Thursday, December 22, 2022

Finding and Feeling the Christmas Spirit

Finding and Feeling the Christmas Spirit
Darrel L. Hammon
December 22, 2022

It’s three days before Christmas, and there is a chill in the air, snow on the ground with a potential of snow next week after Christmas, and our tree has been up and decorated since just after Thanksgiving.

 This past week I visited with someone who told me that they did not feel the Christmas spirit and asked how they could feel it. For me, the Christmas spirit has come in a variety of ways. I can say, though, that some years, it was more challenging to feel the Christmas spirit, but it came in some way.

Let me suggest five ways although there are so many, many more. Some of them may help you as you ponder Christmas to ultimately find and feel the Christmas spirit.

Think of others before you think of yourself.
Isn’t Christmas about giving and being with others? I have noticed that people like themselves a lot, spending time just being on the phones and in their rooms alone, not necessarily wanting to associate with other people. While I understand that feeling to some degree, I sincerely believe that to capture the Christmas spirit, we must climb out of our shells a bit, maybe more than a bit, and think of others, maybe take your family, friends, and/or neighbors something. Giving isn’t always about buying or making something, although that is a nice thing to do. It’s about the very act of going beyond and extending yourselves in ways that you do not normally do and then continuing that practice for the rest of the year.

Go out and play in the snow.
This is a challenging one for those of you who live in places where there is no snow. For me, I grew up in eastern Idaho, and, more often than not, we had lots of snow, usually new snow on Christmas morning. My Christmas spirit comes when I walk out to fresh snow in the yard or the field, plop down, and make a snow angel. As I get older, it becomes increasingly more challenging, trying to get up without ruining the angel, but if you do it right, you can look back at the perfect snow angel and remember the heavenly host singing songs of joy when Christ was born in Bethlehem. If you don’t have snow, you cannot look at pictures that have snow in them or even paint a snowy scene.

 Sit in front of the Christmas tree, contemplate each ornament, and think of what each one means to you.
I love doing this. We really do not have bulbs from the store on the tree. Joanne, my dear wife, has made many of the ornaments we have. We have a picture of children when they were young. As we have traveled, we have purchased ornaments from that particular country or place. Some of the ornaments were given to us as gifts through the years. Every one of them has a story, and we like to relive the sacred story every Christmas. Often, as we look at each ornament, reminisce where it came from, or who gave it to us, we shed tears of joy and happiness, remembering how some of them came to be.

Read the Christmas story through the eyes of Luke in the New Testament (see Luke 2:1-20).
Few things touch my heart more than reading about the babe in Bethlehem, the shepherds watching their flocks by night, the angel arriving with his good tidings, the heavenly host praising God and singing, the humble shepherds rushing to see the new-born babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. The moment they arrived, these humble shepherds knew it was their Lord, Jesus Christ, and they were more than willing to glorify and praise God for all that they had seen and heard. That Christmas story has such great power!

Watch Christmas Videos
When you think of this you may think of all the Hallmark movies. While those may inject a bit of the Christmas spirit, I am talking videos about the sacred Christmas story—how Mary talked to an angel who foretold of the birth of Jesus, how the shepherds came to the manger and witnessed this great event, and how the three wise men came with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You can go here to see a couple of them:
 "The Christ Child" (My favorite) 
 “Angel foretells of Christ’s birth to Mary”

Write about your best Christmas memory.
I don’t know about you, but we have had some incredible Christmas memories. One I remember was when I was younger, we had to do chores before we could open presents. On our way outside, we detoured through the living room where the tree and all the presents were. Outside, we noticed sleigh tracks coming off the roof of our house, skidding across our yard on the fresh snow, and then disappearing. My brothers and I just looked at each other, much surprised. Even to this day, I do not know how they came to be. I can only imagine that Santa had come, flown to the top of our house, dropped down into our house through the chimney, and then raced off without a word. The key to remembering these memories and keeping them alive is reaching out to those who were in the memory and talking about the role they played in the memory and what it meant to you.

These five ways to spark the Christmas spirit in you may have helped you conjure up even more, so write them down, relive them, and let the Christmas spirit well up within you, especially now during this Christmas season but also for the rest of the year.

I believe the Christmas spirit can be within us always—if we allow it and remember it’s a wonderful and refreshing feeling.

Merry Christmas to all!


Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Story of November

November Poem Day #30--Last Day

The Story of November

Only one November exists
each year and only 30 days,
each individualized, overscheduled
with more than we ever imagined:
a typical gorgeous fall
with golden leaves everywhere,
in the valley and in the mountains,

weddings, our first snow,
Thanksgiving (salmon this year),
setting up the Christmas tree
and decorations at the end,
gathering chestnuts off the ground,
digging about in the garden,
fall finally ending with colder weather

and snow, freezing the leaves
on most of the trees.
Then a thaw dripped through
with the wind and blue skies,
only for a day or two
but enough to be mesmerized
by the thoughts of an elongated fall.

The sunsets were magnificent,
each unique with their orange,
yellow, blue, and purple hues.
We did celebrate my birthday,
Black Friday, and Cyber Monday,
nothing too spectacular unless
you looked for it or needed something.

Now, November is abruptly coming
to an end, with anticipation
of more snow, colder temperatures,
more crazy drivers on the roads
without any knowledge of how
to drive in the snow.
We can still reminisce about fall

and November, immersing ourselves
in such eclectic thinking,
perhaps enough to create
another November just like this one
or wrap up in one of Grandma’s quilts
and hibernate until next November.
Truly, it’s all a matter of choice.

November 30, 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Writing Your Stories

November Poem Month #29

Writing Your Stories

If you are not careful,
someone may write
a story about you.
Before they do, though, it
may be better for you to write
your own story, full of your truths,

experiences, and challenges.
They may not be what others want
to read or share or get emotional about.
But they are your stories, good, bad,
challenging, engaging, and wonderful!
Perhaps, it is now time to write

about your life’s transformations.
For me, it’s about milking cows,
working in the garden,
spending time with my grandparents
at their little grocery store,
going to so many different schools,

learning about history and literature
and bullies, learning to write poetry,
spending time moving sprinkler pipe
or in your room alone, listening
to Chicago and Bread,
roasting Marshmallows and hotdogs

haphazardly stuck on willows
cut from the clump from down by the slough,
learning to play marbles,
riding motorcycles up around Rainey Creek,
selling nightcrawlers to fishermen,
climbing mountains, swimming

in cold Idaho streams and lakes,
catching my first fish in Birch Creek,
experiencing the Hammon chicken harvest
in early fall, going to college
and learning a different way to think,
spending time in foreign countries,

marrying my sweetheart, waiting
for such a long time for children to come,
seeing miracles, moving from place to place,
settling each time—these are all stories,
and there are so many more
that you can conjure up

from memory, once you begin
to reminisce and think about your life.
Just dig deep and often and plop
your life out onto the page
where you see it and feel it again
as if for the very first time.

November 29, 2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

Art Classes

November Poem Day #28

Art Classes

I have discovered lately most acutely
the effervescent talent of artists.
I took a couple of art classes,
drawing and watercolor, and learned
my hands and fingers do not align
with the right side of my brain.

In fact, I had to wonder if my neurons
are actually even functioning.
They try really hard, probably enough
to receive a certificate of participation.

To be real, the blue sky with tinges
of oranges and yellows looked pretty good,
so did a couple of the trees and stems
of grass but the far-off mountains seemed
a little bleak and drab as if they were conjured up
out of forced necessity, not fluidity.

Surely, the brushes and pencils have minds
of their own, yet fail to share with me
what they are doing or thinking, keeping me
in the dark like some type of overshading.

The teacher affirms with just a nod
of her head, propelling us forward.
We struggle on, heads bent,
trying to focus while soft music plays
in the background, our brushes and pencils
dancing and creating havoc across the page.

I have to admit, a bit reluctantly,
that my personal inner canvas exposed
a bit of humility revealing that some things
do not come as easily as other things in my life.
What appeared in my mind’s eye so beautifully
just wouldn’t emerge as such on the page.
I could see it there, lounging so cavalierly, so boldly.
Something within wanted to escape, create,
magnify, be something grand, maybe even whimsical.

So, I let it out, hesitantly, knowing what
was really going to happen, resigning myself
to the inevitable or a surprise, a releasing a sense
of therapeutic wonderfulness, a luminosity,
allowing me to coax out some semblance
of beauty holed up inside that flopped onto the page.

Art is a marvelous way to cajole one’s inner self
to push paint around, do a little shading here and there,
let the paint soak into the page, perhaps even drizzling
it in such a way as to make something look more or less real.

