Biography - Memoir
Como Park Conservatory ~Saint Paul, MN
Come have morning coffee with me...
Step through my back door and be seated in a comfy chair and tell me about what it is that is going on in your life.
I've not had a deck included with any apartment where I've lived since owning a house in 1978. Life's changes dictate priorities and the choices we make for convenience sake and city commutes to work. Extra enmities we enjoy, sometimes, have to fall to the bottom of our list. Living on Lake Harriet certainly is a wonderful place. Then the question arises, "What is important in one's life to make it easier?" A deck off my living room never was until this year. A long time waiting—open the door where I can remain barefoot! Sitting in the quiet and open air pondering the day or reading a book or paging through a magazine without carting a blanket to the park is a little thing in life, maybe. Simple things are the best of all.
Come, the door is open...
I'll turn on the light outside, the coffee is ready. We can watch the sunrise together. I can hardly wait to share with you what I see every morning at dawn.
Come, step....the day is breaking...
See? The colors show through my plants and these are the colors I've been telling you about. I never know what color the sky will be until I awake each morning. I open the door immediately for fresh air and step to an outdoor living style dining room. Through the branches of the trees a gentle breeze rustle the leaves, the birds sing and fly about, Bluebirds, Cardinals, and Canaries, but then it's mid August. I suppose they are not so active similar to us. People slow their pace in August too.
Have coffee with me...and a home baked sugar cookie.
Tell me now, about your happiness, your sorrows, and let's laugh and put our cares away while we listen to the birds, there they are, they are late with their songs. Watch the changes in the sky...I'll pour your coffee. Cream? Sugar? Gosh, it's fun that you are here to take joy of my deck's garden. The rocking chair? Oh, yes, I read my book on that chair. The hanging plants? Farmer's Market's the best place to buy plants. The neighbors passing on the walkway at the base of the hill straight ahead tell me how much they like my flowers. The Marigolds blooming were started from seeds; the packet was given me for Mother's Day by my granddaughter, Martina. They blend with the trailing vines and green foliage. Don't you think they look like little sun's shining? Bright is their yellow and gold and bronze and sturdy are their stems and leaves. Nothing seems to bother them.
While you enjoy your coffee and sugar cookie...
I'd like to share with you something my mom, Dolores, wrote. She listened chirping and singing of the birds in the early morning and wrote descriptive words of their sounds in a story. Mom liked writing. She spoke of her wishes to have experienced college often and said she'd have worked for a magazine publication or as a journalist if she'd had a degree. Now that I've become a student, I think on this and know her desire was with passion the same as my desire for college became. Mom married my dad, Carl and became a homemaker and mother of six children. She found quiet places, any time of the day, to write, but she never shared her stories until much later in her life. Mac and Eugene were our neighbors across the road about one hundred yards away when we lived on the farm. Collie was our family dog and was named for its breed. The tent was purchased from the Sears Catalog. You should see the picture of my brothers, David and Jerry, sitting far up in a tree on a branch, paging through the catalog. Well, I will share a story about that some other time. But, in Mom's story, the baby was my brother, Chris. In addition I have two sisters, Jane and Cindy.
Mom's story is verbatim and typed in the same font as her typewriter and goes like this...should I read it?
Would you like a second cup of coffee and another sugar cookie?
The morning air is crisp, we can listen to the sounds of the birds, but tell me how your children have grown and the things that are in your life. Wait a while with me, the quiet is enchanting and your company is pleasant. Watch how the sky has changed to a brilliant blue with nary a cloud and a sun so bright.
Well now, the birds are not shy, they like to play on the plant hangers, isn't that a Hummingbird? In and out of the leaves and flowers they fly and they might be listening to our conversation.
Tell me...what is it....
....or in the country
Mom — Dolores Marie Schneider
July 11, 1955
Thoughts On Paper
The rhythmic tic, tic, tic of my clock, and the easy, restful breathing of my baby were only two of the many sounds I thrilled to during my waking hours this morning.
I'd been listening for a long, long time to the house hunting song of the Wren. I heard it this morning. Two Bobwhites were answering each other's call in very clear, precise "boy meet girl" fashion, or perhaps their measured notes provided assurance to their small family that everything was alright. A Sparrow didn't seem to be faring so well, but at least twenty-five more had nothing to complain about.
Mueller's roosters hurried to serenade the new dawn and a Robin Stopped just long enough to tell me he was still the gay blade I always knew him to be, but not near so much to do these days.
Somehow, I thought I heard voices of my next door neighbors, or Marilyn and Jerry who chose to make the new tent their sleeping quarters for the night, but their Daddy assured me they were still in the land of dreams with Collie on guard just outside.
I took a deep breath and looked up to see a breeze lazily swaying branches of our spring pruned Maple and Elm trees.
Another Sparrow is trying ever so hard to put an idea across and the Wren seems to be in the vicinity of David's newly built Wren house, and Oh! What bird is that? If only I could see it! I'm sure it's not an Oriole, but I'm sure that it's a Canary. What's that Blue-jay squawking about?
Oh, well—the calves grazing just beyond the row of neatly piled fence posts and chicken yard don't care—but it's different with me! My knowledge of bird lore is so limited, but I'll figure it out.
