Tuesday, July 10, 2018

If You Pass Me By



                                Perhaps you'd call it plain
                                this simple house I live
                                nothing fancy to the eye
                                with plenty of love to give

                                I'm sure you wouldn't notice
                                the memories tucked inside
                                of so many happy years
                                with my family by myside

                                You might not notice the flowers
                                 in my yard nestled away
                                 or the pretty, little birds singing
                                 that cheerfully make my day

                                 Oh if you could only see
                                 the squirrels I call my own
                                 frolicking around at play
                                 outside my simple home

                                 The enchantment of a sunset
                                 each evening comes to call
                                 end of day's perfect show
                                 you may never see at all

                                 Perhaps you'd see me plain
                                 with simple clothes and worn
                                 overlook my grateful heart
                                 for the simple things I adorn

                                 If things are hard to find
                                 much like where you have been
                                 beauty lies within the heart
                                 close your eyes and look again

                                 My simple life of treasures
                                 is more than gold can buy
                                 you'll never know paradise
                                 if you pass me by                                                                                                                    

                                 © Susie Swanson, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Our Best Childhood Friend




I know everyone remembers a favorite pet or two while growing up. We were blessed to have several dogs and cats but there’s one dog that stands out the most. His name was Ole Mack and he was a full bloodied collie and smart as a whip. He was like a human in a dog’s body and instantly became part of our family.

He’d obey every command. If we told him to sit he’d be sitting there into next week if we didn’t notice but we never did do him like that on purpose. It’s just the way he was and so kind hearted. Every step we made he was there beside us. We used to pull the blossoms off of clover after it’d bloomed and tie them together and make a necklace to wear around our neck. We’d even make one for Ole Mack and he’d just sit there and let us put it around his neck. When mama called us in to eat we’d go running and he’d run beside us with his clover necklace around his neck. The first time mama saw it she said, “what in the world have ye put around that dog’s neck.” He was our best buddy and did whatever we did.

There was only one thing that scared him and that was thunder or the sound of a gun. Every time it’d thunder he’d run in the house and crawl under the bed. We’d leave him alone till it’d pass and coax him out. When we first got him we noticed that when my brothers or daddy grabbed the gun to go squirrel hunting we noticed the fear in him. We never did find out for sure but we always figured he’d been shot at before. We felt so sorry for him and he never did get over it.

Back then we walked everywhere we went and every time we’d start down the road he’d be right at our heels waging that pretty tail.
Daddy worked away from home a lot and didn’t get to come home till weekends if he was lucky. Sometimes it’d be two or three weeks before he came home. I reckon mama got lonesome even with all of us youn’uns round her legs cause just about every evening in the summer she’d say let’s go see pa and ma. That was her mama and daddy and they lived upon the hill as we called it. I later realized mama got lonesome for some adult conversation.

About sundown we’d take off to see pa and ma and Ole Mack would tag along till we got to the footlog where we had to cross the little creek and we’d tell him to wait and he’d lie down at the end of the footlog till we returned later that evening. We were scared to take him with us for fear he’d tangle with other dogs. After all, he was getting older and we feared he couldn’t take up for himself as good. When we returned, he’d see us coming and run across that footlog to meet us like we’d been gone forever just wagging his tail. We’d all bend down and hug his neck and tell him he was a good boy till I think he got the big head. We always tried to get back home before dark for fear of stepping on a snake, of course Ole Mack would’ve killed it right there on the spot. He was very protective of us in a good way and always watched out for us.

Back then times were lean and not to many folks could find work and some just didn’t wanna work, they’d rather steal their way through.
Mama always had chickens that run loose and they had their favorite roosts every night. Most of em roosted in the little apple tree that hung over the branch of water that run down by the side of the house. Mama’s bedroom was on that side of the house as well and she never had to sleep alone. One or more of us always piled in the bed with her when bedtime came. She was always a light sleeper and could hear a pin drop. Ole Mack knew where her bedroom was and he slept right beside her bedroom under the porch and it was cooler on him there in hot weather. If anything moved or someone came around he’d always growl or bark to let mama know. We always called him our guard dog .

