Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hope's Brightest Ray






                            Alone beneath the wind’s white drifting
A lonely, yet not surprising sadness stirs his heart
For a time when life served him so much more
Oh how he longs to go back before it all fell apart

When loved ones were close beside and never far
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
He sits on the park bench and questions why
His aching heart longs for those lost yesteryears

 A more simple time moved much slower back then
And a home meant joy within his boyhood breast
To hear those old familiar voices calling him back
Would give him a new song filled with joy and rest

His eager youth could never find a way to hold it
Although his yearning heart tried so earnestly
The wind’s directions pulled at his heart strings
But life’s lessons unfolded bitter and so strongly

A young man in his prime set out to do his duty
To conquer the world and see a magnificent place
Fighting for freedom, his homeland and country
But war’s wounds can never be forgotten or erased

The cold‘s sting, the wind’s own flying breath
Stirs more so, the old hurts his mind has bore so long
And that long ago boy that fast became a man
Wonders how he’s suppose to live and carry on

There’s been to many days of anguish, nights of pain
Since the hands he held in his, long loosed their hold
Through the summer’s heat and winter’s wrath
After a while a lonely heart tends to lose all control

 If for one brief moment he could see a friendly smile
It would help his mind find a stillness of it’s own
Such a thing is worth it all and would last for quite a while
And has the power to lift one from a combat zone

If he could tell his stories of how he grew and lived
Working hard to feed his family, he’d welcome it in
And how he missed out on an education cause life was slim
He’d forget about his lost years and smile once again

He grew up knowing what he had to do and how
Oh the things he could tell, what joy it would bring
And the wisdom he learned down through the years
Common sense will take you far and means everything

Maybe if listening ears could spare a little time
And relive an old man’s life, what knowledge they’d gain
It would shed new light on a past that’s never gone
For the ways of the old, time well spent is never in vain

Till then he’ll sit and wait for the spring birds to sing
Perhaps the sun’s warmth might brighten his day
Bringing joy to his lonely heart and food for his soul…and
  Loneliness might be left smoldering in hope’s brightest ray

© Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mama's Chickens






My mama loved raising chickens better than anything besides growing her flowers and always managed to have some when we were growing up. I can’t remember a time when chickens weren’t running around scratching all day or hearing the ole hens cackling when they’d laid their eggs. And there’s nothing like being chased by an ole sittin hen when she gets the mindset to be ornery when she thinks her chicks might be harmed.
 When spring time came in mama kept an eye on those ole hens when they took off to build their nest. Mama knew where every nest was and if she didn’t she’d watch them till she knew just about the exact location.  Daddy tickled all of us to death. He’d stand on the porch and say, “lookie yonder at your mamie, she’ll follow them ole hens till one of these days she’ll get a snake around her neck.”


There were a lot of varmints to contend with like hawks, foxes, etc. but that didn’t detour mama from doing what she loved to do. Sometimes an ole hawk would dive down and grab a baby chick.
One ole hawk really was bold one day and dived down in the middle of the yard. Mama run down those steps faster than a cat could lick and grabbed the first rock she could get her hands on and threw it straight up at that hawk. The rock didn’t come close to him but it scared him enough to drop the little chick. The poor little thing died on impact if it wasn’t already dead.  It broke mama’s heart and she said, “I’ll kill that thing if it’s the last thing I do.” Daddy wanted to put his two cents in but knew better and turned around and walked back in the house. Those varmints were brave to show themselves around mama.

When an ole varmint grabbed a hen on her nest mama would take the eggs and put them under another ole hen. We never could keep up with how many ole hens and chickens mama really had but she knew each one of the hens and had most of them named and knew where each one built their nest.
When it came time for all the baby chicks to hatch out there’d be several ole hens and their baby chicks running around to feed and those hens were mean as a striped snake. We knew better to get their feathers riled. 
 Those ole roosters were awfully cocky as well.  Mama never could stand to hear an ole rooster crow in the middle of the day. She said it meant bad luck. She’d throw rocks at one to get him to stop. It was usually the young roosters that had just learned how to crow and thought they were something. Daddy told her that one day she was wasting her time and she said, “well it’s about time they learned when to crow and I’ll teach em.”

She’d put as many of the ole hens up in chicken pens as she could and the little ones would go in and out through the chicken wire till roost time. When the chicks got a little older she’d let them out of the pen to make room for more. Every now and then a fox would reach through or under the wire and get one of the hens and leave the babies to fend for themselves. Mama would catch the babies and put them in a cardboard box and feed them. She’d take them in the house at night and cover them with an old rag. They’d peep for a little bit and then get quite as a mouse till morning. When morning came she’d carry the box back out on the front porch and let them out for the day.

