Snow Story – Friday Fictioneers 16 February 2018

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Snow Story

“Shriek! Squeal!! Look! Mum!!”

“It’s snowed!” Sadie’s excited high pitched voice was soaked up and dampened by the effect of the snow as she danced on the spot under the porch.

“I want to be the first to make footprints!” she squealed, dashing back indoors to grab her wellies.

It rarely snowed where she lived and she’d prayed for weeks on end for a snowfall before winter disappeared again.

Unbeknownst to her, Garby loved snow too and was equally intent on investigating the white stuff.

As she opened the door, Garby came charging out, his paws christening the snow!

“Garby!!”

Friday Fictioneers

Weekend: Poetry Pot Luck

Task: So: this weekend, share with us a poem that you love (by someone who isn’t you, please). You can quote a particularly striking line (or two) in a new message in the Commons, or drop a link to the whole piece. Most importantly: tell us, in a sentence or two, what about it moves you.

This poem has followed me since my schooldays. I love sheep, chickens and cows. They ooze calmness and serenity and most of the time sheer contentment. Being ‘present’, ‘in the moment’ with these animals, which is how they live, rubs off on me almost instantly.

And yes, I am well practiced in communicating with them moooo!

Enjoy …

Cows, by James Reeves

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Nice weather,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,” said the white.
“Grass is very tasty.”
“Grass is all right.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Rain coming,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,” said the white.
“Flies is very tiresome.”
“Flies bite.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

“Time to go,” said the brown cow.
“Ah,”’ said the white.
“Nice chat,” “Very pleasant.”
“Night.””Night.”

Half the time they munched the grass, and all the time they lay
Down in the water-meadows, the lazy month of May,
A-chewing,
A-mooing,
To pass the hours away.

Damned Differentiation

Three pages to complete one sum to you and me.

I wasn’t that bad at maths but differentiation?… I could not make any sense of it. It took up half the school exercise book and usually ended up at least 3 pages to answer just one question.

Now if someone had told me why we would use such a confusion calculation I may have taken more interest. I have a vague recollection of someone telling me that I could use it in mechanical engineering.

But at the time, I hated it. I feared it.

The O’Level examinations were looming fast and I just couldn’t get anywhere with grasping my understanding of it.

We were regularly sitting mock tests and I was expected to pass the exam. I can remember being told not to worry about it as the previous year they had a paper on the dreaded subject so we wouldn’t be getting it again that year.

Haha. No kidding. You’ve guessed it!

We had one full paper totally on the dddreaded dddifferentiation. And guess what?

Yep. I failed!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”

JOURNEY – Physical and Emotional with a Profound Effect

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”

When I was child of about 3, we lived in a tiny village that had only one shop. It seemed miles from anywhere but my cousin, she lived just around the corner and around the next bend on the same country lane lived Grandma and Grandad. For some reason I wasn’t over keen on Grandad, but I adored my Grandma. She was such a loving person and I really enjoyed being with her. I was allowed to ride my tricycle along the pavement, all on my own to visit them.

It was a delightful place to live, surrounded by wildlife, farms and an abundance of greenery. We took regular walks thoroughly indulging in the effect of the changing seasons. To this day I have a similar passion for nature, the countryside and the seasons.

We would watch the butterflies dance from flower to flower, noting which one it was and if we weren’t sure, we’d look it up in a book when we returned home. We’d breathe in the scents of the blossoms on the hedgerows, trees and the wild flowers in the grass verges. I was renowned for sticking my nose into flowers.

There was always something riveting to watch or exciting to explore. Many of the fields roundabout had small ponds in them. Here we would sit for hours just watching the dragonflies dance from reed to reed, or watch the pond skater insects whizzing over the water’s surface or catch newts with our nets, putting them into a jar so that we could get a better look at them. We would always put them back into the pond before going home. Other times we would keep a watch out for calves or lambs being born, watch the farmer plough a field or bale hay.