I am okay with all that and will try again and again
until the brushes and pencils grudgingly heed
my plea while the paint strays into real shapes
and images, at least real enough for me.

November 28, 2022

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Milestones in Our Lives

November Poem Day #27

Milestones in Our Lives

Each of us has reached milestones
in our lives, some huge, some small,
some significant, some simple,
but we reach them—

climbing a high mountain peak,
climbing the stairs after surgery;

a weekly date with our loved one;
a night celebrating by ourselves;

a huge promotion at work,
learning a new job that is waiting for us;

a festive feast with so many family and friends,
eating solids after a long illness and hospital stay;

a new color and style of our hair,
our hair finally growing back after chemo;

buying your first home in a new city,
moving into your first apartment;

running a half-marathon as a personal best,
walking your first step after a hip replacement;

going to a concert of your favorite rock band,
listening to our grandchildren sing
happy birthday to you in a video;

the publication of your first novel,
a scribbled message of I love you!
from your little four-year-old;

a nine-day cruise to the Caribbean,
your first carriage stroll with a new baby—

Milestones come at opportune times,
sometimes knowingly, sometimes surprisingly,
yet they come and warm us no matter when,
and we celebrate each one.

November 27, 2022

Saturday, November 26, 2022


November Poem Day #26

End of Parley Street, Nauvoo, IL


I rather like reflections
as I look at the mountain
across the deep, dark blue lake
that sees itself,
sometimes a bit fuzzy
when the gentle breeze
blows across the water,
distorting the true image.

I see similar reflections
of the setting sun
as its deep oranges reflect
and bounce across the choppy waves
or even more perfectly
when turmoil does not exist.

Much clearer are the reflections
of ourselves in mirrors,
big or small, rectangle or square.

Often, just like the reflection
of the mountain or sun,
our view of ourselves
in the mirror is a bit blurry
unless we look more closely,
stand still, and look straight into it.

What do we see?
What do we want to see?
What should we see?

Can we see ourselves reflected
in the pictures of our parents,
grandparents, or other family members?

Do we see our smiles and positivity
reflected in others when we pass them
on the street or talk to them
in the office or at some event?

Often, what others do
or say reflects what
we have done or said
when they follow our lead.

In another room, bathed
in white in a sacred place,
we look into a mirror
in front of us and one behind us,
and we see the reflection
of ourselves forever and ever.

We should not look into the mirror
or within ourselves only to see
what others think of us
or what we think momentarily
of ourselves today.

True reflections allow us to see
with lucidity, no blurriness, no fog,
and help us understand and grasp
what we really can become,
now and beyond today,
perhaps even for eternity!

November 26, 2022

Friday, November 25, 2022

Reading Directions

November Poetry Month #25

Reading Directions

Reading directions has always been
a challenge for me.
I tend to bypass them,
just launch into doing
what needs to be done,
believe I can do it—
or so I think.
Invariably, before too long,
I am frustrated,
making the simple
more complicated.
If I had just read the directions,
it would be done,
finished, perfectly done,
my persona calm and together,
but my overlooking—
yes, ignoring—
directions throws me down
the erroneous path,
causing me to shove
the wrong part
in the wrong place,
causing such exasperation
so perplexing, so disturbing,
that I have to stop,
take five or six deep breaths,
perhaps even ten more
even deeper breaths,
in and out, even walking away
for some time
to avoid the situation.
But, eventually, I run out of steam,
succumb to the more compelling voice
of someone I love
more than life itself,
someone more pragmatic than I,
to calm me down
and think it through.
It is only then
that I finally understand,
once again for the umpteenth time,
that reading and following directions
is the only way to keep
within the bounds
of sanity, sensibility, and mindfulness.

November 25, 2022

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Art of Being Grateful

November Poem Day #24

The Art of Being Grateful

There is an art to being grateful,
especially every single day.
It’s easy to celebrate Thanksgiving
and be safely grateful
for a couple of hours
while we munch down turkey,
salmon, ham, three-bean salad,
some green Jello with pears,
mashed potatoes with real noodle gravy,
cranberries, broccoli salad,
pumpkin or berry pie
(always with ice cream),
or whatever your traditional eats are.

It’s the rest of the time,
when times are tough,
when something goes wrong,
or someone is mean to you.
Gratitude miserably wanes
during these challenging times,
mostly because our “woe-is-me”
weighs so heavily that we submerge
ourselves in its messy stickiness.

