My strongest memory of a snowy day . . all alone . .

     Here is something I wrote several years ago when a memory returned to me and I wanted to put it into words.  As I read them now I relive this experience as if it happened yesterday.  Yes.  It was yesterday that I was this young, wasn’t it?    

                                                                                                                         

                                              COMMUNICATION 

        At any moment, on a certain kind of late winter day, I find myself back in 1939 on a mountain of snow in Iowa, where a  young girl shows me her world and inspires me again with the love she hoped I would never forget and horizons she hoped my voice would reach.         

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Beverly and I were convinced we were in such attunement that we could communicate non-verbally from anywhere we happened to be . . that we could surely read each other’s thoughts.   Had we not met on our very first day of school and ridden the school bus together all these years, shared  our secrets, crowded our Saturdays and warm summer days with hiking and biking and  overnight giggles?

Until we could practice and refine this mental telepathy, however, we planned to  try communicating verbally across the two miles that separated our farm homes.  We remembered a recent gray, foggy day when the air hung dense and humid and sounds of cows carried clear from the meadow.  Surely our voices would carry as well, and we agreed to be on alert for such a day.

It  came.  We were almost buried in three days of heavy snow.  Monster drifts tied the house to the barn in long, white ridges.  The lane was closed, filled now with deep rolling sculptures,  and no school bus came.   Mid-afternoon the wind died down and  fog set in with a moving of warm air against the cold.  A hint of spring was in the softness of its touch, yet the snow banks remained firm, packed now with a hard crust.    The sky seemed close to earth and sounds were hollow.  It was a weird and wonderful day. . . exactly the kind we had waited for . . and Bev would remember.  I called her on the wall telephone (two shorts and a long), and we agreed upon 4:00 oclock.

I bundled up, donned my snowpants and boots, took my Big Ben alarm clock,  and climbed the enormous drift that filled much of the space between the house and the barn. The crest was blown smooth and  flat  and I  walked the length, testing its strength and looking for the highest spot  with a clear shot for sound between the trees.  From here I could look straight across to the roof of the barn, I could look downhill upon our house.  I called out a few words.    I gave a shriek, then a laugh, and they were magnified just as I had expected they would be.  The stage was set, conditions were perfect, and it was four o’clock.

The fuzz from my mittens tickled my nose and I sneezed.  I took them off and called hello to Beverly. Was that a sound in return?  Was it Bev or was it my echo?  Had we called at the same time?  I put  my mittens  on and waited patiently for her to call to me, but there was silence, not even the sound of a dog barking or a cow mooing.  I experimented then with yodeling sounds and then with words ARE YOU THERE?

Mom came out into the yard and shouted up to me, “What on earth are you doing?”

“I’m all right, Mom,” I hollered back.  “I’m communicating.”

“Who are you communicating with?”

“Beverly.”

“You just communicated with Beverly on the phone not more than half an hour ago.  How about you come in the house and communicate with the dust cloth?”

“Yeah, Mom, in a minute,” I said,  and when she shut the door again I thought to myself, “Oh, it is delicious, absolutely delicious up here all by myself.”

The colorless sky seemed to meld into the snow-covered ground below it.  There was no horizon.  Everything was covered with snow, so nothing stood out to catch my eye.  It was just one big soft white mushy world of wonderful feelings, and I began to sing.

“Little Sir Echo, how do you do?  Yoo hoo.  Yoo hoo.”  It was a song I had heard on the radio and as I sang it now my voice echoed back to me from all the buildings around – the large red barn, the machine shed, the grain bin, the chicken house, and of course the fringe of maple, oak and walnut trees that framed the farm.  It was like singing into a microphone from a large stage, and I imagined that the whole world was listening.

I went on to sing “The music goes round and round, OH-oh, OH-oh, oh-OH, and it comes out here.”  I held my arms up, as I paraded the length of that gigantic drift, and I fingered the notes with little warm fingers inside my mittens.  “Oh, you push that first valve down . . and the music goes round and round . . . da-da-DAH-dah, da-DAH, and it comes out here.”  I hit the DAH with a hoarse throaty sound and a swish of my narrow hips.

It had begun to snow, quietly, moist flakes sticking to my eyelashes.  Purple dusk set in and closed around me with the blanket of its awesome stillness. One yellow bulb glowed in the barn as the cows filed in for the evening milking and I saw my dad, a pail in his hand, leaning in the doorway for a moment, listening.

I stopped my prancing,  stood on that mountain and sang from my heart, for the world to hear, all the way through the songs that began  “Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word. .”,   “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,” and “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses (Ohh, he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own “. .), and worked through to a patriotic finish with My Country Tis of Thee, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (even though I didn’t know all the words), and finally, “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain . .”  Lost in the echoes, my voice became a choir, and for what seemed like hours I sang with myself and “we” sang for the world. We sang all the love that I felt.  My heart was swelled to bursting.    Mom stepped out of the kitchen once, listened for a moment, then smiled and went back in.