It all started one summer night when a bunch decided they wanted to steal the chickens off the roost. Mama was halfway asleep when Ole Mack started growling and then barking. They grabbed a couple of hens and run after they heard Ole Mack growling and barking. Mama heard em too, but was afraid to go outside but she hollered at Ole Mack out the window to keep him from following em. She always said her being a woman she hated to go out on someone but if she had to she would. My oldest brother was big enough by then to use the gun but she wouldn’t let him for fear he’d shoot or get shot. But she didn’t have to worry about it cause the next night they came back.

Ole Mack first started growling and the next thing he did was tackle em. Mama and my oldest brother ran out at the same time and saw the shadows of em running fast as their legs could carry em and Ole Mack was right on their heels. They dropped the chickens in the middle of the road. On the way out the door my brother grabbed the gun and fired it straight up in the air. They run even faster and Ole Mack came running back towards the house so proud of himself. Mama said to my brother, “what’d ye do that for, they were already out of sight.” My brother said he did it more so for Ole Mack, cause he knew he was scared of guns and didn’t want him to get hurt by the chicken thieves.

Needless to say, the chicken thieves didn’t come back anymore. Mama figured it was a bunch that knew daddy was gone and could carry off what they wanted to. We really rewarded Ole Mack by trying to keep him in the house and feeding him anything he wanted as if he wasn’t fed enough. But he wouldn’t have any part of sleeping in the house at night.

Then one morning my brother went outside for somethin and he noticed Ole Mack wasn’t around. He called out his name and kept calling. We all went running out the door and joined in the search but no such luck.

We finally found him in the cow pasture later in the day and carried him back to the house and had the nicest memorial for him.
We buried a part of the family and our hero that day. Our hearts were broken and it was never the same anymore. He lived to the ripe ole age of fifteen and deserved his heavenly reward but there’s a place still void in our hearts today and we think about him often. I’m sure he’s up there where all good dogs go and having the best time of his life without any fears or worries about the thunder or loud noises anymore and running through the meadows with his clover necklace around his neck. Rest in peace Ole Mack, you’ll always be our Best Childhood Friend.


                                     © Susie Swanson, 2018

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Come Sit With Me



Come sit with me
Beneath the weeping willow tree
We’ll talk away the hours
In summer’s peaceful tranquility

We’ll watch the beautiful sunset
Sinking low over the horizon
Feel the breeze blowing gently
As the whispering branches liven

A bright full moon is shining
Casting shadows, oh so bright
What more could we ask for
On this perfect summer night

Come sit with me
On the treasured old porch swing
We’ll swing away the hours
Listening to the crickets sing

The fire flies are dazzling
A perfect summer time show
Smell the honeysuckle blooming
With sweet fragrance to grow

We can listen to the whipper wills
As they make that unique sound
They never fail to please
My home is their stomping ground

Come sit with me
At the break of a new dawn
Say hi to the morning glories
Hear the birds sing each new song

The roses are cascading
Around every curve and bend
Pretty flowers are covered with dew
The mornings so happily send

Apple trees are blooming in the lane
Oh how sweet they can be
Decked out in pink blossoms
Waiting for you and me

All the cows are in the pasture
Nibbling on the fresh green grass
Happy as can be in the sunshine
Basking in the warmth, in high class

Come sit with me
On the bank of the little creek
We’ll sip on a tall glass of lemonade
Then jump in with both feet

We’ll enjoy every moment of each day
The nights are wonderful too
Here in my simple, country home
I promise it will all come true

There is splendor all around me
The sky is big overhead
I live in a heavenly paradise
Oh what a beautiful spread

The taste of heaven is so sweet
The air is cleaner here
If you reach up your hand
On tip toe, heaven is near

Come sit with me
In my paradise home so green
This summer time country living
Is the best I’ve ever seen


© Susie Swanson, 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Down An Old Dirt Road





Old country roads remind me of walking to church come Sunday morning and walking back come Sunday night. They remind me of walking to the little country store with mama's list in hand. Those early morning walks to catch the school bus and walking back in home at end of day, stopping long enough take our shoes off and wade across the little creek come warm weather, is priceless.

The fresh morning smells of honeysuckle, wild roses, mountain laurel or crabapple blossoms drifting in the spring time air, or walking in those big snows that were knee deep in the winter, rolling in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other along the way.

