Horses and buggies can be found clopping up and down the roads of Kishacoquillas Valley in Central Pennsylvania. Big Valley lies between the towns of Lewistown and Huntingdon. It is the home of a great number of Amish and Mennonite Farmers, who, along with many others farm, this beautiful valley. People there refer to their home as Big Valley. It is the home of many of my ancestors on both sides of my family. It is one of the most beautiful places in the country. These are a few of the sights you might see on a visit there.
It was my first visit to Chernobyl since the reactor meltdown years ago. I grew up there as a child; rode the Ferris Wheel and Bumper Cars in the park. My father worked in a one of many factories owned by the government.
As our SUV pulled into the radiation zone, I could see things had changed. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and wild foxes roamed the fields nearby looking for rabbits and field mice. But, there was an eerie sad silence that seemed to wrap its arms around me.
Pulling up to the factory where my father went each day, I could see the jagged glass broken in the windows; the sagging doors were orange with rust. “No one left and no one came on the bare platform.”Hell must be like this I thought; memories of what once was…
Today at d’verse we are doing Prosery, combining poetry into a 144 word prose piece. Sarah gave a line form a poem that must be incorporated into our flash fiction piece. Our line today comes from a poem called Adelstrop by Edward Thomas. It is: “No one left and no one came on the bare platform.”
Black walnuts always take me home
Back to the place of my childhood
And to the black walnut tree growing
On the side of the hill above the driveway
Each fall a bushel full lay in crushed array Uncracked by car tires driving over
Today at d’Verse, De Jackson asked us to write a quadrille of 44 words for our prompt, and use some form of the word Crack. The word crack brought back memories of collecting, shelling, and later, cracking black walnuts to pick out the meat for cookies and eating. The nuts have a tough husk around the outside and need to fall on the ground and deteriorate some before they can be removed. We poured them on the driveway and used the car tires to shell them out. Then, we put them in the basement next to the coal furnace to dry. The shell of the actual nut is very hard and had to be broken with a hammer.
The photo above shows my siblings, with our neighbor, before I was born. You can see the walnut tree on the hill just to the right of the old water pump. The actual drive was created after I was born.
Sitting in the driveway, under the old Maples, a long-forgotten song played on the car radio. It took him right back to that moment in time when he was sixteen. “Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue, with a love so rare and true…”floated from the speakers. Peggy Sue was one of those memories he had pushed back into the closet of his mind.
Under the maples, in the dark of the evening, he hesitantly gave her a kiss. It was the first for both of them. It all happened so quickly; and then she was off, back around the house.
Hormones raged, as they sat holding hands on the swing, under the naked bulb of the front porch light. Pandora’s box had been opened, never to be closed again.
Though time and circumstances changed their course. “These memories were left here with the trees.”
Painting: Dwight L. Roth
Tonight at d’Verse we are writing Flash Fiction, which must include a line of a poem in our story. Stories are limited to only 144 words.
If the rings on this turtle’s shell are connected to its age, it must be very old. He was probably two and a half feet long and probably twenty inches across. A man with a van had him and a couple of other smaller turtles in a grassy area next to a parking lot. He was collecting money to help buy food for them. The details in this beautiful creature are astounding. I took some photos and gave the man a little to help him on his way.
When we moved to the Charlotte area of North Carolina several years ago, it felt like home. The rolling hills, the corn fields, and the woodlands all felt very much like the area of Pennsylvania where I grew up. I came to the conclusion that home is really a feeling that brings back memories of our past. I wrote this poem as a song at that time describing how I felt. I have edited it to make it flow better when read.
Home is a Feeling
Home is a feeling you’ll know when you’re there
No matter how far you go no matter where you’ve been
The thought of harboring our children in safe places came to mind, when Lillian at d’verse asked us to write a Quadrille of 44 words using the word harbor. It brought to mind two of my favorite songs: Teach Your Children Well and Cat’s in the Cradle. With all the violence and mayhem going on around us, children no longer can feel safe, even while at school. Home should be that safe haven where our children need not fear and were loving relationships are the primary goal.
When we drove in the road to see the old house where I was born, my first reaction was “Oh, my!!” The place was unrecognizable. It was so overgrown with weeds that you could barely see the front porch. The yard was not mowed and it appeared to be in a state of disrepair. My mind quickly raced to the days when everything was trimmed and neat. The house was painted and the garden planted. It is heartbreaking to see how things have changed in fifty years.
Drove past our old house today hoping to gather some memories
Quickly realized that memories were all that remained
Nothing appeared as I remembered // everything had changed
Weeds wrapped the house like a blanket
The yard had disappeared swallowed up by the woods
My friend Henry and me ready for school!
De Jackson at d’Verse asked us to write a poem of 44 words that included the word quick (or a form of it) for Quadrille Monday. Nothing ever stays the same as you can see by my house then and now!