Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day.. pause to remember...


Its Memorial Day weekend. When you pass a cemetery today and noticed those flags waiving in the breeze?Think of it as those who are waving at you to enjoy your trip and in the quiet of the evening to say a prayer of thanks. Day is done, Gone the sun... but their spirits remain. Thank you Veterans for all you do, all you did, and my chance to make it right tomorrow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

As Mothers....

We are the gatekeepers to all that is holy. The first card with that strained effort to control the crayon as it traced the hand upon paper to every report card, gift to the tooth fairy, and of course those heart to heart talks about why so and so doesn't like me. We touched our children's lives by giving them a piece of our hearts and letting them explore.

I'm writing this today because of a bit of nostalgia that came and went yesterday. Somewhere in the late 1970's we bought a huge chest type freezer from Monkey Wards. Those of you who like me, are as old as dirt understand that I am talking about Montgomery Wards. Those of you younger think a rival of Sears or Target. So for 40 some years this freezer kept summer vegetables saved for winter feast. It kept our frozen pop-cycles on hand for reducing fever. When we had our fill of Halloween or Easter candy it would keep those containers out of sight - out of mind until we were ready to eat them again and laugh over the costumes. Well, long story short, the freezer died.

So armed with winter gloves and jackets, we pulled the trashcans in the garage and began to unload it. Cherries labeled 1991, tossed. Turkey sausage when we tried a new diet. Yeah, that didn't work either. Frozen pumpkin left over from 1998's Christmas pie extravaganza. It made a unique thump. And there, tucked away under the jalapeno peppers, he sat. Still preserved in his Walmart plastic bag, a treasured friend from 1991.



My children were four, seven and eleven and it was the last time they took an interest in snowmen. Oh,it wasn't the best of snowfalls. More ice than fluffy wet snow but here in the south it was white, frozen, and earned them a day off of school.
So out there in the wet, the rolled three balls of various size. Each child took the portion they were most cut out for. The smallest did the head, middle son the body and older daughter the base. Someone broke some pine twigs for limbs, and dug down in the driveway to get stones for eyes, nose, and a mouth. He was christened Buddy Holiday.

Buddy stayed out all night but the next day temps warmed and they became alarmed that Buddy would be like Frosty and dance away. Plotting at the kitchen table over supper, they came up with the idea to place what was left of Buddy in the chest freezer. Over the years, they'd run to the freezer, open the lid, and call out the weather to their cold hearted friend. They planned calendars. Threatened to bring him out on those horrid hot, humid, days in August or even let him celebrate the Fourth of July with sparklers.



But, as the years went by, they forgot about Buddy or brought him up only sparingly. My children are now 24, 27, and nearing 31. However when I picked up the phone and called them to ask what do they think I found, the first thing out of their mouth was Buddy Holiday. You could hear them revert to their younger self. The laughter in their voice, the awe that a mother would allow a snowman to live inside their freezer. And for one last time, they were again my babies.

I put Buddy Holiday on my well and watched him begin to slowly vanish. They called and begged me to take pictures and send to them. Which of course a proud mother did. As the sun sank in the west and night fell softly, we went inside to give Buddy his privacy.

My daughter showed her son the picture and he asked why a snowman was in his Nana's yard in May. She told him the story. Someday, there will be another fine snow and she will make a snowman with her children. If they are lucky, they'll talk her into putting their frozen creation into the freezer. And in the dark of the night, when I am no longer here, they'll laugh and smile remembering what fun we had when snow fell in the south and a snowman was born.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring has finally setting in to Virginia

After weeks of Mother Nature wavering between the return of winter and full blown summer, she has settled into a soft pattern that has laid lawns and fields in sparkling emerald green. I think it must have been the color that has inspired my new short story, Luck of the Irish.

So today I'm introducing my story to my blog readers. I hope you will enjoy it. If you haven't joined my newsletter group, please do they will be getting the newest chapter next week sometime.

For all those mothers, old and new, Happy Mother's Day.

Luck of the Irish

© Nancy O'Berry 2011


Maeve pulled the rough wool shawl across her shoulders and cast a cautionary glance to make sure the McKenna boys hadn't stirred from their quilted wrapped cocoons. She placed her hand against the wood of the door jam and pulled it open just enough to slip her slender frame through. In the dark of the night the soft sounds of the Dakota wind whispering through the small grove of trees near the house brought her comfort. From the darkness an old dog arose and fell in behind her footsteps as she moved toward the smokehouse. Bending down, she opened the door and felt a cold nose press against her forearm.

"Sh," she whispered to the hound. Reaching inside, she pulled a gray rucksack from the floor. Then, dropping to one knee she stroked the silken ears of the animal and looked into the warm brown eyes. "Now Odin, you'll be a good dog and stay here."
The dog's head tilted and thumped its tail upon the ground, before resting its paw upon her knee Maeve smiled. "No, you'll stay and keep them thugs that's called me brothers from following me," she whispered in a deep throaty bough reminiscent of her ancestors from County Cork.

The animal turned his head to listen, then whimpered in response.

"Here now, I'll be safe." She rose, with one gentler stroke, and headed toward the path that wound through the trees along the creek to the Master's ranch. If the McKenna luck held, she'd be back by early morn and none of her brother's the wiser. Her soft leather moccasins made no sound. The sliver of silver moonlight her guide as she broke free of the tree line and skipped across the rocks that formed a natural bridge to the other side of the pasture. Maeve lifted the plain brown of her skirts and felt the brush of the grasses against her limbs.

Those cursed grasses were what brought her to Master's meadow in the dead of night, an uninvited guest to be sure. At the fence she stood and glazed at the top of the hill and wondered if it was still there. Her hands grasped the wood of the rail and she stared. They'd come to this country with all the hope and promise of streets lined with gold. Instead, they'd found the same hatred and bigotry that lived in Ireland. Only here the cruelty was match with words that said "No Irish wanted".

But, they survived. Moving west, saving what they could to put down roots in this land, hoping against hope that for once, they might succeed. Determination lined her face as she crawled through the space and yanked her sack against her. She had to go on. Higher and higher she climbed, the damp of the night's dew soaking the hem of her clothing, but not deterring her footsteps. As she reached the top of the rise, Maeve paused, her heart racing. The breeze rustled the grasses exposing a ring exposing a ring of dark stones.

Hands trembling, she put down the sack and walked to each stone pushing back the grass, to trace the image of the white crosses glimmering in the moonlight. Fairy stones! Perhaps there was still a chance. A chance to turn their luck in the right way!

Rushing back to the sack, her fingers trembling, she drew back the rope and shook out the contents. Sorting through, she rescued the leather bound book and flipped through the pages of her gran's diary to the place marked with the single red ribbon. "An untouched maid, who dances her way among the fairy stones, may break the spell upon what unhappiness dwells and bring good luck to all." Maeve glanced around the field, and then looked to the candles. This was her chance, the courage of three generations of McKenna seekers coursed through her veins. The skin along her arms pricked. There was no turning back, not now, not ever. The curse must be broken.

Happy Reading,

Nancy
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