Summer at the Stream

School had been out for a week but it might as well have been a lifetime. Everyone visiting Mrs. Green seemed transformed. Summer had its tasks and duties but change was good for the soul and Mrs. Green’s soul embraced it. Laughter came quicker, thoughts were deeper, and hope was in abundance.

It had been a wonderful week. Mrs. Green was drawn to the stream on Tuesday. The temperatures soared and the sky held the promise of cooling rain later in the day. The water level in the stream was high and the sound of the babbling brook was too much for Mrs. Green. The chores were put aside and she kicked off her shoes plunged her feet in the cold rushing water and lifted her hands to the sky in a thankful stretch.

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“The water weaving between the rocks and moss danced in and out, creating its own melody. The stream was always cold, the rocks always fuzzy green and covered in moss,  and the current full of glee.”

The stream had a hold on Mrs. Green. The water weaving between the rocks and moss danced in and out, creating its own melody. The stream was always cold, the rocks always fuzzy green and covered in moss, and the current full of glee. This small stream flowed with happiness, and Mrs. Green cherished the moments of skipping stones, wading feet, treasures found, and pure tranquility.

When Mr. Green came home on Tuesday and found the house empty he knew just where to look for Mrs. Green. That night they ate their supper out by the stream.  In the fall and winter Mrs. Green called it dinner, but spring and summer it became supper. The food was a little lighter, the hour a little earlier. They sat side by side and ate blt sandwiches piled high with crisp lettuce and thick tomatoes. They spit watermelon seeds and watched them flow down stream. They talked and listened to all the flowing water had to say to them.

Visitors came in and out during the week. There was an impromptu brunch by the stream on Thursday morning with fresh eggs cooked inside warm slices of hollowed out buttered toast. On Friday night no one would say who started the splashing but everyone ended up soaked, cool and content, eating strawberry ice cream and catching fireflies.

These events couldn’t be planned. They just happened. There always seemed to be just enough food to go around, and everyone felt better when they were sitting on a rock, with their feet dangling in the water, in the back of the lot, near the climbing tree, by the Green’s stream.

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Summer Begins With Carson’s Party

Carson had been making plans all week. They all walked up the path to Mrs. Green’s house on Friday night ready to celebrate the last day of school. They walked around the side yard past the willow tree, into the back yard and read the sign, written in Carson’s handwriting. It read,

Summer does not begin until you take off your shoes!

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One by one they took off their shoes. Juliette was the first to comply, once her mother read the sign for her. She tossed off her sandals and ran through the grass laughing and waving her arms like a bird. Mike, Steve, Evelyn, and Sue followed after her. They did not have to be asked twice. Mr. and Mrs. Green had already been given their instructions before the sign was up.  They helped Carson, his parents, and his sister Karen, who was home from college, set everything up way back in the lot and under the climbing tree, in their bare feet.

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Carson was excited. He was in his element as the leader of the night and gave everyone instructions.

“First you have to come over to the big cooler; my dad will help you pick a drink.” Inside the cooler were mason jars. Carson decided on two drinks for the evening blueberry lemonade that was ice cold and deep purple, and iced chocolate mocha with whipped cream on top. His mom made sure everyone knew Carson had made everything all by himself.

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Once everyone had their drinks Carson sent them over to the hammocks. In the holes in the netting Carson had placed big plastic cups. He had tied strings on either side of the cup so you could wear it around your neck like a plastic cup necklace. His sister Karen served big helpings of Carson’s favorite dish, macaroni and cheese with bacon. She explained,

“Carson wanted to make sure everyone was able to eat with their hands free so we can all climb up the climbing tree.”

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Everyone was so impressed and complimentary. It seemed to transform Carson. He was conducting an experiment to see if everyone noticed the gifts he knew he had within himself. Carson was very clever and a natural born leader. With the encouragement of his friends he took control of the evening like a ring leader in a circus, “Once you have your macaroni and cheese necklace come on up into the climbing tree.”

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It was quite a sight to see when Sylvia and Sam popped in unannounced. They saw dangling bare feet up in the climbing tree and a happy group eating macaroni and cheese with bacon out of plastic cup necklaces. Carson jumped down and served up two more cups and gave them each a mason jar. They quickly took off their shoes and joined the party.

After they were full and their thirst was quenched they felt a sprinkle or two. Everyone looked at Carson and his reaction reassured them.

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“It’s just water, and water won’t hurt you.”