I can't conclude this writing without mentioning that field of corn, much, much more than knee-high by now, as it stands in all its lush, green glory. North of the house is an elegant field of golden grain and a patch of potatoes like we've never raised before.
I could go on and on—
spring breaks and the snow melts.
soft, wet ground ready to till.
a new day dawns and it's...
Sunrise to Sunset
by Marilyn Clare
Radio days. Background music was playing. I think it was Johnny Cash.
Through the dining room window, fields of corn and oats and hay extended along the roadside, into the farm land, winding, stretching, tapering, and then fading into the hills beyond. There was work to be done. Farm culture's summer days began early before sunrise and ended late beyond sunset.
Pathways of rowed corn—a maze my brother, David, and I zigzagged through. Its rustling sounds tickled our ears. A game of it and the smell of it—above our reach were the tassels of it. Only when Dad or Grandpa bent it to our outstretched hand did we find pleasure in the silkiness of it. Golden dust clung to its long tapered leaves. They waved in the summer's breeze and flapped across our faces. Our skin glowed of it. We asked a curious question, why does the dust fall and what is the dust? "Its pollen, and it's for male and female plant reproduction, it makes ears of corn, then hardened seeds are planted in spring of next year," Grandpa said.
Dad and Grandpa may not have agreed a tractor and motorized plow should replace the horses. Two work horses, May and Dewey, at the helm of a wooden iron tipped plow was a day's work. Grandpa led the horses; Dad held a tight grasp on the plow's handles and followed. He thrust its knives into the soil with all his strength. David and I watched and walked the trenches barefoot, balancing our steps. Angleworms disturbed from their underground home were put into a tin can with a handful of loosened dirt for safekeeping. Great fish bait!
Walk and walk. Walk and walk. Grandpa led the horses, by their bridle, the length of the field. A deep breath catches rain-freshened air. Dad's strength kept the plow's knives deep into the dirt. Turn the horse. Turn the plow. Walk and walk. One furrow, two furrows, three furrows, back and forth, walk and turn, thrust plow knives into the ground until the field's fully plowed. Tireless, the sun lowers behind the hill. Cows were milked, animals were fed and Dad played Nat King Cole's "Stardust" on the phonograph at supper time.
Sunrise the next day the cows were milked. Grandpa loaded the seed machine with corn kernels. Together with Dad, rows plowed the day before, the field was planted. Each seed dripped to the ground from the planter at the push of a lever. Dinner at noon when the church bell chimed and then a break in front of the radio—Dad listened to the Milwaukee Braves baseball game.
Dinner with Grandma and when Grandpa returned, the field drag was hitched to the horses. Rows of newly planted corn covered and smoothed. I always wondered how Dad and Grandpa tilled a straight row and what was their guide? Where did Dad get the strength to dig the plow's knives to make a furrow?
Mom drove the car to the pasture above the neighbor's farm to bring cows home at suppertime. I rode with her. David was in the barn with Dad. We traveled one to two miles an hour; not paying attention to the herd of Holstein and Brown Swill' slowness, walking, walking. Tail wagging, Collie our pet dog followed and assisted. Collie was a Collie breed and we named him Collie. The sun dimmed. Cows were home in the barn.
David and I watched the grain seeds grow with diligence from their beginning stage of formation to a full-grown plant—corn and oats and clover hay. Little plants poked a first sign of life within six weeks, from ground level to our waist, to our shoulder. We tasted clover flowers, sat in their midst, and searched for those with four leaves. Oats pods formed, we tasted pods green in the springtime, we tasted pods tan in the fall. Dad cautioned of fertilized grains and not to taste too much. "It may not be good for people," he said. We did as we were told.
Early morning dew on the leaves and grasses glistened at sunrise. During the harvest season, field work began at mid-morning. Oats and corn were shocked and the bundles balanced together for season-end drying before storing in the shed. Stems cut close to the ground with a hand scythe, Grandpa and Dad gathered enough to equal several handfuls. "Tie with binder twine string, then balance two together end for end," Grandpa instructed. Each supports the other and stand straight upward," he added. He fanned the bottom of each oats bundle before standing two together in an upside down V. Oats stubbles pricked our bare feet. A third bundle against the first two. A fourth bundle against the first three, but side by side of the third, the same for the fifth, sixth, until a shock was made, not remembering how many bundles for a whole, but the shock was formed around in a circle. One more bundle, each end fanned and placed flat on the top. "A hat," Grandpa called it. It protects the oats from rain.
Oats shocks looked like little houses in rows, hats facing the same direction; we found an opening that looked like a door. We crawled in; no one could find David and me.
From their pocket, they pulled a red bandanna kerchief. The mid-day sun burned hot, sweat formed on their brow. A five-gallon thermos of water and ice cubes, kept in a shady place, cooled Grandpa and Dad.
The sun moved toward the west. Supper time and the cows were milked. The day blackened. Dad fell asleep in the rocking chair. On the radio, Jack Benny's show played. Mom turned the station to music, Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," David wearing his coon skin cap, and I played and built buildings with "Lincoln Logs"—one barn, one cabin, a tool shed, on the floor next to the radio.
© Copyright exclusive of Marilyn Clare, illustrations from the book, Missy Mouse Meets THom Elf cannot be used for duplication, or illustration, or print without permission in writing.