I had forgotten about the dustcloth.  I had forgotten about Beverly.  But I had not forgotten about communicating.  It was a good day for that.

– Doris Markland

SNOW VACATION

There are reasons why we have mixed feelings about the snow. Snow is pretty (until it blocks the driveway, holds up traffic, stops the mail delivery). Snow is ugly when it’s so high you can’t see above it, when it melts and then refreezes, when it traps your car . . especially with you in it.

But to the kids snow is always beautiful. Not only to look at and to play in, but to thank for a day . . or maybe many days . . at home and free from school.

I wrote about that a few years ago, I think,  for Looking Back magazine.
Here it is:

Snow Vacation

I remember mornings
When the window panes were white
With snow that fell and frosted
Into crystals overnight,
And mother calling up the stairs
“There’ll be no school today”
And then the rush to all decide
What we should do . . and play.

First, I’m sure, there were some chores,
And then began the fun.
Rook was great, and Authors too,
But when those games were won
We set up for Monopoly,
A game we loved to play
And it’s well named because it did
Monopolize our day.

We popped some corn,
And as we munched
The scent began to rise
Of peanutbutter fudge our Mom
Had cooked for a surprise.
Oh what carefree hours we spent
Because we didn’t know
When we grew up we’d be the ones
To shovel all the snow.

– Doris Markland

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY FRIENDS

I haven’t forsaken my blog. I’ve just hit a snag because I can’t get pictures to download here, suddenly. Just comes up as numbers and letters instead of my picture. I am seeking help.

Meanwhile, Christmas has come and gone so fast. I have travelled and settled in for the winter in a delightful place where the sun is warm and the breeze is cool. That’s why I need pictures, and hope I can bring you some good ones once I get my problem solved.

I hate the word BLOG. I think it turns people off. I know when I ask someone if they would like to visit my blog it’s like saying “try my blah-blah-blah.” Or my blurp. Or ugh. Or something distasteful. I must think of a different word to use, even if everyone else says “blog.”

Suggestions are welcome. See you soon right here. – D. M.

CAPTCHA THE INTRUDERS

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CAPTCHA THE INTRUDER

Maybe you like to play a certain game online but you can’t enter the game room until you prove that you’re a human.  Yes, that is the criteria.  It is like peeking into a small round window in the door of a 1920’s saloon and telling a goon “God sent me.”

The goon in this case is Captcha.  Wikipedia says that Captcha is a contrived acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart.  Honest.  I’m not kidding.  But to me Captcha sounds a little like Gotcha.

So when you sign into your game room, with your password of course, letters and numbers pop up and you must type them into another box.  Apparently typing is something a computer can’t do.  So here’s where we sort the men from the boys . . or the real people from the wannabees.  And your high school record of 100 words per minute (errors discounted) does not impress.  There can be no errors.  If you type it wrong the door slams shut and you feel like a contestant on the Gong Show.

If you can’t do anything else in your whole life you can at least be human.  If you fail that test, well heaven knows what comes next.

But let me tell you why it’s a hard test to pass.  Sometimes the letters and numbers that pop up are all different sizes and they overlap or look like they’ve been smashed by an anvil so that a 2 looks like an S (or is it a Z?) and c followed by an I makes a d, or an I followed by a 3 looks like a B . . or is it 13?  Who knows?  Three or four tries, maybe seven, and the door finally opens.  You’re in.

It makes you feel shady, but at least you know you’re still human.

Now about the other jokers who line up to share your monitor’s screen, there are many.  I think we’ve finally gotten rid of the little paper clip guy . . you know, Mr. Clippit, who used to pop up in the corner of your screen and say “It looks like you are writing a letter,” and you said, “Well, duh.”  He had no idea what you were doing.  He was like a two-year old who wants to help you make pancakes.

So we put him away, but I used to think Clippit may be an omen of Big Brother or otherworldly things to come.  I could see him morphing into a Hal, popping up to say “It looks like you are writing a dirty joke.  May I clean it up for you?” or “It looks like you are writing a recipe.  Can I stay for dinner?” or “It looks like you are wiring money from your bank account.  I will complete the transaction for you.”

Uh huh.  We are not so dumb, you know.  We are humans and we can prove it.

But now you will have companies or individuals popping up on your screen wanting to manage your debt, consolidate it, eliminate it.  Or, if you like being in debt, they will loan you more money to squander.  There are those who offer cheap drugs, failproof diets, a harmonious mate and a prolonged and perfect sex life.  LOL.  I repeat, LOL.

Computers are wonderful.  They bring the world to us.  And they teach us how to keep the world out.  Just download a  tech goon or two to watch your door so no one gets in . . unless they can prove they are humans listed in your book of life.

– Doris Markland