Carson said it with such confidence the rain itself seemed to hear him and obey. The clouds rolled out just in time for games. The three legged race was hysterical, Mrs. Green could not stop laughing long enough to get across the lawn. Ampersand kept barking and running circles around everyone. Mike was the best at balancing a cup of ice cold water on his head. Sam was the champion of the water balloon toss and Carson told him he was allowed to go first in the dessert line.  The last race was a Carson original. Each guest was given a pair of black tights. In the bottom of each leg Carson had placed a water balloon. Carson demonstrated the game to great delight of his friends and uproarious outbursts of laughter,

“You have to put the tights on your head.” Carson placed the tights over his head and brushed the legs back over his shoulder as if he had two long flowing braids. The outbursts of laughter just egged Carson on.

“Now when I say go, run around the yard and try to burst everyone’s water balloon” Carson began to run and everyone joined him. It was quite a sight to see the group chasing each other in the Green’s yard with tights on their heads and water balloon legs flying everywhere.

The evening went on after dark with a fire by the stream, a multiplication sing a long and ice cream Sundays in more plastic cup necklaces. Carson was in his element and happier than any of them had ever seen him. Carson changed Friday night. His footing was stronger and he was reminded of who he knew he was all along.

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Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Down to the River to Pray

Today things came to an abrupt stop at the Green’s. School was out a few hours early and though music practice was not scheduled Mike, Steve, Evelyn, and Sue came to Mrs. Green.

There were very few words exchanged. Mrs. Green was not one for long speeches in sad times on sad days. Sometimes words pierced a wounded heart until it felt like it would burst into a million pieces. She looked at each of the teenagers in the eye and said one thing and one thing only,

“Find your voice, and speak up.”

They sang that afternoon in four part harmony in a way they had never sung before. The windows were open wide and people all over Howard County heard the heart of four teenagers trying to “find their voice, and speak up.”

Down to the River to Pray

“As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sisters let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sisters let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O brothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
Come on brothers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O fathers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O fathers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O mothers let’s go down, come on down
Don’t you want to go down
Come on mothers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sinners let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sinners let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way”

Carson’s Invitation

It was a drizzly Monday morning. Carson ran up to Mrs. Green’s house on his way to school with a smile on his face and an envelope in his hand. Mrs. Green greeted him with a knowing smile and a hint of borrowed anticipation. Carson quickly handed her the envelope and began running back down the walkway. He ran as if he was dodging raindrops defying the umbrella his mother put in his backpack. Over his shoulder he yelled,

“I hope you don’t mind Mrs. Green. I have planned a party, at the climbing tree, on the last day of school. I will take care of everything.” Just be there at 6:00! It will be better than Christmas!”

Mrs. Green laughed at Carson. She knew it was true. In Carson’s mind there was no better day than the last day of school. She opened the envelope and pulled out a card. Carson had sketched a picture of a bald eagle on the front of it. Carson was very good at drawing. Mrs. Green laughed. She knew Carson had chosen this because it was the symbol of freedom. Inside in Carson’s own handwriting it read,

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Meet me at the climbing tree on Friday Night at 6:00

Come Hungry

Carson

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fishing

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It had been rainy all week and Saturday morning Mr. Green wanted to go fishing. He had a theory about the rain stirring up the fish like eggs in cake batter. They drove to his favorite spot on the Patapsco River. It was quiet and the sound of the water trickling by made Mrs. Green so grateful she was on steady ground. She enjoyed fishing from a bench, watching Mr. Green and talking to people. She brought her camera and sat on a rustic bench made of old smooth logs, not so far from Mr. Green. The spot was a bit of a secret treasure for Mr. Green. It was off the beaten path. This made it extra special for Mrs. Green. She felt anyone who went to the trouble of winding down the overgrown dirt path and walking across the broken logs to find the special bench tucked away and on the Patapsco River must be someone special. Mrs. Green was almost always right.

Mr. Green was all set up and Mrs. Green snapped a few pictures. It was still very early and most people were still sleeping. She sat quietly and looked at the clouds rolling by. Then she heard the snap of a twig, voices and footsteps. Around the corner and through the brush came a couple. They were about the same age as the Greens. Mrs. Green instinctively moved over to the end of the bench. There was plenty of room. The couple smiled and sat down on the opposite end. They were very careful to give Mrs. Green enough room and she smiled and said,

“There is plenty of space. Make yourself comfortable.”