Taking refuge under a big tree come a hard, summer's rain and still takin a wetting and loving it to no end. Then we ran through mud holes with our bare feet, busting em wide open, never thinking about getting the toe itch till it was to late.

Ahhhh, how can I forget the huckleberries and that sweet taste. We knew exactly where they came up and picked em fast as they ripened, along side the road.

And those delicious blackberries we picked for mama to can and looking forward to that fresh blackberry cobbler, all the while eating more than we picked. Never thinking twice about the chiggers or poison ivy till it was to late.

Climbing over barbed wire fences and ripping our clothes to pick poke salat for mama. She didn't take to kindly to the ripped clothes or the dangers of getting snake bit but the poke salat changed the subject really quick.

  Riding an ole, rusted bicycle around every curve and bend, with nary a brake knowing we'd hit the ditch or the creek. It's a wonders we hadn't broke our neck or worse.

And trying to outrun the others to get the mail every day and stumping our toes along the way. They never did have a chance to heal. When cold weather settled in and we had to wear shoes we'd still hobble down those ole roads.

I couldn’t count how many trips we made to and fro carrying gallons of milk from the neighbors when we were between cows, hungry for some good cornbread and milk to go along with supper, sometimes making a complete meal out of it.

 And how can I forget takin a few poufs off of a cigarette butt after snatching it outta the yard when daddy threw it down. Ahhhh, the sickness and turning green that followed, I'd sure like to forget and is still a reminder today. I said then and there, "never again.” Whewww.

It didn't matter the season or the weather, we made memories to last a lifetime and those ole dirt roads paved the way.

There's so many memories that still linger. I go back quite often and listen to the echoes of a childhood full of many seeds that's been sowed. How can we ever forget an old dirt road.

                                               © Susie Swanson, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

That Old Wooden Chair





 That old wooden chair was his favorite spot to be
Sitting in the sunshine in the warmth of the day
Looking out across the land he loved so much
It stirred up memories that carried him away

He always took pride in those big cornfields
 He plowed from sun up to sun down
There’s nothing left but underbrush now
Nary a stalk of corn planted in the ground

Those fields made good corn back in the day
He hauled many a load to the gristmill
Even if it took him all day in that wagon
On an old gutted out road, most of it uphill

He always tried to share his bounty with others
Everyone wasn’t fortunate to have a good year
Even the stalks made for good fodder
That livestock sure did make it disappear

There was always plenty of planting going on
Whether it be corn or gardens growing so kind
Had to eat come summer or winter
Everything was canned, nothing was left behind

Even before the harvest had time to come in
He thought about winter and what it would bring
He had to keep the home fires burning, or else
If the weather got to bad and firewood got lean

He’d been all over those mountains and hills
Cutting and snaking out wood, it was the only way
That old mule knew how to work hard
He sure could pull that sled on any given day

One can never have enough wood to burn
In the winter when the sun sets low in the sky
Back when he was young and strong
Work was a pleasure, he could never deny

He could still hear those cherished words
Come on home now, it’s suppertime
He’d grab a dipper of cold, spring water
A sure cure for a hot thirst every time

Sitting on the porch in that old wooden chair
With his sweetheart, wife and best friend
Meant more to him than anything in the world
Oh how he yearned to do it all over again

There’s that pretty little grove of apple trees
Been there many a year, and so content
She helped to plant them, they brought a smile
Even with their trunks so bowed and bent

Her pretty flowers still bloomed in the spring
He always told her she had a green thumb
More beauty than an old man’s heart could hold
He’d soon see her, she was waiting for him to come

Awe, it sometimes brought tears knowing
Time and circumstance had left him behind
Yearning for the things he’d lost and loved
 Made him feel like he wasn’t worth a dime

He knew his life’s work was over and done
Remembering those bygone days brought a smile
They sure knew how to lift an old man’s spirits
From the warmth of that chair, if only for a while

Today the old house is so empty and quiet
 Nary a sound but the mantle clock’s tick
Plenty of reminders in every nook and crack
Over in the corner is that little walking stick

The sun still shines on that little window seat
The little birds sing but there’s no one to hear
So much nostalgia and loneliness left behind
In the heart of that old wooden chair

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

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, 2018