Today’s Poetry Post

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I PICKED MY PEN AND STARTED WRITING

i laid aside my swords and i sold my guns
i purchased a choir robe
i donned mantles of shepherds
peace now my motto, peace now my song

i picked up a pen and started writing
i wrote poems, prose and memoirs
then i laid the pen down
something wasn’t quite right
i picked up my glasses
and i began to read

i read books, i read journals
i read magazines, i read ezines
i read online, i read offline
my appetite was voracious
i read before dawn, i read after midnight
and then i journeyed

i journeyed on trains, ships and planes
i crossed state lines, i traversed provinces
i island hopped, i jumped
from continent to continent
finally after many years, after many days
after many hours, after many moments
i closed the covers of my books, my journals, my zines
and laid them down

and i picked up my pen and i began to write again

Jerry’s Patio Garden – My Vines are Spreading!

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This week’s picture: my vines are a spreading!

2016 update

My one pot of cucumbers are coming along! I expect those flowers to bloom soon!

Back to my childhood garden in 1966

It was late May and school would soon be over! Those flowers on the vegetable plants, that show up first, were blooming all over the bloomin place! I was happy though. According to my uncle, this meant progress. It also meant that it was time to break up some more cow chips, crush them up and spread the fine crumbles into the soil. Cow chips, you say? Cow manure, most times, resemble large round flat shaped chips, hence the term cow chips. They made great fertilizer and that is all I am going to say on that subject!

Moving right along! It was also time to pull up more weeds from my garden! I learned that gardening is more than just planting veggie seeds. There was constant maintenance as well. Between hauling water, chopping wood, homework and gardening, my childhood agenda was quite full.

Nevertheless, there was time for recreation in the rural south too. We played stickball, we played dodgeball and we played hide and seek. Again, I was a fourth grader and I enjoyed playing much more then I enjoyed work, just like any other fourth grader. I got into a little hot water during one episode of hide and seek. It all had to do with Carla Simpson. Carla was in 3rd grade. She was cute, shorter than me, very quiet yet quick of wit -especially when it came to giving me well deserved grief for some of my childish mischievous ways.  Most of all however and in my mine at the time, the mostest beautiful girl in the world.

We were in a hot and heavy game of hide and seek. The forest area, commonly referred to as “the woods” were always off limits to us elementary school kids. Saturday afternoons in the woods were reserved for the Junior and Senior high schoolers of the rural south. Anyhow we had plenty places to hide in, and I chose a spot behind an old 58 Chevy that was no longer running and sitting on top of four concrete blocks. I was tired on that day and really did not feel like searching hard for a hiding place. Nonetheless, I was having great fun. It was like I was hiding in plain sight. All the first graders, all the second graders third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders were out there and they all passed right by me without noticing me. All except Carla Simpson. She found me. Immediately, we began to throw verbal jabs at each other. “It figures” she snapped, “that you would find the easiest place to find you.”

“It figures you would be the only one to find me”, I responded.  We both were looking at each other and smiling as we taunted each other with barbs.  The more we taunted, the closer we became until finally, out of nowhere, we leaned toward each other and kissed.  It was just a light peck of the lips but electrifying for a moment.  Until.  “Ooooh, Ooooh Jerry kissed Carla!”  I heard from the chorus of voices right behind us!  “We are going to tell!  We are going to tell!” A few of my cousins and a few of the neighborohood kids who were running around during the high intensity high and seek game suddenly came upon us as we were pecking each other on the lips.  Now in retrospect, we kissed each other but the neighborhood kids interpreted the whole thing as me kissing Carla.  “Jerry kissed Carla!  We are going to tell!  We are going to tell! was the resounding chorus over and over again.  Carla was long gone by the second stanza of that chorus and I finally walked away towards “the woods”.

I figured that I was in hot water.  They would surely tell my mother, who just happened to have just arrived from the big city of Greenville.  (at least it was big in my eyes at the time, i would learn later in life that it was quite small).  My family had moved back to the big city after having spent a few years in the rural area outside of Columbia.  I was left with my aunt just to finish out the school year.  My mother had come down from Greenville for a few days to take care of some business.   There was no telling how she would respond if the neighborhood kids told her what I had just done.

I was in the woods looking for what my parents called a hickory.  A hickory was a small switch that some parents in the south used to enforce discipline, correction and mild punishment for misdeeds of children.  The less proper term was called a whipping.   The switch was a very thin, long twig from a bush with the leaves pulled off of it.  A whipping from a loving parent was mostly a mild stinging that hurt your feelings more than it did your flesh.

