Monday, November 28, 2011

The Color of Eons

In the vastest of the eastern landscape,
A ball of orange rises
Bathing sands of time in its brilliant hue.

Where Egyptian pharaohs
With their ladies danced
Building monuments that far outlived them.

Camels walk, where brave men venture
Religions as old as the ground they tread
Shifting sands with unaltered beliefs.

Time rolls across the dunes
Altering life and destinations
Buried stories, deep beneath its crust.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Stand in Time

            The gnarled ancient oak sits leaning into the river bank covered in a heavy crust of moss.  Holes peppered it's bark from years of worms, woodpeckers and carpenter ants.  Limbs bent and twisted, reaching to dip over the cool crisp runoff from the mountains surrounding the placid lake.  A slight breeze teases the leaves but is not enough to stir the branches.  The majestic tree has lined this shore for years, watching life progress at a steady, sedate pace.  Boats carrying passengers of all ages and nationalities passed this shoreline bringing settlers to the surrounding area.  Homes dot the landscape clinging precariously to the mountain side, blending into the landscape beside aspen and evergreen.  Once there were only a scattering of log cabins hidden deep within the peaks.  Now rustic contemporary homes surrounded by wrapped porches gaze out over lush foliage admiring the visage of the ranges weaving through the countryside. 
            Seasons change the views as Spring growth, moves to the heaviness of Summer, the beauty of Autumn flora and white of the Winter. Cubs alight from the dens of their mothers as the cycle of life renews.  Nests are built for both squirrels and birds high above the ground where predators lurk.  Puma teach their young to forage while rabbit and otter instruct theirs to evade.  A lone eagle circles above peering down at the bighorn sheep scaling the shale, negotiating the precipices of rock it calls home.
            I too walk these paths, venturing into wilds, climbing rock, stretching muscles and mind as each focus on their tasks.  The air is raw with the chill of the approaching changes of winters arrival.  Autumn graces the leaves that crunch beneath my feet, mixed in with the cushion of pine needles.  Century old aspen are bare, dead from the bore beetles that have destroyed acres of these stately timber.  Blue laces through the tan of the wood, marbling like an artists watercolor.  It will take years to clean the forests of the dead wood to allow nature to replenish.  Controlled burns will need to happen to achieve the renewal of life.  I run my hand over one such beauty, with the white smooth bark standing tall beside me with its leaves of brown.  Newer growth, not damaged, is dressed in an array of yellows and reds in bright contrast to the brown. 
            Life must change.  Nature evolves taking with it the strong as well as the weak.  Trees like the oak leaning, dipping into the lake withstand while others as old and proud whither from natural selection.  I too will eventually whither and die like the aspen, replaced and replenished as settlers have been over the changes of the seasons.  It is only right.  While I can enjoy, embrace, value what surrounds me, I will.  I will not grieve but rejoice over the sapling I notice clinging and in the fortitude of my old friend as he stands against the lake, bearing testimony to the ages.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The World Turned Upside Down

