Thanks to all of you for reading, liking, and commenting throughout the years. Lauren Scott (c) ❤️ Strength photo: Google