She did this many times and they thought of her as their mama cause every evening at about the same time they’d come up the front door steps looking for mama. Someone would holler here comes your babies mama. If she was in the house she’d come a trotting. If she was already sitting on the porch she’d stick her legs out and they’d climb up both legs and onto her lap. Sometimes they’d climb up on her shoulders. She’d say, “awe, come on and I’ll put you to bed, I know you’re ready fer it.” She’d carry each one and place them back in their box till morning.  This became a daily routine for mama till they grew big enough to fend for themselves. They’d grow so big they already had their little tail feathers and they kept on prancing up those steps for mama to put to bed.  It’d finally get to the point she had to run them back down the steps and I can just hear her now, “ uns go on now and find ye a place to roost, you’re plenty big enough to fend fer yourself.”



My uncle was visiting late one summer evening and was sitting on the porch talking with mama and daddy when a batch of those chicks came up those steps and walked towards mama. She straightened her legs out and they climbed up her legs as pretty as you please and onto her lap.  He asked her about it and she told him they did that every evening wanting to be put to bed. He said he’d never seen anything like it before in his life. He told mama she had those chicks spoiled and she said, “spoiled or not, someone has to take care of the little fellers.”


Mama also loved to raise those pesky guineas and we all hated those things with a passion, daddy included. An ole guinea ain’t got any sense and can do the craziest things. When they sit on a nest of eggs till they hatch out they practically abandon their little ones. We’ve watched ole guinea hens stand out in the pouring down rain and look straight up and never try to hunker down so the little ones could get under them and stay dry. They’d walk around with their head in the air and let the little ones drown. The only thing they were good for was letting us know when a snake crawled through the grass. They’d all gather around it and you never heard the beat and of course the chickens had to join in as well. It’s a wonder the snake didn’t die of a heart attack on the spot.
They also loved going to the main, paved road and just stand in the middle of it.  When one or two would meet their waterloo we’d shout in secret for mama’s sake. She lost quite a few in that road but always managed to triple even more so come spring.

The only thing an ole guinea is fit for is keeping bugs off of stuff. They sure did keep the bugs off of mama’s flowers. They’d even eat ole stink bugs, shewww.  I do believe that’s one of the reasons mama liked to raise them. She sure prided herself on those flowers.


Mama did some funny things when it came to raising chickens and guineas. When an ole guinea was sitting on a nest of eggs mama would watch her till she left the nest for a while and then slip and take those eggs out of the nest and put them under an ole sittin hen while she was off of her nest. She’d remove all of the hen eggs except ONE and replace them with the guinea eggs. It was the funniest sight you’ve ever seen to see that ole hen walking around with a bunch of baby guineas and one little chick in the bunch. 

We always said, there was never a chicken or guinea that built a nest that mama couldn’t find, even if it meant going into the snakiest places there were. Mama prided herself on her chickens and guineas. My mama was an inspiration to us all and even though we didn’t always understand her motives or love for certain things she sure did know her stuff and taught us a lot of life lessons along the way.



I love going back to our childhood home in the spring. I can still hear those ole hens cackling when they lay their eggs and see them running around with those little chicks behind them and yes, I can still hear those ole guineas as well. I can also see mama standing in the yard watching an ole hen take off towards her nest.  It’s like turning back time and I’ll always cherish those sweet memories of mama and her chickens and the ole guineas too. 

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Her Corner Of The World






She came from humble beginnings
A place she grew, learned and loved so
Across many mountains, hills and valleys
There was nary a trail she never came to know

Where a simple, little home became a mansion
And laughter sounds a stronger note than tears
Still holds their rhythm in the scheme of life
 In the wind’s sweet insistence from yesteryears

How many childhood days did she play and run
So happy and carefree through those ancient fields
Feeling the wind and rain brushing against her face
So many praises rise above for the joy it still yields

When she closes her eyes she can still see it clear
And hear the humming of the little, honey bees
Under crab apple trees that still bloom in the spring
She faintly smells the perfumed, petal rippling breeze

And the gathering of family around the fire at night
So many cherished memories still fresh in her mind
A father telling his life stories to each of his young
A mother sewing on quilts, a sure legacy left behind

An old oil lamp sits in the window, guiding her path
Leading her onward to that little mansion home
Where the door is open and the light shines bright
She steps inside to a welcome, the best she’s known

Those familiar voices she hears are music to her ears
Gathered around the table, giving blessings galore
The simple, little things in life, are the best of wealth
Even a bowl of milk and bread is worth so much more