The kernel in all this hinges on
striving to be thankful every day—
for the big things, the little things,
the simplest things, even the mundane,
insignificant things.
All our lives are blessed
in some wonderful way.
The trick is learning
to become better sleuths
in finding and recognizing them.

Thanksgiving, November 24, 2022

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Who and whose we are

November Poem Day #23

Who and whose we are

The travesty of life is not truly knowing
who we are and not loving ourselves.
We berate ourselves, treat ourselves
with such animosity and disdain.

We add belittling labels
for good measure. If only we could
conquer such tortuous thoughts
and recognize that we are children
of a loving Heavenly Father,
endowed with spiritual gifts
and powers to overcome anything,
with a transcendent legacy
that is beyond anything
we can ever imagine.

When we look in the mirror
who and what do we see?

If for a brief moment
each day we could look
into the mirror, acknowledge
who and whose we are,
we would begin to change,
from the heart out
and then from head to toe.

We would sense a burgeoning
newness about us.
Our shame would dissipate
like fog on an early sunny morning.
We would arise stoically
from the abyss of self-deprecation.

We would know who we really are
and become who we need to become—
courageous, happy, self-assured,
confident yet humble and secure—
shedding the awful skins
of self-scorning and scolding—
knowing we are still in the arms
of Him who is the Creator of all things
whose love for us is eternal,
meaning forever more.

November 23, 2022

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Sense of Hope

November Poem Day #22

A Sense of Hope

We shiver and shudder within us
when we think of the awful plight
of the world, its wars, rumors of wars,
rampant corruption, senseless killings,
abuse, earthquakes, abject poverty,
the subjugation of so many people,
apathy, extremism, and a host
of other vile and nasty things.

It almost makes us crawl
into our rooms, close the blinds,
and avoid any connection
to the outside world.

But there is hope,
hope in Jesus Christ,
hope in His Atonement,
hope that we will be free

from all challenges
that doth beset us,
hope that He will come
again and reign in all his Majesty.

I believe in this hope.
I trust that hope is real.
I pray for this hope.
I invite hope to enter

into everyone’s life.
Hope is what will propel us
out of the abyss of hopelessness.
Hope will shatter the darkness

and allow Light to enter our lives.
Hope must prevail within us
to elicit the peace we must feel
to be whole once again,
today, tomorrow, and forever!

November 22, 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022

La Playa

Para mis amigos que hablan Español! He traducido el poema del dia para que puedan leelo.

La Playa

La playa es terapéutica,
especialmente en las primeras horas de la mañana
mientras serpenteamos a lo largo de ella,
buscando conchas y cristales de mar,
mirando simultáneamente al este.

Está tranquilo justo antes del amanecer,
un tiempo en el que puedes contemplar la vida
y sus múltiples desafíos.
Irónicamente, parecen disiparse
mientras sale el poderoso sol
estoico y audazmente en el horizonte.

Las olas rompiendo chocan contra la arena,
arrastrarse por la playa hacia las algas
ahora acostado en grupos entremezclados
con conchas descartadas
por otras olas a través de la noche.

A medida que las olas retroceden, la arena absorbe
un poco de agua salada antes de que se escape
de vuelta al mar, dejando la arena
mojado y suave hasta que los pequeños cangrejos de arena
corretean por la playa, tratando de encontrar
los agujeros más pequeños para entrar y enterrarse.

Por encima de nosotros y más arriba en la playa,
las palmeras brillan en el suave viento del Caribe
mientras las aves marinas revolotean sobre el mar,
buscando su desayuno o simplemente queriendo
interrumpir el momento de silencio.
La suavidad y la tranquilidad de todo
trae claridad e iluminación a nuestras almas.

Es fascinante detenerse y sentarse en el borde,
dedos de los pies cavando en la arena,
brazos envueltos alrededorlas rodillas
levantadas hacia el pecho, una mirada silenciosa
en las olas, rompiendo y arrastrándose
la playa y volviendo sobre sus pasos hacia el mar.

Solo miramos, meticulosamente, tomando el sol
en los gloriosos saludos de la mañana,
saludando al sol naciente, eclipsando
todos los sentimientos como un sentido de pertenencia y anhelo
porque más de esta paz cae sobre nosotros,
ondeando a través de nuestras mentes y corazones,
sintiendo la magnificencia de Aquel que es el Creador!

