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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Missing Prompts?

You may have noticed that I have posted a few of my prompts from my Nonfiction Writing Class.  I started with #1, then #2, but then I skipped to #5.  Did you wonder what happened to numbers 3 and 4?  Well, I did write them, but I am not yet at liberty to share at least one of those.  Prompt #3 was "Write a Memoir in Third Person" (which was a lot harder than it sounds!) Prompt #4 was "Write a Contemplative Essay".  I did write a very thoughtful and poignant essay which I plan to post at a certain point when I can do so without getting into trouble.

I'm sorry the prompts and essay numbers are out of order.  For any OCD blog readers who are going crazy because of my missing numbers, I apologize profusely!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Lyrical Essay (Fifth Prompt in Nonfiction Class)

Spheres of Sunshine

            The harvest was bountiful this season.  We prepared well by pruning trees in February and thinning fruit in May. So much time invested, so much labor involved.
            What was sacrificed in thinning made little difference at picking.  The fruit still hung from branches like grapes on vines.  The value of the labor is the limbs saved from fracture under the damaging load and in the spacing allowed each fruit to mature to its greatest potential.
            The ones left, those granted clemency, collect heat and light for safekeeping in ripening flesh under fuzzy skin. The thin peel gathering and swirling the colors of the sun itself, growing larger in size and more tinged by yellows and reds as the days of summer lengthen and warm.
            Finally when the fruit has absorbed all the energy of summer, we pluck them gently from among the leaves.  Set them tenderly into wooden baskets hanging from ladders.  Carry them carefully up to the house.  Select them thoughtfully, the ripest ones first to lengthen out the glorious period of eating them fresh with cream or sprinkled lightly with sugar.  Giving some away, but only to those who truly value  the most wonderful things that grow on trees.
            The tragedy of a ripe one that falls to the ground, bruised, broken; left to ants, wasps, and bees.  A whole year must pass before another will grow in its place. Even broken and battered, some are reverently recovered, ants brushed off, bees shooed away, and bad spots cut out to save the salvageable bits and pieces.
            Jars of jam, pints of nectar, and quarts of halves preserved on shelves like bottled rays of sunlight to carry us through the 11 months when fruit isn't hanging heavy, ripe for the picking. During that depressing period when those available in the market taste traitorously foreign. 
            A peach, the most appealing of all fruit, food of the gods themselves.  The sight of a peach ready to eat glows in an ethereal way; blushing deeply all the way to its pit.   The scent of a fresh, tree-ripened peach  stays in human memory filed under the most pleasurable of reminiscences.  And the taste of the last precious peach of the season must carry one through the long months of ice and snow; of scarcity and deprivation; of bare branches, stacked, empty crates, buckets and baskets; and the waiting until sunshine can be harvested once again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Memoir (Second Prompt in my Nonfiction Writing Class)

Federal Offences

The statute of limitations is now past so I can divulge details of a federal offence which occurred a number of years ago.

My mother rarely went to the post office, she usually sent my brothers or me into town to collect our mail.  One summer day Jim and I went together on this errand and found ourselves at the post office during the lunch hour, with the postmaster’s window pulled down and no one around.  We adeptly twisted the dial and clicked opened our mailbox, number 119,  the highest number located in lowest corner on the wall.  Then, because we were seven and ten and unsupervised, we started trying to open the other 118 boxes.  We discovered that if you turned the dial while pushing against the little release knob, you could 'feel' when the combination clicked.  The first couple of boxes took us several minutes to master, but within 20 minutes, we had 7 rows of 17 little, brass and glass doors unlocked and all standing at an 90ยบ angle to the wall. At that exact moment, Howard Hardy, the Postmaster walked in from his lunch break.

Jim and I knew we shouldn't have been messing around, but were shocked at Mr. Hardy's reaction. He was normally a very congenial, kind and soft-spoken man, but on this occasion, his face turned deep red, his voice grew strident;  he bellowed: "No one except a certified mail carrier is allowed to handle the US mail." Then he screeched:  "It is a FEDERAL CRIME for anyone to mess with the mail."  We pointed out we had not touched a single letter; we had only opened the boxes.  Our argument did nothing to calm Mr. Hardy or persuade him of our innocence.  His verbal tirade went on as he considered what to do with us.

After exhausting his voice, Postmaster Hardy croaked at us to close all the mailboxes, turn each dial at least one full rotation, promise to never, ever do that again, and sent us home.  Jim and I retrieved our own letters and started down Main Street with our heads hanging down and our feet dragging along the ground.  You never saw such a pair of contrite federal offenders. 

For the rest of the years I lived in Hinckley, I shirked mail duty whenever possible. When forced to do that job, I dashed in, grabbed it quickly and ducked back out hoping to not be seen. Even with limited dealings with mailboxes, my fingers itched to turn those tiny, brass dials.  I craved to open those little, windowed doors, but because of the pledge I had made, I never opened another persons' mailbox again.  Who knows what I may have become if a dedicated postal worker had not put an end to a terrible tendency?

Perhaps next time you are in a post office, you could thumb through those 'wanted' posters and if you flip back far enough, maybe you’ll come across the yellowing, tattered page with 10- and 7-year-old faces of the federal mail criminals who broke into over a hundred mailboxes in their scandalous career one summer day in 1972.