The couple nodded and sat down. They were from India and spoke back and forth in their own language in soft tones. Mrs. Green tried to be polite and look off in the distance. It seemed awkward to be in such close quarters when they were outside in such an enormous space.  It made Mrs. Green feel rather small and not quite herself. She was tempted to just sit and not say a word, and then she remembered who she was.The conversation started off with the weather and the beauty of the scenery. The more Mrs. Green listened the more the couple talked and Mrs. Green felt like herself again.

The woman told Mrs. Green about moving here as a young bride who spoke little to no English. She talked about their children who were out of college now and they were awaiting their first grandchild. Then she told Mrs. Green about her neighbors.

“We live not far from here. When we first moved in several years back it was a nice neighborhood but not very friendly. People got in and out of their cars in the morning and at night after work. They drove into the garage and before you could wave at them the remote button was pushed and the door came down and that was all you saw of them. Everyone was so busy. Then one day my husband said to me, we will win them all over. So we invited them. Just a few treats and drinks. That is all it takes. Some came and some did not. One neighbor in particular was tough. He became my project. We did not know his name. He came home and went in and got up and went out, day after day. Then one day I got his mail by mistake. I waited.  When the door opened that evening I was ready. I was in the driveway before he could push the button.  He stepped out of the car and I took a good look into his eyes. Not many people do that. They were sad. You know the world is full of great human suffering. You never know what someone is going through inside until you take the time to find out. I introduced myself and gave him his mail and just let him know we were just across the street. He responded to that little kindness and  told me all about his mother and how she was recently in the hospital and he had lots of relatives coming in and they were all going to stay with him. Anyone could see he was overwhelmed.”

Her husband leaned forward to see Mrs. Green’s face and said, This is my wife’s heart.” He pointed to his chest. “She is wise.”

The woman continued, “I told him if he needed extra space for his family we have three extra bedrooms and no one sleeping in them. His relatives stayed with us for a week. I prepared a clean room and a friendly face. That is all. You just never know what someone is going through until you take the time to find out.

At the end of the story it was time for the couple to continue on their walk. Mrs. Green sat for a long time after they left thinking and watching Mr. Green fish. Mr. Green caught several fish today and Mrs. Green caught some new friends.

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Creative Blogger Nomination

Wire Sculpture by Fantacywire

I am happy to be nominated by Til Turner (https://tilturner.wordpress.com/about/) for the Creative Blogger Award. I have found that blogging requires a good bit of bravery, humility, and vulnerability and yet the connections that are formed in this community inspire me to write on like no other connections I have ever made. I sincerely Thank you for the nomination Til.

As part of the nomination I have been asked to share five things about myself. I found it hard to limit myself to five things, so I lumped quite a few things all together.

I love chocolate, steak, pickles on sandwiches, cupcakes over cake, a really good new recipe, ginger ale, lilacs, butterflies out my kitchen window, Jane Austen, and writing the very beginning of a great story.

Now I nominate five other blogs that I highly suggest you check out.

1. Grandmothergarden.com

2. http://theyaugblog.blogspot.com

3. breezytulip.com

4. Deeprootsathome.com

5. http://www.simplyvintagegirl.com/blog

Gardening

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The sun was beating down on Mrs. Green’s floral garden hat. The brim was wider than a fashion model would wear on the runway and that is just the way Mrs. Green liked it. Her garden gloves had long sleeves all the way up to her shoulders. Mrs. Green had cut the sleeves from an old shirt of Mr. Green’s and sewed them onto the gloves. When she gardened she liked to get dirty past her elbows and that was more than most garden gloves could handle.

Mrs. Green was working in the weed garden. It was a section of her garden way in the back of the yard, on the left, near the stream. It was set apart for the prettiest and most cherished weeds in Maryland. Mr. Green wanted her to call it the wildflower garden but Mrs. Green wouldn’t hear of it.

Mrs. Green was adamant about the name. “A weed is tenacious, and bold, and forges its own way in spite of what people think of it. I love weeds. Besides it is the most beautiful garden in the entire yard.  If I call it a weed garden then that changes peoples expectations and perception and I love to change peoples expectations and perception as often as possible.”

Mr. Green would not argue. Once Mrs. Green had made up her mind it was almost always pointless to argue. She had thought it through more than anyone else had. So Mr. Green helped her plant Joe Pie Weed, wild strawberry, buttercups, wild violets, milkweed, purple wildflower weed, and dandelions. After sweating in the hot sun and hustling to beat the rain Mr. Green stepped back and looked at the garden. He had to agree with her.

“You are right, my dear. It is the most beautiful garden in the entire lot.”

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.