I was now in the woods, searching for the largest hickory I could find.  I found a small branch.  I did not bother to strip the leaves off.  I left the woods and walked straight to the house into the kitchen where my mother was stripping some collards from their stems.  I threw the rather large hickory on the table, looked at her and said, “Beat me now”.  My mother, stunned, looked at me and asked, “What?”  “Beat me now”, i said again.  “Ok, boy you need to tell me what this is all about”, she said as she glared at me.  “Beat me now”, I persisted.  “Child”, she responded, “you getting on my nerve! What is this about?”

“I kissed Carla”, I said.  For a brief moment there was a glint of a smile on my mother’s face.  She picked up the miniature tree limb, broke it in two and threw it into the wood pile and then said to me, now really smiling, “Boy get out of here before I kill you.”   ….and off i ran, hearing her chuckle in the background.

Stay tuned this weekend for the next chapter of “Jerry’s Patio Garden”.

 

 

 

 

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Jerry’s Patio Garden – The Soil Report

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Today’s Picture – Status for my 2016 Patio Garden:

It has been close to a month since planted my seeds.  After my cucumbers sprouted, I split the sprouts into 3 separate pots.  The plants in pot #1 (the pot on the left) are still sprouts.  They have not grown at all.  The plants in pot #3 (the pot on the right) sprung up immediately, but their growth seemed to have stalled.  The plants in pot #2 (the pot in the middle) are thriving.

I believe i know what the problems are with the plants in pot #1 and the plants in pot #3.  The problem with pot #1 is probably due to issues with the transplant of the sprouts.  I botched the transplant.  I lifted the sprout out of the original pot with my small hand shovel.  I, clumsily, dropped the shovel and the soil and the sprouts scattered everywhere.  I tried, clumsily again, to gather the sprouts and the soil together by scooping everything into my hands and moving them into the larger pot.  I do not think that my salvaging efforts really salvaged anything.

I believe that the problem with pot #2 is all about the soil that i chose.  The soil in pot #2 was the same soil that i used for a squash plant that i planted  in 2014.  I thought the soil would be okay to re-use.  As i look at the result i realize that my choice of re-using the soil was not such a good idea after all.

Back to the Days of My 1966 Garden:

My Soil Report Rated Poorly

It was a Monday in early May 1966.  The weekend was over.  It was time for school again. Fourth grade was such a drag.  Especially on this day.  First, my teacher posed the question to the class:  “Who do you think is the best student in the class?”  This would be my first life lesson in humility.  I had the best grades, i was class representative of the 4H club.  I never caused any trouble in class.  Surely, it would be me, i thought.  So did many other class members.  “Jerry”, was the overall response.  Even those who did not like me at all chimed in as well.  “No.  It is not Jerry”, Mrs. Warren responded immediately, to both my heartbreak and to my surprise.  “It’s Henry Cromartie”, she said, continuing.  I understood, even at my young age.  My school had just finished a major construction project.  Construction on brand new buildings had just finished.  All students would be in the new building in the next school year.  The move procedures had already begun in the current year.  Henry helped Mrs. Warren pack boxes everyday and he carried the boxes to the storage room where they would await final transfer to the new classroom building.

If the early morning disappointment to my young boy ego and pride was not enough, the after-lunch disappointment was the icing on the cake for bruising my self-esteem.  The 4H lady was back and she had our soil reports.  We assembled in the cafeteria.  I sat in the front.  I was the class representative and I was very proud.  I could not wait for the report.  it would make my day end very well –or so that is what i thought.  She called out the top 10 students, whose soil report rated the highest from tenth place to first place.  I did not hear my name from place number ten to place number five and i became excited.  I felt that i had made it into the top five.  I winced when Henry’s report made fourth place.  Finally, third, second place names were called.  At this point I began to be concerned.  Finally Michael Stewart’s name was called out for first place.  My heart sunk down, down, down.

The assembly was dismissed and everyone went up front to receive their own soil report results.  My soil rated as one of the worst samples that were submitted.  Later, after a not such a good day at school and long after arriving home, I showed the report to my uncle when I returned home.  He asked me, “Where did you get your sample from?”  I said “in the back yard, on the other side of the wood pile” –opposite side of where the garden was plant.  “You should have selected your soil from the garden area”, my uncle said.  “…that soil is treated with lime and manure”, he continued.  “You should have taken your sample from there”, he finished as he walked away.

Dejected, i sat.  That was 1966.  Seems like in 2016, i still haven’t learned much about the folly of taking shortcuts.

See you at next week’s blog.

Jerry’s blog about growing up in the rural south is based on many actual events and many ways of life.  Many of the people appearing in Jerry’s blog are somewhat fictionalized and names are fully fictionalized

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