Big cousins would come to visit quite regularly, cycling all the way from their village miles away and we would ride our bikes or play ball games and drink cordial, something that was only available when visitors came. We were rarely indoors and my selective memory can only recall rain in April, though we must have had days when it poured.

Then one day, which for me seemed quite out of the blue, we were moving. A giant green lorry with a cavernous space at the back was taking all our belongings and we were going to live somewhere else. I can only remember horror. All the things I would be leaving behind. My Grandma would be miles away, how I would miss my dear loving Grandma. And my cousins, I would have no friends to play with.

When we arrived at our new house, it was on a straight main road and it felt as if it were on another continent. Being a new house it didn’t have the old established gardens around it so it felt barren. The whole place felt empty, the whole area felt empty. Where was the greenery?

There was a big hedge over on the other side of the road and there were some big trees but the cosseted feeling of the old village which just oozed greenery, was non-existent in this strange place.

I was told not to make a fuss, I would make friends. There was a girl next door that I was encouraged to play with, but a part of me didn’t like the feel of her. I started school and began to make some friends but somehow they never felt like the deep comradeship I had had with my cousins. My only saving grace from living in that very empty feeling place was that at the weekends my dad and I would go for long walks along the riverbank or the canal and we would observe all the bounty that nature had to offer. Those days were like heaven on earth.

One of the things that sticks in my mind was the feeling of isolation, I felt as if I was ‘out on my own’ and despite having moved from a verdant green village, I felt separated most strongly from my beloved sea. Now we didn’t live by the sea but we were probably only a couple of miles from the sea as the crow flies and less than an hour away by train in those days and whilst I have no recollection of being at the seaside when the sun went down, I can clearly remember sitting in my bedroom with my head poking through the curtains, watching the sun going down behind the hedgerow across the road and wondering just how many miles away the sea was and how I yearned to be near it. This has stayed with me ever since and must have had such a profound effect on me that I now live right by the sea and would have it no other way.

Writing 101 DAY 19 – Don’t Stop the Rockin’ – A Little Bit of Me

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.

Writing. A writer. Just testing out the feel of the words. I always wanted to write. No, I actually ‘fancied’ being a writer. When I was much younger I used to write things down. I was always making up poems or songs. Then one day I experienced a much larger bout of criticism from my mother. I stopped writing. One day after much frustration I decided I did want to write down the things that were flying through my head. So I got a piece of chalk and in my old toy cupboard was a small wooden piano. On the back of the piano I unscrewed the three legs and on the area left available to me I wrote in chalk all the words from my head. Now I did have to keep rubbing it out to make room for the next inflow of words. This was safe. I could write all I wanted and she would never know what I had written. Thing was, neither did I. I would love to have had a book of all the things I used to write about.

Later on in life I began following correspondence courses in writing and using it as a way to deal with childhood stuff. But again I came up against criticism. What I wrote wasn’t really marketable. Too off the wall. I fancied being a journalist at one point and began teaching myself shorthand. But when I was told I needed to embellish the story I went right off the idea. I wanted to relate fact not fiction. It seemed wrong to be leading people to believe something was different to how it ‘actually’ was.

Years later I came back to writing verse. I had been ill and was in a recovery group working through the same stuff, childhood. As each person left the group I would have a verse in my head that was poignant for them. So I would write it on a card and give it to them as a leaving gift.

When I have written things about my life, thoughts, etc, I have found it quite liberating. It seems to disengage a part of my mind that needs to be in control. As that gets out of the way, it leaves room for all sorts of philosophical stuff to ooze out. It also can connect me to another realm, a place where everything just is, a state of beingness. So if that’s the case, I ask myself why the hell is it still so difficult to sit down begin. Begin. Anagram of Being. There must be something in this.

Writing 101 DAY 18 – Hone Your Point of View – Charlie’s World

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

I wonder, what am I going to do today? Pete’s gone to watch football with his dad. I hate football. All that running around, and what for, nothing. I don’t mind running around in a field of grass chasing dragonflies, now that’s fun.

“Ouch! Damn scabs!”