        I don’t want to say that I live in a bizarre world but you see I reside in a town called Topsy Turvy in the country of Before. My name is Todd and I live on a small farm with my parents and my grandfather. I go to school and am proud to be at the bottom of my class.  I reside in a small town with just a few neighbors way back in the country of Before.  In my small town we do things a bit different than most. You see, when we plant corn, it grows underground. We have to pull it up with corn pickers when it is time to harvest. The carrots grow above ground and the watermelons are red on the outside and green on the inside. All of the people in our little town walk on their hands and when they meet on the street, they shake feet. Even our babies scoot on their backs rather than crawl on their knees. Our faucets point up and our drinking fountains down. Our school desks are on the ceilings, which of course makes seeing that much better since the lights are there.
On this wonderfully rainy morning, I stopped by the butchers on my way to school to give my mother’s shopping list to Mr. Fritz.
“Hello Todd.  On your way to school I see,” greeted Mr. Fritz as he stood at the counter loading it with fresh bacon.  “Is that your mother’s list for me?”
“Yes sir.  Mom will be by later after she finishes making the pineapple right-side-up cake for the county bake sale.”
As I was about to leave, gabby Mrs. Gray walked in snooping for gossip.
            “Bottom of the morning to you, Mrs. Gray. I do hope you’re husband is doing well.” The butcher greeted Mrs. Gray as she entered his shop.
            “Oh my yes, Mr. Fritz. He is under the weather, isn’t it grand! I do hope that you have a fine top roast this morning. Mr. Gray does enjoy top roast with his potatoes.”
            “Indeed we do. A fine bottom round steak too I might add.” With that, the butcher proceeded to package her meat for her.
            “I hear tell that the new schoolmarm will arrive today. I can’t wait to see her. They tell me she comes from a school out East.  I’ve heard that they are a bit odd out there.”
            With a wave of my foot to both, I headed out the door.  I was all a flitter this morning.  A new schoolteacher was coming, how grand!  When I arrived at school, I stopped to talk to Burt the town painter. He was busy applying a coat of green to the schoolhouse door. Carefully starting at the bottom, he smoothly stroked the brush straight up holding the paintbrush between his toes of his left foot, reaching the top and then starting over at the bottom. He put his brush in the paint can and waved his right foot in greeting.
            “How are you today on this fine rainy day, Master Todd?” Burt was a friendly man, especially when his painting went well. “I had to wait two weeks for the sun to go away so that I could paint this door. Can’t have the paint drying on me as I put it on you know. Are you looking forward to seeing the new teacher today?”
            “Oh definitely sir. This will be the first outsider that we have had in our town in many years. I hope she isn’t too different.” I wasn’t sure about having someone outside of Topsy Turvy teach us. I was happy the way things had been for many a day.
            Mr. Martin came by on his way to the station. The town council delegated him to pick up the teacher and bring her to the school. He was wearing his favorite polka dot bow tie and his red leather gloves. He had an umbrella in his pant leg so that the new teacher would not get wet on her way to the schoolhouse. “Please ring the gong at half past eight so that the children will all be in their seats to greet the new teacher when she gets here.”  He waved his foot as he proceeded in a hurry to the depot.
            So, I rang the gong with my left foot at half past eight and went into the room to take a seat. I had my book opened upside down and my legs crossed. The minute hands seemed to creep as we sat waiting for the new teacher to show. Oh, what was taking so long? 
            Suddenly the door flew open and what to our surprise a lady dressed in a yellow floral dress walked into the room on her feet rather that on her hands. She looked about the room with a puzzled look on her face. 
            “Why are you children sitting on the ceiling and why are your books upside down? You can’t read or write with your books that way,” she stated as she opened her large black bag and pulled out a book entitled The World and its Cultures. 
            We all sat and stared at this strange woman and wondered how smart she could be if she didn’t sit on the ceiling where the light was the best and she wasted her toes by walking on them and shoving them in stiff looking gloves of some sort. Why this truly must be a joke!
            “Oh this will not do. Please bring your desks to the floor and turn your books around this instant. What a strange town I have landed in for sure,” she stated as she walked over to the chalkboard.
            “My name is Miss Penelope Proper and I like history. Today we will discuss my town of Nowville. In Nowville we never walk on our hands unless we are being silly. Our corn grows tall and straight where we can reach out a pick it when it is ripe. Our carrots grow in the dirt where they grow sweet and crisp. Our watermelon is red fruited with green skins. Most of all we have green grass not blue and our sky is blue and not green! We love the sun and tolerate the rain. I have been all over the world and I have never seen a country like Before.”
            The smaller children began to cry and the boys just shook their heads. Wait until the parents heard about all this. Why they never heard such nonsense!
            At lunch, the children ran home as fast as their hands would let them. I told my mother about the strange teacher and grandpa was reading his paper upside down, grumbling about what the world was coming too. Dad came in after he heard the news saying that the whole town was abuzz about the lady who walked on her feet.
            “Well I won’t have it mother. Teaching our children that the sky is blue. Who ever heard such a thing! Why my dad and his before him have been growing corn in the ground and Mayor Shouldhave’s father invented the corn picker. I say we keep the children home from school."
            That evening the folks of Topsy Truvey gathered in the town hall to discuss the new teacher.  Mr. Hasbeen stood up first on his creaky old arms that wobbled as he paced in front of the hall. “Why I saw a book that she was reading at the train depot. It was about Customs in other parts of the world. What makes her think that the other towns are right and we are wrong? How dare her criticize five generations of Before’s. Just because she has the right to her opinions doesn’t make her opinions right!”
            “I agree with Mr. Hasbeen and I second his statements,” stated Burt. “She told me that I should wait until the sun was out to paint and that I should start at the top and work my way down. How dare her! I have been painting all of my life and she comes into town and tells me how to do my job.” Burt stomped down and up the handway in the center of the hall. “I’m so mad I could put my foot through a door!”
            “Well I say we pay her and send her on her way before she puts crazy notions into our kids heads,” stated Mrs. Martin. “Why I saw my granddaughter trying to walk on her feet today and nearly fell on her head. What will she teach them next? She is a bad influence she is!”
            So it was voted on that night that Miss Penelope would have to take her new fangled ways and leave. After all, the last thing they needed was her to disturb and disrupt their quiet little town Turvey Topsy. The next thing you know, she would try to turn their world downside up!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Autumn's Expectation

Eggs whites strew across the evening sky, anticipating rain
Brown fluff interspersed with white, folding across the horizon
Hints of orange ribbon bleeding through the gaps of blue
Grey smudged along the edges, like a painter’s afterthought

Cool breeze caressing my hair like a lover
Finger combing it off my shoulder to expose my neck
Leprechauns leap beneath leaves dancing across my path
Faerie torches speckling darkness like dots before my eyes

I walk in solitude drinking in the smells of autumn
Fall approaches me like a forgotten friend
First hints of raindrops kiss my eyelids
I raise my face gladly welcoming her bequest

Summer is put to bed; contained deep within earth’s bosom
Nestled inside the heartbeat of yesterdays blessings
Tomorrow is soon enough to wear my mittens
Today I want to dance freely to the melody of change