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In my words, March 25 – 31

Here with Dad for a week in the South Mountain. For two days it snowed and drizzled. Akram and I slept, slowed down from New York. Thursday we walked up Fire Tower Road—we still call it that although no fire tower is at the top anymore—and looked down on Lancaster Valley through the branches beginning to bud, small red little nuts that soon will unfold into leaves. Coming back, we stopped to see frogs gathering and floating in a swampy snow-edged stream, making love, spewing out their cloudy eggs, no stopping them. What would spring be without the song of frogs?

I’ve been eating too much although it’s been the weather for it. I made Dad some of his favorites, shrimp cocktail, chicken breast with broccoli, venison with mashed potatoes and sweet peas from a can I found in the kitchen closet where I have to shuffle through many cans to find what I want. My brother and his wife, and two of my sisters with their husbands came over one night for chili. Earlier, I’d opened a can of peaches to put over the eventual ice cream, but the peaches were discolored, a mushy brown. I gave them a careful taste; they weren’t bad, but I decided not to use them because food has to look good before you eat it. “Give it to the crows,” I said to myself. Mom used to say that. When she was alive, a flock of them lived nearby in the pines waiting to feast on whatever she would give us to throw up in the field, good stuff too like leftover casseroles and stews that would be forgotten and grow mold. Nothing was ever wasted. “Give it to the crows.”

Now crows in twos and threes have been stopping by to see what I’ve been throwing out. I’m happy to see them. I woke at dawn this morning and came downstairs. Patsy Cline was softly singing. Dad was sitting in the rocker, back to me, watching the field where crows were already cawing, coming and going, circling above as the light began to reveal the wood stove and Dad’s round, speckled, bald head. I wanted to stop time then; it would have been heaven.

The crows go calling, “There is bread, there is
bread in the field, hot dog buns that have been
thrown by a man who doesn’t seem to want
them.” It is startling how the news travels
fast. Suddenly black wings break up the air.
What seemed so far is really near. More than
what’s good becomes a happy memory.
We are born and are who we are because
we were loved or loved and beaten or just
beaten like so many colored pebbles
that are shaken and come to rest in a
jar. I’m glad I’ve thrown the bread causing all
of this commotion coming from the pines
and sky. The cawing’s comforting; it’s mine.

Easter noon was a clamor in Lancaster with fire engines and many sirens in the distance. “I’d rather be here than there,” I said to Akram as the train came and we maneuvered in line to get in the door, get a seat; Akram always lags behind; I am much more aggressive making my way, not stepping on toes, but steadily. As we passed an Amish farmhouse, the conductor scanned our tickets. “Don’t you punch them anymore?” I asked. “I’ll punch you later,” he said, not flirting, just being genial.

Guernseys and Holsteins are in the muddy field, gray day about to rain. This countryside used to be my home, is my home if we define home as where the heart is. Leaving my heart again, through Philly, Trenton into the horizon of New York; meanwhile the optimistic smell of manure is on the fields.

It always seems when I have more leisure, I play the guitar. I will never be a great guitarist; it is a means to an end, and that end is singing a song that I’ve written or partly written like Robert Johnson’s Walking Blues and the Carter Family’s Keep on the Sunny Side. They changed as I learned them. Sing a song you like and it becomes you. I’m not a great singer either, but I do want to sing the words I write. If anyone would like to sing them too, be my guest. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them, sung up in the mountains.

I hope too that all my observing Jewish friends have been having a wonderful time with their families and congregations (may the Angel of Death pass over again) and for my Christian friends this Easter, may Jesus have risen from the tomb just like the daffodils are doing out of the cold ground.

The art:

Mountain Bud by Akram
Frog by Akram
Crow by Cathy Yorty Cox
Long Limb by Andrew Wyeth, 1999


  1. Peter Bushyeager

    Lovely post!

  2. Thanks, Peter. You are very kind to say so.

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