I thought they’d have fallen off by now; it’s over a week since I crashed my bike on Back Lane and got half the road stuck in my skin. Mrs Pauley told me not to pick it when she walked past yesterday. Said it would leave holes. Can’t see no holes.

“Ouch!”

She’s nice, Mrs Pauley, lets me cut her grass in the summer for some extra pocket money. Said I did a nice job, as good as old Mr Pauley. Liked him too, was always tinkering in his shed. Mending something or oiling something else. He showed me how to grease me bike chain. Right nice he was. Shame he died. Feels kind of dead around here now and Mrs Pauley looks so sad.

Wonder where all the kids she had are? Mum said she’d got six of them and hasn’t seen them in years.

Suppose I’d better go and do what mum said – ‘go and see if there’s anything she needs help with’.

Ah well, going to have to find some other way of subbing my pocket money. Mum says Mrs Pauley’s had no money since Mr Pauley died. Wonder what she’s been having to eat then?

Charlie wanders across the road, hands thrust deep into the pockets of his long shorts.

The grass is looking a bit longer, than yesterday, must’ve warmed up and made it grow quicker. That’s what Mr Pauley used to say.

As he was waiting for Mrs Pauley to answer the door, a car pulled up and a man got out wearing crumpled brown suit.

Who’s he, doesn’t look very friendly. Aye aye, and now plod. What do they want down here? You never see them down here with their black uniforms. Don’t want to either they look like they’re looking for trouble.

“Now then son, off you go, on your way. You shouldn’t be hanging around other peoples doors.”

At that moment the door opened and Mrs Pauley, seeing Charlie, smiled at the boy and said,

“Hello Charlie, were you coming to see me love?”

Phew thought old plod was going to arrest me then. They make me feel bad even when I haven’t done anything.

“I said on your way son.”

“I’ve got to leave Charlie. Maybe the next person who lives here will need you to cut the grass for them.”

Leaving? To go where? She’s always been here.
And why are they here, where are they taking her?
Are you alright Mrs Pauley, I can go and get me mum if you want me to.

“It’s alright Charlie, I’ll be alright. Always remember love that when one door closes you can be sure that another one always opens.”

Writing 101 DAY 13 – Serially Found – My Dad is Back

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

There were moments over the next 20 years when I glimpsed the dad I adored as a young child. Moments when shared interests collided with a time created opportunity.

He was always helping someone else. But on occasion I would tag along. I got involved in building a shed for a friend of his, a greenhouse for an uncle, church hall renovations and the one I loved most – helping out, with my dad, on the veg stall at the Annual Christmas Fair. I can smell the old wooden hall now, just thinking about it. A smell of old dry, warm wood, mingled with a hint of musty old fabric.

Funny how those old wooden buildings had such a nurturing atmosphere. The original wooden building has now been replaced with a brick one and fewer people use it. Where I live now, we still have an ancient wooden village hall; they call it a community hall here. It smells very similar to the ones of childhood. Everyone appreciates it and its unique aromas create an ambiance that seems to attract a list of regular events going on there.

Other times I would help with watering the plants. This meant filling up a large bucket and a metal watering can with water from the kitchen sink tap and staggering down the garden one in each hand, trying not to spill any. He used to do this twice a day in the summer months.

If there was a drought we would save all the washing up water and whenever anyone had a bath, we had to scoop out as much water as possible to water to fill the buckets and stagger gingerly down the stairs, through the house and down the garden path to water the thirsty plants.

I learned how to take cuttings, dibble out young seedlings and look after the growing crops. These moments of joy, cherished memories, I have come to appreciate more as I have shared them with my own son.

But it took over 20 years before I felt the unconditional love of my dad again.

It took the death of my mother.

I never got on with her, she was a narcissist through and through. It wasn’t long after she died that my dad seemed more open – as if a barrier had been removed, or a veil been lifted.

I could see him, really see him again. I could feel love pour from him. Even his eyes were more alive. He was much more fun and loved to play with my young son. His sense of humour was priceless.