Many seasons have come and gone in yesterday’s wind
 The memories will always be close beside all of her days
For the pleasures of this world is found only in the heart
Perhaps across some shadowy valley or ridge, in joyful ways

 And when she is bearing a load up some steep hillside
Familiar echoes are there, pulling her homeward bound
The cool, mountain air upon her face is still just as fresh
Yet still the earth beneath the paths lie packed and brown

A cool drink of water straight from a mountain spring
Where the mountain still hold its kingdom and crown
Crystal, clear waters flow from its downward sloping
Can quench a thirsty soul better than any to be found

She’ll never forget where she came and where she’s been
Or the many miles while spreading her wings to fly
 Trying to find the end of a rainbow takes an eternity
But the gold lies within her heart underneath the same sky

In her corner of the world the mountains are her legacy
She never knows what lies beyond a hilltop but delight
For the things that cause memories to awaken her soul
She so yearns for, she shall sit down and write and write

© Susie Swanson, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February





There’s something about the month of February
It warms my heart despite the ground hog day
He tries to ruin it thinking he’s a know it all
 He can’t predict the weather, there’s no way

Two presidents would roll over in their graves
It’s a very good thing they don’t have a clue
They’d pull out all the muzzle loaders and cannons
Knowing that groundhog was overshadowing them too

 If he thinks he’s going to take over Valentine’s Day
He’s got another thing coming that’s for sure
That’s the one day of the year set aside for love
And cupid’s arrow will not pierce him, I assure

I don’t even know why they want to give him a holiday
He thinks cause he saw his shadow it’ll be six weeks more
Spring will be here soon enough, we don’t need him around
He’s waiting for garden time so he can slip in the back door

I got news for that groundhog and he better listen close
February may be short and sweet but it can stand its ground
There’s no little bushy tail critter going to take it over
Get back in that hole before it becomes your burial mound

© Susie Swanson, 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

Reminising





When I look at these beautiful mountains surrounding me and these old roads I’ve traveled down, I think of the many memories made every time my feet hit the ground.

It may not mean much to some but it’s worth more than any money can buy. An old country girl having lived the good life and praising God until I die.

So many paths I’ve taken, my yearning heart has always brought me back, to this grand old place where the simple life is still intact.

Walking down a little trail to my grandparents house many a yesterday. Helping grandma with her canning, peeling peaches and apples and anything else I could get into, made my day.

Slipping down below their house to the little plum tree, My goodness, those plums were sweet as could be even when I had to shake the tree.

Even after I became a teenager I walked that little trail many a time. Just to sit, talk and listen awhile, brought so much joy to my heart and peace to my mind.

Sitting in that little porch swing listening to em talk about their yesterdays, really stuck with me and shaped me in so many different ways

Then after I went to work and had a little money to spend, I couldn’t wait to take them a present every now and then.

One Christmas in particular I bought Pa a brand new pair of Hush Puppy shoes. Christmas Eve was his birthday and it was even more special, he sure did love those shoes.

Of course I never left my grandma out, she always thought of me. I sure did love those cathead biscuits she kept in the little cabinet, I ate one every time I had the opportunity.

My girlfriends and I flattened out many a trail, since we walked quite often to the store. We surely did enjoy it and when we got a little money, we let the hammer down even more.

A few coins in our pockets, we’d run as fast as you’ve ever seen. That RC and Moon Pie sure did taste good when you save ye own money by working in between.

There wasn’t many hills and trails we didn’t manage to find and plenty of trails that wasn’t there until we came along and made our own kind.

And the pleasures of walking down an old dirt road, picking wildflowers and the smell of honeysuckles, and looking at my other little Ma’s roses that she planted and growed.

She planted roses clear across the country side, a legacy that keeps on giving. Every spring when I see those beautiful roses I think of her and it feels like a part of her is still living.

And my other grandpa I never had the privilege to know. He died before I was born but there’s a big part of him that lives in me, everywhere I go

I can hear his voice and see his face in that little gristmill he owned. I live on the very spot today where all of the commotion went on.

My grandpa’s not gone, I know I’ve wrote about it all before. He’s still alive today in my heart and the echoes I hear every time I walk out my door.

And his blood and grit will always run through my veins. His strength and determination became what I am today. I can still see him down every road, trail and lane.

 And there’s so many placed I’ve walked, especially to church with a whole gang tagging along, made me feel big, brave and strong.

Oh how I loved those night time revivals, they made me happy as a lark. Even though I was scared to death of those haints that everyone told about lurkin around after dark.

So many scary stories were told by so many of the older folks around. A headless woman, a crying baby, it’s no wonder we thought the booger man was after us every time our feet hit the ground.

