"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Appreciating Poetry and Electricity and Planting Trees

The gravel road we live on is always dark at night, and never more so than when the moon is new and not illuminated. But as we drove down the road under the new moon, returning home from a night out, the absence of any lights whatsoever began to register a warning. Even the scattered, always-on vapor lights of the neighboring farmsteads were extinguished, and the road grew ominous.

When we pulled in the driveway, we knew the power was out.

You wouldn't think that darkness would instill quiet, but it does. Maybe it's just the absence of visual stimulation that amplifies stillness to the human ear, the way ringing in the ear is more pronounced in the still of the night. We turned off the car and stepped outside. It was as quiet as a chicken coop after dark. When chickens roost they go into a semi-comatose state, like your computer on sleep mode. You can rest your hand on their backs when they're roosting and they won't budge. That's why chickens are easy prey for predators should they be stranded without cover at night. My mother says that when she was a little girl she would sit at the kitchen window after sunset and watch the chickens fly up into a tree to roost. She vividly remembers how they would ruffle their feathers and settle on a branch for the night. After raising a flock of our own, I know where the term “chicken” (meaning afraid) comes from. They are defenseless and very timid creatures. The fox would only have to stick his nose under the door and they would all die of heart attacks.

So the chicken coop dark and quiet was the norm, but the surrounding farmland dark and quiet . . . not so much. We found our way into the house and tried a light. It came on dimly. What we had was a “brown-out,” a low-power event which is extremely dangerous for appliances. Luckily a family member from down the road had thought to pull the plugs on everything, including my laptop or I would not be speaking to you now. I would be balled up in a corner as distressed as Blanche, Stella’s disturbed sister in A Streetcar Called Desire. If you haven’t seen that classic, go quickly and rent it! We watched it via Netflix because I wanted to see the young Marlon Brando in his sweat-stained T-shirt. Oh my God! He invented that entire James Dean look—the muscled, conflicted, brooding male. The film is in black and white, which makes it even more dramatic. It is definitely character-driven and dialogue rich, a literary extravaganza for the senses. But back to our dilemma.

Why is it that when you really need a candle you can’t find one, and when you only want one for atmosphere, they’re everywhere? Desperate, we stuck a couple of stick candles in empty beer bottles, like college days. All I needed was incense and The Moody Blues. But we went to bed early like pioneers not college kids. The next morning candle wax was dripped across the countertop, evidence of our fumbling.

OK, so April is the month for violent storms and watching classics. It is also poetry month and I plan to highlight more poetry on this blog starting Friday. I just got some good news from Steam Ticket a Third Coast Review, published out of the University of Wisconsin. A piece I submitted will be published in their 13th edition which is due out in May!

One more thing. April is also the month for planting trees and kissing the earth. This is a white pine. I kissed the earth with my shovel and watched another storm blow in. 
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Are you planting a tree this month? If so, what kind?

14 comments:

Matthew said...

I am not so much planting trees as trying to nurture two small cuttings. If they survive it will be a personal triumph - and may even give us some respite from the sun in a few years time!

Jemi Fraser said...

You have such a lovely way of telling a tale - hope all your appliances made it through the brown-out. :)

We're going to plant some trees on the school yard this month - we do every year for earth day.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Matthew!
Yes, it feels that way when you start them from nothing more than a twig. Spacing is what's hard for me, trying to imagine what they'll look like after we're gone.
Thanks for following me!!

Jemi,
Thanks! Yes, our appliances made it. Planting trees is a good experience for kids, so good for you. I think a lot of schools do that. It's probably one of the better lessons of April.

Liza said...

Congrats on getting your piece accepted. Great description of dark, er, I mean quiet.

Travener said...

I just planted three blueberry bushes. They're kind of like trees. What a nicely written post, by the way.

foldingfields said...

Will definitely need a reminder when your publication comes out so I can get it. I haven't planted trees, but I have planted seeds. It makes me feel like a golden goddess. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Congrats on the upcoming publication and your new trees! April is a fine time for beginnings.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Well, my dear, I have an unusual award for you on my blog. :D

Yvonne Osborne said...

Liza,
Thank you so much. I am pretty excited about the Steam Ticket acceptance.

Travener,
Thank you so much. Blueberry bushes? How cool! I've always wanted some blueberries and raspberries of my own.

F.F.
Why thank you. I certainly will. I think they said it would be out in May. Planting anything and nurturing it is a very rewarding thing to do. Goddess like!

Tricia,
Thank you very much!
Oh....I'm on my way over.

Simon C. Larter said...

Congratulations on the pending publication! Very well done, good lady.

We'll be planting our vegetable garden over the next week or so. Should be interesting...

rebecca said...

Stellaaaaaaaaaa!

Oh, sorry, I mean Yvonne, hehe!

First of all, congratulations on your submission! Yay!

Second of all, I just learned so much about chickens! Didn't know they flew to treetops to roost, didn't know their comatose state when sleeping, felt really saddenned they're so defenseless. :(

And, last but not least, A Streetcar Named Desire. *sigh* Tennessee Williams happens to be my favorite playwright.

I liked this post very much....it had a little bit of everything and all engaging....

Yvonne Osborne said...

Simon,
Thank you so much. Yes, it's time to get those onions and radishes and lettuces going. As if we all needed one more thing to do, eh?

Rebecca,
Hi! Yes, that Stellaaaaa! is so haunting. And the staircase and, just everything. Haunting. Next on my list is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

I know that sometimes my words get all tangled up and I end up circling around to find myself again. So I'm glad you liked this one. (And learned something about chickens!) Thanks for telling me so.

About HOPE said...

This tale was so well-written. I particularly loved the reference to Grandmother's story about watching the chickens. I've never heard that one before. And, congrats on being published. How can I get a copy????

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hope,
Thank you so much! You can just go to their websites. I have a link in my sidebar towards the top which should take you right to my stories. From there you can just print a copy. The two I have linked are strictly online. Full of Crow has a guestbook you should be sure to sign and you can "follow" Bloody Bridge Review. I also have a piece coming out in Steam Ticket's May issue(lit.journal out of Univ. of Wisconsin). I'm sure you can order a copy online. Thank you for your interest and support. Connecting with others is the bottom line.