Up until then I had not realised just how much my mother’s presence had supressed my dad. She was so devious and manipulating he must have been under an immense pressure most of the time. No wonder he spent his spare time down the garden, out of sight, involved in an important project or helping out other folk. He missed her of course. Who wouldn’t, they had been together over 30 years.

But the change in my dad was remarkable. We spent more time together, he shared memories of his past, little snippets of his life I wasn’t aware existed before. He actively encouraged family get-togethers, times when we all reminisced indulgently.

As I watched his loving actions and sense of fun during the times spent with my son, it triggered the odd happy memory of early childhood. This was the dad that had been missing all these years and I indulged in the joy of having my dad back again, for now, and being able to share him with my son.

Writing 101 Day 11 – Size Matters – My Garden Home

Today’s Prompt: Where did you live when you were 12 years old? Which town, city, and country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

When I was 12 years old we lived on a quiet country lane, in a typically English 1940s accrington brick faced semi with rectangular bay windows and a red tiled roof. It was set in a quarter of an acre of delightful garden.

The people who had lived there before us were an artist and his wife. He had painted the back of the old wooden garage pale pink and emblazoned right in the middle of it, a witch, all in black, on a broomstick flying among the stars. Oh how I wished that I could do that. I used to throw myself off the garage roof in an attempt to fly and had been making these attempts for as long as I could remember, but I was getting a bit bigger and landing wasn’t quite as trouble free as it had been.

My grandma, who had lived with us since I was about 8 years old, one day caught me launching myself off the stairs (in my indoor attempts at flying) and had given me a severe ear bashing about how bad my knees would be when I got older.

The artist had also designed the garden with an intriguing shrubbery and a quaint latch gate within it, which took you down to another part of the garden via a fish pond and a weeping willow. I loved it. I could escape the rest of the family and hide up a tree in the remains of an orchard at the very bottom of the garden.

My father was a keen gardener. Well actually, he was more obsessive than keen. When we moved in he dug up the whole far back garden, which was a beautifully designed miniature golf course, rolled it flat and reseeded half of it as a flat, boring lawn.

The other half was dug over for vegetables, a greenhouse and a cold frame. We had all sort of vegetables and fruits. My favourite was the garden pea. Delicious, straight from the plant. Only thing was we, that is my brother and I, were forbidden to pick any.

Needless to say that was the worst thing you could say to us! My brother was caught hiding the evidential shell under the plants. Me on the other hand had a few years more experience than him and had learned only to take a few, too many and my dad would notice, and bury the shells deep in the grass of the field next door.

I always preferred to help my dad in the garden rather than my mother in the housed. It was far more interesting outside with nature, the wildlife and the elements.

Writing 101 Day 10 – Happy Wednesdays with Grandma

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

Instantly I read today’s challenge, 2 dishes leapt to mind. The first was Lancashire Hot Pot, made by my loving grandma. But a much simpler dish that brought back more than just the feelings and the smells but almost the whole room. As I noticed this, it became pretty apparent which was my most favourite meal as a child, poached egg and chips.

Grandma would bring out the low table from the front room. I can picture it now … it seemed so big, like about four feet long and over a foot wide. It stood about eighteen inches high on its slanted black turned legs and had a brass disc on each foot. I remember the legs screwed in at each of its four corners, I got told off one day for dismantling it. I chuckled at the thought.

The top had rounded corners, was covered in cold, clean glass under which was a painting of red roses. It was all edged in a black band which if it moved too quickly stopped my plate from landing on the floor.

She would place it on the bright red patterned carpet, wedged close up to the luxuriously thick red hearth rug and close to the open fire so I could keep warm. The fireplace was a creamy beige colour, small chips and cracks on the hearth from years of dropping things on it. At one side, an almost full coal bucket, distinctly battered and black from years of use. On the side other a small dull copper pot the size of a small mug, filled to bursting with paper spills. I loved to help make them – bits of rolled up newspaper slightly longer than a pencil with a twist on the end. These were used to light the fire in the morning save burning fingers with short matches. They were also a carryover from the time when Grandad was alive, he used to light his Senior Service cigarettes with them. On the mantelpiece an array of brass ornaments propping up notes, or opened letters. Apart from the old wooden carved clock ticking soothingly on the wall behind me, all I could hear was the pfut, pfut of the small flames as they flickered and the occasional crack or ting of the burning coals and rubbish she had recently thrown on the fire. I could always lose myself in that fire, it fascinated me.