One would think after coming straight from church after being renewed, we wouldn’t have been so scared of the booger man waiting to perch but that ole devil sure was crude.

We were all scared of our shadow if the truth be told. But it didn’t stop us one bit from being out after dark, we acted really grown up and bold.

Even on Halloween we’d walk a mile or two for one piece of candy. Now days kids doesn’t think walking is much fun and to be honest it ain’t to smart and dandy.

And playing outside was the only video games we ever knew. Sometimes  our imagination got the best of us and we got into trouble a time or two.

Throwing rocks and accidentally hitting one another in the head, knowing fully well we could have killed someone. We paid the price when we hit the bed.

It’s like the old saying, I threw a rock at my brother and I got there first and so did my mother.

And we rode an old bicycle without any brakes, flying through the air, brairs, brambles and plenty of snakes.

It’s a wonder we ain’t all dead but it was not meant to be. Kids being kids just curious and free but our daddy and mama didn’t agree.

My mama bless her heart, we just about drove her crazy sometimes. She once said, we wouldn’t have made it if the Good Lord hadn’t been looking down on us all the time.

But now when I look back upon it all and remember when, I wish a thousand times over I could do it all again.

Well most of it anyway, some I’d rather forget. Like the time I almost died trying out grandma’s sweet snuff, I might as well have been dead.

And maybe all the times I hit my brothers over the head with the broom. Nay, they deserved it and so much more. Especially, messing up the house after cleaning it. They never missed a room.

But that was just our way of showing that we loved one another. It may sound odd to some but we believed in looking out for each other. Of course we tried to convince our mother.

In all honesty, our dad and mom taught us right from wrong. We may not have had many material things but in our house God and love was mighty strong.

Our clothes may have looked ragged and worn, but mama always said rags are honorable as long as they’re clean and she made sure of that every wash day morn.

I carried many buckets of water from that little spring, filling up those big wash tubs on wash day and taking baths to keep clean.

Those big tubs had two handles, one on each side and we’d set them in the sun. It was a sure way of having warm water to take baths when the day was done.

We considered ourselves lucky since the spring was close by in the back yard. Some had to carry their water a lot farther and up hills, bound to have been hard.

I’ll never forget the little dipper that hung up above the spring on a limb. Nothing like a drink of cold spring water on a hot summer day from that dipper, it was a gem.
Especially after hoeing in the garden since the break of dawn. Running for that dipper of water and going in for dinner (lunch) eating them garden veggies fresh grown.

After a long day at school, a piece of cornbread and a little green onion straight from the garden tasted good. All part of an old country girl’s life and childhood.

Carrying milk home from the neighbors when we got without a cow.
We could drink a gallon a day and buttermilk too, if mama would allow.

I remember churning that buttermilk all day in that churn jar. Thought to my soul my arms would fall off. It took that butter a long time to rise to the top of that jar.

Awe, there’s so many things I could tell about. I feel like a queen on her throne, without a doubt.

And when the echoes start calling me back to my past, I listen and tell my stories fresh as the morning dew on the green grass. It rekindles my heart to go back to that wonderful, old past.

There's  nothing that I’ll ever forget or leave behind. An old country girl living in a country world where God hung the moon, stars and the sun out to shine.



                                             © Susie Swanson, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making Do





My mama came from a family of ten kids, two girls and eight boys. She grew up in a close, knit family that believed in working for ye keep and learning early on how to survive and get by. Many times she told how they survived the depression and made do with whatever they had.

Back then everybody grew their own food but the basics were hard to come by. During the depression they gave out coupons and they’d pick em up at the little local store. The storekeeper would hand em out each month according to how many was in a family. He always had to keep records of what he handed out for the government. He helped people out a lot too. They’d bring their canned goods in and exchange em for something they needed. There was always someone in need and he knew he would be able to get rid of it all.

Mama said most of the time they’d just get a couple pounds of coffee to do a month or five to ten pounds of flour, and a bucket of lard with their coupons. If they were lucky to get an extra coupon they’d get a small bag of sugar or an extra five pounds of flour. The flour came in cloth sacks and their mother saved them up and sewed them into dresses and shirts.

 Mama said that grandma would boil the same coffee grounds over and over till that coffee was so thin ye could see through it. Even after the depression started easing up and grandpa went to work for the WPA and they had a little more to live on grandma was still in the saving mode and kept boiling the coffee grounds over and over. My grandpa got tired of it and told her one day, now Sarie (Sarah) stop boiling them coffee grounds over so much. What ye doing, straining it through a white rag, you can stop now I want some real coffee not stained water. It was hard for grandma to change. She’d been in the saving business to long.

