Thanksgiving Memories

Claire and Grandma BGrandma Betty and Claire

Author’s note: I post this picture of my Grandma Betty Spradling, and our daughter Claire, in its “doctored” form, taken and created by Beth Forester, of Forester Photography in Madison. I post  a similar version with no enhancements, to compare. It has circulated the internet often with messages of inspiration, and it has won awards for Beth. We released it for that purpose, but after its travels, I fully expect to walk into Hallmark one day and see it on a cup or card. Sitting here, turkey in the oven, I think about how much I miss my grandmas. Happy Thanksgiving, A.S.  

 

I will not lie, there are acquired tastes,

But not the beast you have to baste.

It wasn’t all about the food,

But the place, the people, and the mood.

Couches full of football fans,

The kitchen full of sisters and,

Children, running, up and down,

in and out, all around.

Mothers talking over coffee,

Pies aplenty, cakes, and candy.

It wasn’t till the second game,

Eyes grew heavy, jokes got lame.

The kitchen finally clean again,

Grandma sits, she can’t pretend.

A well-deserved break’s in line,

She smiles, her family satisfied.

Raining Deer

 

Author’s Note: As it is the first day of gun buck season in our state, deer will be on the run, and will illogically and without prejudice cross numerous roads and man-made barriers. I’ve been involved in a few collisions between deer and cars. This day reminds me of an event I witnessed probably eight to ten years ago…

 

WE INCHED FORWARD in our cars on the interstate, heading east, in a place where brilliant planning years before had three lanes of busy traffic, and a well-used on-ramp, merge to cross a two-lane bridge. Collisions were a daily occurrence causing even bigger problems. Today was not one of those days, and still we progressed slowly.

The three lanes heading west had no such worries. Traffic was sparse in comparison, but jetting off the bridge at a quick rate and in a speed-enhancing decent.

As I approached the high-alert zone, an adult female deer jumped off a hillside to the left of the highway with the intention of crossing the western lanes. She was beautiful. A feeling of dread overtook me because I felt her chance of survival was slim. Speeding cars shot by like bullets. That she made it across – a look of timid, anxiety on her face and unsure, frightened legs beneath her – was a miracle. Not a single car seemed to even hit their brakes.

She jumped the barrier to my side of the interstate effortlessly, and with the cars at a pace slower than the U.S. Mail, she weaved her way across safely, just a car ahead of me. When she crossed the shoulder to the right she again leapt gracefully and disappeared.

It was only when I was even with the point of her departure that I made a startling revelation. She had not jumped to the sloping safety of the green grass of the huge tract of land that was enclosed by the off ramp. She had jumped from what was — and is — an overpass. She had flown on to another busy secondary road, some thirty or thirty-five feet below.

The woman in the car next to me seemed to come to the same conclusion as we made frantic eye contact.

And as I continued to surge forward, starting only to stop, a few feet at a time, I tried to imagine what must have happened when she landed, if she landed on the roof of a car, or worse yet crashed through some unsuspecting driver’s windshield in her unfettered fall. I imagined the shock and fear a driver would feel.

But then I thought about what a deer must feel every time it changes its course, or stares at a body of drinking water across a highway and a railroad track, and wonders if it will ever be safe again.

Throw Us A Bone, Not Throwbacks

HERE’S a pet peeve about the NFL. It’s easy to have complaints right now. Mine is relatively small. The astronomical amounts of money being kicked around each week is constantly being rubbed in our face. Lord, Adrian Peterson had been paid $7.6 million to sit out this season up until two days ago. I personally believe his case is unwarranted overreaction to the Ray Rice fiasco, but these are entirely different issues. The multi-billion-dollar television contract is what makes all of these staggering numbers possible, and don’t think that we consumers don’t pay for it, every time we buy a car, every time we pay our insurance, every time we go to the supermarket or 7-11. You think there’s not a trickle-down effect on the Super Bowl commercials we laugh about? Guess again. I touch upon this topic in my upcoming book, The Long Shadow Of Hope (speaking of commercials).

No, what’s getting under my skin is the throwback uniforms. More importantly, the disregard for the cost of them. Who really cares to see their favorite team in those God-awful throwbacks? Nobody, I’m sure. Few at best. It might have been nice and nostalgic once a few years ago… ONCE. I was reminded of it again by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. And the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t wear throwbacks. In that scenario it seems even more ridiculous. Again this expense – outfitting an entire football team – is a drop in the bucket of their budget. I know that. Here’s an idea. Next time throwback Sunday comes around, put out a press release saying “We’re not doing it. Just imagine the vertical stripes this time around. We are instead donating that $25,000 dollars to our local homeless shelter or food kitchen, or for families in need, or for cancer research.”