I was always brought back from my reverie with strange creak of the door opening. A deep red- coloured velvet curtain hung on the sitting room side of the door, suspended with a strange contraption of angled metal rods. As the door was opened the curtain lifted slightly, preventing being dragged under the door as it opened, pure genius, could do with one of those now. In wafted the smell of homemade chips, delicious. Ooh my mind shot to the kitchen, gosh I can remember that in detail too. “There you go,” she would say in a loving way, “that’ll make you grow big and strong.”

Beautifully crisp chips and fluffy insides, cooked on a gas stove in a pan two inches deep in lard, a real treat. Chips were a rarity in our household but if I visited Grandma on a Wednesday, this was what she always treated me to. And, I was allowed an egg. I wasn’t allowed an egg at home because I point blank refused to eat the white. I just couldn’t stand the taste nor the texture, it just used to make me gag. So I was not allowed eggs at home, but Grandma allowed me to leave the egg white. I would pull my little basket chair up to the table, pick up the big knife and fork, stab a chip with my fork, cut it in half to let the steam out and create a better surface for the yummy yolk to stick to. I loved its creamy runniness, dipping the chip into it and savouring every mouthful.

Hhmm think I might just treat myself one day to some ‘proper’ chips.

Writing 101 DAY 4 – Serially Lost

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

‘Serially Lost’ immediately conjured up many images, a flow of them in fact. How appropriate the words. Over the years I have lost so much during my life that the pain and suffering opening me to an eternal journey of self-exploration and one which has become a way of life now. Ever exploring, ever expanding and thankfully experiencing the pain of loss less and less.

I have lost numerous people and animals in my life from a mere parting of the ways to their passing from this world of form. I have lost games, races, possession and I have on many occasions ‘lost face’!

But one that sticks in my mind that I would like to share is the loss of my father. In fact, I lost him 3 times, there was a fourth but that is way too complex a story. Here is the first experience I can remember.

In my early years I had a loving, caring and fun relationship with my father. I have snippets of memory where we spent quality time enjoying each other’s company, playing games and laughing. He was a keen gardener and I enjoyed ‘helping’ in my own way with watering the plants, particularly the tomatoes in the greenhouse. Just thinking about it I can link with the balmy warmth of the heat contained in the tiny space and smell the intensity of aromas emitted from the tomato plants.

“Be careful” he would say. “Mind your dress on those leaves, if you brush against them all the green will come off your dress and mummy will have to wash it.”

I don’t remember liking mummy very much.

After a couple of years my father’s work took him away from home during the week and I felt such loss and abandonment. I pined for his return. We eventually moved to the area where he worked and joy returned to my life, at least for a short while. But then my grandfather, my mother’s father, became ill with lung cancer and it rocked the whole family’s world.

My brother had arrived on the scene and my mother had long since lost interest in me. I experienced life as if I was an old doll, dated, no longer desired. A new replacement had come along and all attention was on the new addition. I felt like I was just a nuisance and I began to withdraw further into myself.

My grandfather’s illness also rocked my father. He smoked the odd cigarette but he immediately stopped smoking. He drank the odd ½ pint of bitter when he and his brother went to the occasional football match together. He became tee-total. He also became fanatically religious and devoted himself to his religion. He read the bible and lectured us all on its morals and teachings. I became judged and punished. I was forced to attend Sunday school every Sunday, no long able to wander hand in hand with a loving caring, sharing father, along the riverbank on Sunday afternoon indulging in nature’s beauty, appreciating the seasons.

My father was gone from me and it rocked my world.