21 de Noviembre 2022

La Playa

November Poem Day #21

End of the Road in Samaná, DR

La Playa

The beaches are therapeutic,
especially in the early mornings
as we meander along them,
looking for seashells and sea glass,
simultaneously watching the east.

It’s quiet just before dawn,
a time you can contemplate life
and its many challenges.
Ironically, they seem to dissipate
as the mighty sun rises
stoically and boldly on the horizon.

The lapping waves crash onto the sand,
crawl up the beach into the seaweed
now lying in clumps intermixed
with seashells discarded
by other waves through the night.

As the waves recede, the sand absorbs
some salt water before it escapes
back into the sea, leaving the sand
wet and smooth until the little sand crabs
scamper across the beach, trying to find
the tiniest holes to enter and bury themselves.

Above us and further up the beach,
palm trees shimmer in the soft Caribbean wind
while the seabirds hover over the sea,
seeking for breakfast or just wanting
to interrupt the moment of quiet.
The softness and tranquility of it all
bring clarity and illumination to our souls.

It’s mesmerizing to stop and sit at the edge,
toes digging into the sand, arms wrapped around
pulled up knees to the chest, a silent staring
into the waves, crashing and creeping up
the beach and retracing their steps back to the sea.

We just watch, meticulously, basking
in the glorious hellos of morning,
greeting the rising sun, overshadowing
all feelings as a sense of belonging and longing
for more of this peace cascades over us,
rippling through our minds and hearts,
sensing the magnificence of Him who is the Creator!

November 21, 2022
a.m. in Puerto Plata

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Light becomes us

November Poem Day #20

Light becomes us

I feel more comfortable
traveling in the light
than in the darkness.

Landscapes, markers,
signs, people in crosswalks
are far more visible
in the light.

Darkness covers the familiar,
leaving the world
almost unrecognizable.

The light within us
is the same.

We see ourselves,
our whole selves,
so much better
when we are filled
with true light.

When darkness creeps in
because of choices
and mismatched values,
we lose sight
of the constant signs,
markers, and guides
that have helped us
along the way.

Light creates a vision
beyond ourselves
when we inject it
every single day,
diminishing the power of darkness,
and empowering us
to doing things
we have never done
seeing things
we have never seen
feeling things
that are truly worth feeling.

It's those consistent
daily injections of light,
now and forever,
that shape us,
heal us,
and give us
more light
to chase away darkness,
to see and become
who we really are,
growing brighter
and brighter
until that perfect day!

November 20, 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022


November Poem Day #19


Sunrises invigorate the soul,
no matter where you see them.
I particularly like sunrises
at the beach, my toes digging
into the sand that oozes
between them or standing
at the water’s edge like a sentinel,
watching the darkness turn into
shades of oranges and yellows
with some fringing blues.

As the sun tenuously makes its way
above the horizon, we bask
in the oranges and morning colors.
We saunter east along the beach
and onto the pier, extending out
over the calm sea in full view
of the brilliance of the morning.
Peering over the edge,
we see the water’s darkness,
turquoise during the day,
but now just a hue of night.

Dainty ripples displace the evening light,
as the reflecting rising sun’s rays
bounce along intermixing
the oranges, yellows, and dark greens.
The waves splash their way
to the shore, depositing the evening colors
onto the sand where the seaweed
has washed up overnight.

We just stand there, waiting
for the sun to immerse us
in the new morning, now creeping up
and over the far horizon,
becoming larger, engulfing everything,
and then popping up and over,
one giant ball of fire and beginning
its crawl through the sky, turning
the morning colors to piercing blues
with a few white puffy clouds,
the night dissipating into the water.

We lounge for a brief moment more,
eyes closed, faces toward the sun,
soaking up the rays and relishing
the early morning while sea birds scream
overhead, looking for a quick breakfast.

November 19, 2022

Friday, November 18, 2022

Cajoling words to come out and play

November Poem Day #18

Cajoling words to come out and play

Writing poetry or anything really is a challenge.
Sometimes the words just do not come out.
They linger longer than they need to,
gurgling somewhere deep within you
or hover just on the surface,

just waiting to spill out onto the page,
making more noise than they should.
Somethings, they plop out like globs of mud
covering your whole pages with words
but not in the right places.

