Hanging Out Laundry

There’s something peaceful about hanging out laundry. Standing in the sun attaching damp clothes to a rope with wooden pins is my favorite chore.

It is not drudgery, not like digging an asparagus bed or scrubbing the kitchen floor.


Standing in all the green looking up at the cottony clouds scudding across the sky, touching the white cotton t-shirts smelling fresh as the wind blowing them dry.

Sharing words with the mockingbird who provides the music as the breeze bows to the billowing pillowcase and they all waltz together, the windy pillow clouds.

I lean on the porch railing and long to fly like the mockingbird, the pillowcase, the clouds,

but it is well enough to be here, now, rooted to this spot in the country where I can hang underwear on the line and not worry that the birds might malign the whiteness of my clothes.  Though the mockingbird has tired of waltzing and now composes for my listening pleasure a raucous ditty, a laughing cacophony,

making witty fun of the paint-stained gloves, but I can laugh with him because it is greensummerwarm and there is time to hang the laundry out in the sun. 

The Road Winds Around

The Road Winds Around

The road winds around through time —
a gray concrete ribbon now,
edged with yellow and white lines.
But before now, then,
then there was a land between two rivers —
inhospitable high forested hills–
stopped the glacier eons ago.
The narrow lands in the valleys curve around the next hill;
the banks of the meandering stream
that connects the two rivers
are the only flat lands
until Ohio.

Deer and bear and Native Iroquois carved out the first path —
the leaves and dirt compacted and hardened by the feet of
animals, wild and domestic; people, wild and domestic.
The route was never chosen, never drawn on paper;
it just became.
Horses picked the easiest way up the high hill;
moccasins chose the slowest curve for walking downhill;
wagons took the flattest way along the stream’s flood plain.
And year after year, as the trees grew and changed colors and dropped their leaves,
the path grew and changed
into a road.

As the road grew wider and harder,
an inn appeared on a long slow curve, where water was plentiful.
The land was flat and spacious for carriages and wagons and horses.
At thirty miles between the towns,
it was a pleasant stopping point between two arduous rides.
Farms dotted the road in between the ridges and woodlands;
sheep proliferated on the hilltops,
cows lived in the narrow valleys
where barns were wedged
between the hills.

Even the industrial era —
coal mines and the discovery of oil —
did not bring more traffic to the hills and curves of the road.
Rather, the oil barons and the coal companies used barges
to float the precious cargo
up and down the rivers to Pittsburgh.
When barges no longer sufficed,
railroads were built on the flat river banks
for the transport
of black rock and black gold.

The surroundings were home
to coal, oil, and gravel,
and the road was macadam,
until Mr. Ford’s Folly was assured.
In 1935, workless men were put to work
laying asphalt over the macadam;
the steam engines and rollers puffing and belching
to get to the top of the hills with picturesque names:
Tin Can Hill, Clearcut Ridge, McFeeter’s Knob,
String Bean Bluff…

The inn, vacant for years, burned to the ground in the thirties,
and a small filling station took its place.
The flood plain by the creek held picnic tables
for families traveling in their new cars.
Family farms were handed down to the next generation of farmers,
never wealthy, but never hungry;
self-reliant but good neighbors;
taciturn, but full of life;
independent, but willing to serve.

And then the era of speed flashed
upon the road–
a lightning bolt in a summer storm.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike,
the first high-speed road of its kind,
opened for business in 1940,
and moved those cars and trucks
across the Blue Ridge Mountains,
linking Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh.
Seven abandoned railroad tunnels were used for going, not over,
but through those mountains.
Cars and trucks traveling ever faster,
left hills and curves behind in favor of straight, wide, and flat.

There was no straight, wide, or flat
on the road between two rivers.
No.
The road winds around
between hills, valleys, trees and farms,
and is left in the dust of the modern world of speed,
instant indulgence, and time saved.
Those who have chosen that mostly peaceful life
are mostly happy with their choice.
The restless have moved on;
the educated children have moved away
to bigger cities, better jobs, faster lives.
The straight, wide, flat roads bring them home to visit,
only to leave again and again.
Those who stay have chosen place over pace,
paucity over plenty,
peace over prosperity,
people over public.

But some stay who haven’t chosen. Poverty limits them, lack of education limits them, the hills limit them.

Just as the hills keep away hurry,
the hills isolate and divide
those who stay on purpose
and those who are left
in the dust.

The road winds around through time,
telling its story to those
who will take the time
to listen.

IMG_1559

 

This is actually taken from a novel I’m writing, Eminent Domain. I’d be glad for comments.

 

Relics of Time and Memory

Indian Rock

There are big rocks thirty miles to the south
in Slippery Rock Creek.
There are big rocks thirty miles to the east
in the National Forest.
There are big rocks thirty miles to the north
on the shores of Lake Erie.
But here in the rolling farm lands of Black Ash
there is just one big rock.

Walk with us just down the hill
past the edges of the berry bramble
and the fallow field
to where the
North Fork of the West Branch of Little Sugar Creek
winds its way through the beeches and hemlocks,
rippling and glinting
murmuring and echoing
the breeze of the leaves.

witch_hazel_03_fullTurn here at the witch hazel tree.
The path narrows, but just a stone’s throw
into the little glen
Indian Rock is there,
dominating.
A ten-foot maple tree grows from its moss;
Eons and roots have split the smooth stone.
There is a foot ledge
to enable scrambling,
but no grand view from the top,
for this granite boulder guards a small ravine
and a bubbling spring
that feeds the
North Fork of the West Branch of
Little Sugar Creek.

a giant granite anomaly amidst
a sea of sandstone,
thrown here in ancient days by melting glaciers
and God.

The granite is carpeted with moss
and baby blue forget-me-nots
Pale green lichens and fiddlehead ferns–
Miniature perfection.

delicate rock garden Forget-me-not flowers in moss and stones

Image courtesy of freeimages.co.uk

Relics were found here.
Mortars, pestles, arrowheads
from the people called Seneca.
Picture the mother, baby strapped to her back
pounding the leather, the corn,
kneeling to collect clear cool water from the spring.
i carry my child in a bright green back pack and we
collect the water
in our plastic Mr. Donut buckets,
but i feel a kinship with her just the same.

i lift him from the backpack and sit him on the soft moss;
i step up on the ledge from behind
and we rest in the shimmering green sunlight
on an ancient moraine.

my pale hand reaches to stroke this red haired child
crawling on the mossy rock
as her brown hand tousles the dark hair of her child
crawling on the mossy rock
and in that second
our fingers
touch
through
time.

sunlight on rocks