They always had plenty of cornmeal for bread since they grew the corn and grandpa carried big toe sacks to my other grandpa’s old grist mill every week. She said they only used the flour for breakfast cause they sure did love them cathead biscuits and gravy. There was many a morning they had to eat cornbread with their gravy cause they didn’t have any flour. Of course, cornmeal gravy and cornbread is the best eating around.

She and her brothers used to trap rabbits and take them to the little country store in exchange for some of the basics they needed. This was after they cleaned the rabbits up good and the head had to stay on them. My grandma knew exactly what the rabbits were worth by how many they had caught. He paid by the pound and she knew it. She’d make out a list of what she needed and send them to the store to fill it.

One time she and one of her brother’s that was the closest to her in age caught ten rabbits and took off towards the store with the rabbits on a stick and grandma’s list. On the way to the store her brother told her we’re gonna get us somethin good today. Mama told him, no we can’t cause mommy knows exactly how many rabbits we got, she’s made her list. He stuck his hand up under his coat and pulled out another rabbit. He said, I told you we’re gonna get us somethin good today. The only problem was the rabbit didn’t have a head. Apparently, while they were cleaning them one lost its head someway and he’d stuck it under his coat. The storekeeper always wanted them with their heads intact. He had a little shed over to the side of the store building that people hung their rabbits in.

When they got to the store and hung their rabbits they went in and told him how many they had and gave him their list. He walked outside and went in and looked at the rabbits from the door and counted them. He said, somebody’s counted wrong this time, you’ve got eleven instead of ten.
 Mama said her brother spoke up and said alrighty, we got enough to get us somethin good this time. The storekeeper told him ye sure do, so pick out what ye want. Her brother pointed to a big jar of candy sitting on the counter and said we want a whole, paper bag of that candy. He filled their list and the bag of candy and they headed home. The candy was chocolate drops and can still be bought today, especially around Christmas time and they’re rich as can be.

On the way home they eat the whole bag of chocolate drops and by the time they got home they were sicker than a buzzard. They started puking and they puked all night. My grandma didn’t know what in the world to think. She was up with em all night trying to clean up the messes and do what she could for em.
The next morning they felt and looked like death warmed over. When grandma seen they were on the mend she asked em what did they eat to get so sick. They’d been taught all of their life not to lie and knew if they did they’d be in worse shape than they already were so they told her the truth. She marched them back over the road to the store and made em tell the storekeeper what they’d done. He just stood there and looked at em for a bit and then he spoke up and said, well I guess they’ve been punished enough this time but it better not happen again.
From that day forward they didn’t take another rabbit without its head and they never eat another chocolate drop as long as they lived.


To say times were rough is an understatement but they survived the best way they knew how and mama said they never went to bed hungry a night in their life. They always had something to eat even if it was an old possum baked in the oven. I guess that’s why she hated the sight of an ole possum. Back then times were so hard they had to make do.

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2017

The above pic is my mama, her dad and mom, (My Grandparents). 
 Notice how tall the corn was. Blessings to all. ~Susie~

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yesterday's Sky






I am lonely for the sounds of yesterday
Wagon wheels rolling down a dirt road
Or that old gristmill in the distance
Grinding corn for many a wagon load

I listen with my heart and write it down
Everything is so special and worthy of
A story that lingers from yesterday
Is a life’s lesson with pride and love

I treasure that old run down barn
So many secrets and stories to tell
My yearning heart over flows
For these are the things I dwell

Upon that little hillside everyday
Where juicy strawberries grew
The echoes of small voices
Still sound so brand new

Or that forever old homeplace
Where silence was never heard
We were free as the wind that blew
And sailed high as any bird

Running through a green field
Playing ball on Sunday afternoon
Walking home from church
By the light of a full moon

Sitting on the front porch
On a hot summer’s night
Oh the joy of simple pleasures
Is never far from sight 

Sledding down a snowy hill
On a cold winter’s day
In one door and out the other
As childhood memories sway

Helping mama make quilts
Stitching every stitch in time
Windblown quilts on clotheslines
Blowing in early spring time

Those Christmas time memories
Awakens my heart with a song
They taught me the gift of giving
Love is the best gift I’ve ever known

We may not have had much
Of the finer things in the world
The many life lessons taught
Takes me back to that little girl

Still fresh as the morning dew
Old as my heart will allow
Like that old mule daddy used
In the spring he loved to plow

My muse is daily calling me
Down every hill and trail
It brings a world of comfort
There’s so many things to tell

Writing about my yesterdays
My inkpot will never run dry
They are planted in my heart
And still blue as yesterday’s sky

© Susie Swanson, 2016