You have to use either a broom
to sweep the lounging ones away
or a paintbrush to stroke them into place.
Other times, a mere poof of our breath
will press them perfectly in line.

Words are meant to sing highs and lows,
dance waltzes or jitterbugs, or even melt
in your mouth when they touch your tongue,
quicken your mind, ease peace into your soul.
Words can do that and so much more,

if you let them, coax them, cajole them,
and even command them into place,
promising them they will thrill the world.
Once they juxtapose where they need to go,
where you want them to go and stay,

then they become simultaneously
delicious and savory,
peaceful and meaningful,
kind and compassionate,
vibrant and wistful,
bold but not overbearing
to all who read them
in the right mind,
the right place,
the right mood.

November 18, 2022

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

November Poem Day #17

La Isla Saona near Bayahibe

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

The water is cold in eastern Idaho—
the lakes, creeks, and rivers.
So cold you shiver,
the moment you step in
even in the summer.

The water comes cold
from high mountain snows
and glaciers, flows downstream,
still cold, still frigid, ice-like.

I thought all water was like that
until we went to the Caribbean,
the Dominican Republic,
Bayahibe and La Isla Saona,
any beach there.

I had heard stories
of the lukewarm water
of the Caribbean and wondered
if it were true.

My first time at the edge
of the sand where the ocean began,
I hesitated, the past years
of frigid cold still in my mind,
making me shiver
in the hot, humid air.

Then, I strode out into the water,
my mind, surprised, propelled me
forward, clamoring for more,
farther and farther out
until I was chest-high.


I donned my snorkel
with prescription lenses
and eased beneath the water,
anticipating the shock of cold.

But it didn’t come, never came.

Adjusting my breathing,
I looked around.

Fish of all colors, kinds,
and sizes darted in
and around me,
swimming close
into my line of vision.

I just lay there forever,
it seemed, moving ever so gently,
basking in the oh, so warm water,
forgetting about eastern Idaho,
the cold water, the deep freezes,
chipping ice, sub-below weather,
and the constant cold snow.

The Caribbean oozes
through my being
with its warmth
and turquoise water,
so balmy,
so inviting,
so sauna-like.

November 17, 2022

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Weightier Things

November Poem Day #16

The Weightier Things

We often live a life
of ease and superficiality.
Everything is digital.
Cars almost run themselves.
You can manage
household appliances
from our phones.
Robust information can be
accessed in one click,
maybe two.

We worry
about how many likes
or hearts we receive
on our posts.
We worry too much
about how we look,
what clothes we wear,
and the size of our 401Ks.

What about
the weightier things
of the world—
Who we are,
and whose
we really are?

How our attitude
shapes our lives?
About the Atonement
of Jesus Christ?
About what happens
when we die?
The Plan of Happiness?
Or what we do
to become even better
human beings?
How we treat others?
More importantly,
the welfare of our families,
on both sides of the veil?

Should we not seek
the weightier, more profound
things of life
that will provide
a soulful purpose
and leads us
to never-ending happiness?

November 16, 2022

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My dad was right about silver platters

November Poem Day #15:

My dad was right about silver platters

Growing up is a challenging time.
For some of us, we thought
we knew everything
and expected people
to cater to us.

My dad set me straight.
His dad died when he was 11.
He emerged as a tough guy,
a high school dropout,
tattoos in the army.

He told me in colorful language
that life was not served
on a silver platter.
He created opportunities
for us to learn to work
and serve others.

Moanings and groanings erupted
during chores and such
but not when he was around.
We knew the consequences….

I milked cows, fed the horses,
dug postholes, worked in the garden,
bucked hay, pulled weeds,
mowed and trimmed the lawn,
shoveled snow in our yard
and our neighbors’ yards—
no allowance, just a bed,
a shared room with two brothers,
numerous delicious meals,
and all the snacks we could eat
with some clothes
and fishing trips thrown in.

When I had a real job,
I bought my own clothes,
a motorcycle, a Hodaka 100,
and then a used car,
a 1970 Chevy Impala for $600.

I sacrificed, saved money,
went to college on my own dime,
worked so we could pay
the rent, tuition, and books.
Hard work paid off.
We left college with no debt!  

Now, I sing praises to my dad,
his hard, yet wise counsel,
his relentless working us,
his attitude toward service.

I confess we do have just one
silver platter in our house.
It stays hidden in the cupboard,
biding its time for special occasions
where it, too, must work,
carry heavy things, and serve others.