I know the NFL gives. We pay them to do it. It looks good, and they need the image enhancement. And if you have to have throwbacks, go back to the tear-away jerseys. There’s no greater image than Earl Campbell’s jersey being ripped away by helpless defenders as he bulls his way for more yards. Of course then, somebody would have to run the ball…

Letters

Author’s note: Just a reminder that songs often resemble poetry. This is one of the first songs I wrote that was worth repeating. A.S.
       
Joblessness brings loneliness and creates a space of time,
And minutes turn to hours in the framework of my mind.
Boredom overtakes me as I look for things to do,
Trying to stay busy to avoid the thought of you.
 
I find some letters boxed up, in a messy closet shelve.
Letters linking youth to age and lovers to myself.
Letters ranging hundreds, dating back to early teens,
Letters that bring back those crazy childhood scenes.
 
Chorus: Letters that helped me get through college.
And letters from girls of loves gone bad.
Letters that made me miss the times we used to share,
And letters of the times we never had.
 
Letters from a girl I thought always was too young,
She’s grown up now and beautiful and happy on her own.
Letters when I stayed down south from a girl that I had loved,
Her innocence is reflected in the pages that she wrote.
 
Chorus: And letters from my big sis in college,
Her boyfriend he always sent them too.
Their letters always gave me the strength to carry on,
And the strength to find my way without you.
 
Cards and letters from the times I took some nasty spills,
You’ll never know the way the words from friends could help me heal.
Letters from a girl I’d met just once so long ago,
our letters cross the country but our paths will never know.
 
Chorus: And letters from the girl I thought I’d marry,
The plans we made a long time ago.
The schemes and dreams to meet at night and hold each other tight,
And if we could we’d never let go…
We thought back then we’d never let go…
As always we finally let go… 
 
© 1985 Andrew Spradling

A Salute To Veterans

American Flag

I’ve often thought about why I, my soul, my being, was lucky enough — blessed enough — to be born in the United States of America. In my book, The Lost Lantern, I touch upon the fact that being born in the last year of the Baby Boomers, ’64, there thankfully was no call of duty, though my friends and I registered for the draft on our 18th birthdays. But those who walked before us — our fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins — were heroes. All I can say for the freedom I enjoy, for my family’s freedom, is thank you.

The photo was taken at the St. Albans vs. Nitro High School football game, fall, 2013.

The Elusive Next Page

Writing fiction is not easy. It would be wonderful to sit down and crank out fifteen-hundred meaningful, thought-provoking, metaphor-filled words a session. But that doesn’t happen often. Really never. Too many distractions and obligations — while one task flourishes another suffers. I’ve read Hemingway used to stop writing at the juicy spots where he knew he’d be able to take off easily the next day. Of course I’ve also read he wrote a couple of his books in eight weeks, which is difficult for me to fathom. There have been times when getting through the next paragraph seemed impossible. And it gets tougher as frustration mounts. Where is this going? What am I doing? Must I re-evaluate my plan? What I’ve lived by thus far in this journey is to keep chipping away, keep plugging along, fight my way to the next page. Just get to the next page.

The Lesson’s Never Learned

Author’s note: As I said in “About,” this blog will include original song lyrics, which in my mind is often poetry. A phone call from a great friend yesterday reminded me of this song and his often-used quote, “There’s some things you just can’t dwell on.” That’s why, Derek Watson, if it is ever sung by someone other than me on the porch, you will receive half the royalties. Cheers. A.S. 

I’ve been thinking hard every night, worrying ’bout the way things might be,

Getting high with the fire flies, blending with the stars.

Trying to see into the future, wondering how I got so old,

And knowing that this little town can’t hold me.

Chorus:

But there’s some things you just can’t dwell on.

Sometimes you stumble and fall.

Some people must live and learn, and forget about the past.

But sometimes the lesson’s never learned.

All my friends they know what they’re doing,

They planned their lives in the right few steps.

But 9 to 5 and a wife and a home won’t do me.

Where do you turn when you feel alone,

When the whole damn world has got you down,

And you’re weary of the comforts of the bottle.

And the last thing that you want to do, is take the walk to your empty bedroom,

You tell yourself you’re not always so smart…

Chorus:

Mistakes are made fairly often,

Sins committed rarely forgotten,

Seasons change and life goes on, and tomorrow’s another day,

But the memories of lovers never fade away.

Lovers come and lovers go, years go by and dreams grow old,

And some of us are not so bold to keep searching…

But I’ll keep hoping till my dying day, to find what it takes to make me happy,

And pray this time I don’t let it slip away

Chorus:

But there’s some things, you just can’t dwell on.

Sometimes you stumble and fall.

Some people must live and learn, and forget about the past.

But sometimes the lesson’s never learned.

I’ve been thinking hard every night, worrying ’bout the ways things might be,

Getting high with the fireflies, blending with the stars…

Andrew Spradling, Derek Watson

© 1995