Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Rural Living

There are big cities and small towns. And then there are rural communities like mine--Angier, North Carolina. 

We’ve gotten a bit used to the idea that almost all of the restaurants and cafes close at two o’clock in the afternoon. If you’re hungry and want to stop in for a bite at three o’clock, you’re plumb out of luck. Some of the restaurants open again at five o’clock for the dinner crowd, but a lot of them don’t. This is true laid-back country living. Our best guess is that everyone takes a siesta in the afternoon because it’s obvious they aren’t serving food. You want a burger, go to McDonald’s, they’re always open.

Another way we can tell we’re in rural America is that there are fields alongside every road, all of which are in different stages of being plowed in anticipation of the growing season—mostly tobacco. You see John Deere equipment everywhere—on lawns, in fields, on the roads, everywhere. It’s evident no one here uses a push mower to mow their lawn; everyone rides a tractor.

Looks like the field across from our house will be one of the last to get plowed as it’s still a large expanse of green. They raised tobacco last year, what it’ll be this year is anyone’s guess. I’ll keep you updated on the planting progress. 

Rural living really hit home today when we stopped at a drugstore in the little town of Coats just south of Angier. Unlike Angier with a human population of five thousand--horses, cows and goats up the population number considerably--Coats has a population half that size. (But they do have a farm that sells delicious homemade ice cream!) Coats has two stop lights and if you blink, you’ll miss the town entirely. Coming home today from the bigger city of Dunn, (pop. 9500), we needed a product, okay Fixodent for dentures, and since we were driving right by the Coats drugstore, we figured that was as good a place as any to stop.

I entered the store, found what I wanted, and since there was only one tube on the shelf, asked the clerk if she had more in the back. She said, “No, we only stock one tube at a time, but if you want more than one, call us and we’ll order two or three for you and get it shipped here.”

After paying for the one tube, I walked out of the store laughing and shaking my head. What drugstore EVER carries only ONE of a product? Stewart and I laughed all the way home.

We definitely live in the country. Others can have the glitzy cities, I'll take our one-tube town any day.

Quote of the day: The country life is to be preferred, for there we see the works of God; but in cities little else but the works of men. And the one makes a better subject for contemplation than the other.  William Penn


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Poetry, The Song of the Soul

There are many forms of poetry, but today we’re going to talk about my favorite form, and also a dying art, rhyming poetry.

Some poems tell a story and some poems evoke a feeling. Consider the following poem by Robert Herrick, Upon Julia’s Clothes:

               Whenas in silks my Julia goes
               Then, me thinks, how sweetly flowes
               That liquefaction of her clothes.

               Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
               That brave vibration each way free,
               O how that glittering taketh me!

In just six lines Robert Herrick paints such a vivid picture one can almost hear the rustling and see the billowing of Julia's silk gowns. 

Here's a four-line poem, by Edwin Markham, titled Outwitted:

            He drew a circle that shut me out-
            Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
            But love and I had the wit to win:
            We drew a circle and took him in!

This poem has a story, contrast, conflict, and resolution, all in thirty-one words and you can almost skip to its beat.

Feel the rhythm, too, when you read these excerpt lines from What the Choir Sang About the New Bonnet by M. T. Morrison.   

            A foolish little maiden bought a foolish little bonnet
            With a ribbon and a feather and a bit of lace upon it.  
A structured poem rolls right off one's tongue.  The following beautiful poem, Jenny Kissed Me, by Leigh Hunt describes one poignant moment in time:
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in.
Time, you thief! Who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad;
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I'm growing old, but add-
Jenny kissed me!
Read these lines from Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and feel the rhythm:           
            Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five,
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Another benefit to rhyming poetry is the mnemonic value of making things easy to remember.  How many of us would know how many days there were in July if it weren’t for “Thirty days hath September….?”    

The following excerpt from a poem entitled Memory by Abraham Lincoln shows how words can evoke strong feelings.
My childhood's home I see again,
            And sadden with the view,
            And still, as memory crowds my brain,
            There's pleasure in it, too.

            I range the fields with pensive tread,
            And pace the hollow rooms,
            And feel (companion of the dead)
            I'm living in the tombs.
For a change of pace, using only four lines, John C. Bossidy aptly illustrates the snobbishness of Boston's upper crust in A Boston Toast:
            And this is good old Boston,
            The home of the bean and the cod,
            Where the Lowells talk to the Cabots,
            And the Cabots talk only to God.
 Such poetry, whether humorous or serious, literally sings to the reader and touches one’s soul.  What more can a person ask of a poem?

Quote of the Day: A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. Robert Frost