November 15, 2022  

Monday, November 14, 2022

Growing up in the Country

November Poem Day #14:

Thanks to Dennis Hammon Photograph--
Picture of Menan, Idaho, population 596 in 1975

Growing up in the Country

Growing up in the countryside amidst the horses, cows,
pigs, chickens, a few ducks and geese, and a large garden
make children grow up fast and learn responsibility.

Early mornings create some havoc for those of us
whose pillows have become our innate friends
and the warmth of the covers keeps us holed up in dreams.

The cooking bacon and eggs, hashbrowns
from real Idaho potatoes, waffles
and sometimes French toast lull us
into scrambling out of the beds, jumping
into old faded 501s, and shoving on our boots.

We eat a hearty breakfast, knowing that tomorrow
will come again with more food and gallons
of fresh, organic milk, organic in sense
of what sometimes floats to the top.

It’s all about the organic, living in the country
with winds, cows, strainers that the milk seeps through,
eliminating most of the organicness,
and cats, tortoiseshell and grays, that sip
on the foam in their favorite bowls
or open their mouths for squirts of warm milk.

In the spring, though, things get
a little gooey with a snow and rain mix.
We try to toss straw bales into the corrals
and mix it up with sloppy slush, hoping
it will soak it up and make it less sticky and smelly.

When the cow tromps into the barn to be milked,
we strap her tail in the hobbles, hoping with every fiber
of our brain that it will not come out.
Yet, we know it will, heavy-laden with manure
and barnyard muck, slapping us across the face,
coating us with awful-smelling stuff.

But that is the life of farm boys in early spring.
We just wash off, shower, splash on a little
of Dad’s Old Spice, hoping the girls at school
smell that and not the gunk from the barn.

At night, we repeat the daily chores—
feeding pigs, chipping ice in the winter,
tossing hay to horses and cows,
filling the chickens’ feeders, gathering
any eggs we missed during the morning run,
and then return to the house, wash up,
comb our hair so as to be presentable.
Before we sit, we stand, mom eying
each of us, taking inventory.

Then, she nods her approval, places
some sort of potatoes and all the accouterments
on the table, where we now sit
after passing inspection, heads bowed,
waiting to hear a thankful prayer to heaven,
all the while anticipating filling our growling,
empty stomachs and watering mouths.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Six Haiku

November Poem Day #13

Six Haiku

Sunflowers raise heads
each time the sun passes by
internal calmness

Cock pheasants burst forth
disappear into the night
tail feathers streaming

Rose blossoms seek truth
through reds, pinks, peach, yellows, whites
stoic in the wind

Spring rains patter down
gurgles on the ground knowing
they give abundance

Morning dew glistens
shielding life with a sheen
seen by open eyes

White lilies smile
when little children walk by
discerning pureness

November 13, 2022

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The stillness of nights

November Poem Day #12: 

The stillness of nights

In the country, nights are peaceful
and serene—no lights, no artificial sounds.
Yet, when you sit beneath
the weeping willow, the serenity
of the night erupts into a cacophony
of night sounds, nature’s sounds—
of owls out in the woods somewhere,
hooting for their own to respond.

Along Spring Creek, the mallards float in,
wings bent just so, and calmly land
in the middle of the creek
or on the eddy, quacking sounds of joy
or comfort or just being out of the air.

Amidst the constant gurgling
of the creek as it swirls downstream,
frogs croak incessantly while the crickets chirp
in cadence with them and other night sounds.

Mosquitos continually cluster around your head,
buzzing viciously, perhaps, trying
to find the most perfect spot to stick you.

Some nights, the coyotes sit secluded,
maybe perched on the hillside,
yipping, one to another
while the horses in the corral
whinny good nights to each other.

Soon the pheasants begin
their musical crowing
until a fox or something rustles
them to flush, uttering
excited two-note calls
as they burst through the night.

These nights sounds, and so many others,
calm us, transport us to a place
of serenity and tranquility away
from the busyness of our lives.

To hear the placidity within ourselves,
we must hush the fears and concerns
that rope our lives, turning us
this and that way, scattering
them to places far and wide.

Yet, the serenity of it all stills
those thoughts, quells our scatterings,
lulls us into thinking all is mostly well,
and we succumb to noiselessness
of the peace that quenches
the longings of our souls.

November 12, 2022