The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:26 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

“My Life with Dogs”

By Linda Barnette

From the time I was 7 or 8 years old, I have loved dogs. Both sets of grandparents had dogs, and I loved to play with both Birdie and Fluffy.  As an only child, I viewed the dogs as playmates and spent a lot of time with them

In any case, I was at my grandmother’s house one day when my dad walked in carrying a tiny brown dog. Although I was nervous at first and afraid I would hurt him, I soon became comfortable around him and took him everywhere with me. I named him Sparkle, and we were best friends. We played outside a lot in my playhouse, and he especially enjoyed exploring in the woods across the street.  He even liked to ride in the basket on the front of my little red bike.  In short, we were inseparable.

One day I went to a friend’s birthday party in Fork.  When I got home, my parents told me that a man who was driving too fast up our street had run over Sparkle and had not even stopped his car. Daddy had buried Sparkle in the backyard before I got home. I remember vividly going into my room and crying for hours. It took me a long time to get over what had happened.

My parents eventually got me another dog, and I loved her too, and actually, for all of my life, I have had a dog.  They are good friends and faithful companions.

At this point, our sweet dog Tipper is a senior dog.  When I had surgery in 2002 and again in 2015, she sat beside me in my recliner for several weeks while I recovered. She seemed to sense that I needed comforting.  She has taken care of us for several years, and now that she is almost 16 years old, we spend a lot of time taking care of her.  She loves hamburgers, and we sometimes fix them for her even though they may not be good for her.  She deserves what she likes at this point.

I feel that dogs have enriched my life for all of my years, and I am thankful that God made such sweet companions for us.

“Five Haiku on Home”

By Julie Terry Cartner

Smoke swirls from chimneys

Leaves in vibrant red or gold,

Autumn in the air

Chestnuts fall from limbs

Prickly pods encapsulate

Glossy warm-brown seeds

Icy cold water

Flowing from the hand pump spout

Splashing on my hands.

Sweet sun-ripened grapes,

Crisp red apples crunch, and juice

Running down my chin.

Red geraniums

In a black, cast iron pot

Memories of home.

“A Hike With Gramps”

By N. R. Tucker

Allen grumbled and pulled his collar up around his neck against the rain. Rain or shine, Gramps must walk every day. Of course, Allen said none of this aloud. He wasn’t that much of a fool. Since Allen was too young to have a summer job, one of his chores was accompanying Gramps on his daily outings.

Silence was the first rule. Gramps never spoke on their hikes in order to look for wildlife. It wasn’t like there was anything new to see. The trail by the river was Gramps’ favorite hike, and it was within a mile of their home. Allen swore he could walk the path blindfolded.

Allen kicked a rock that hit a tree, sending a squirrel scampering up to a high branch, chattering loudly. Allen grinned and turned his eyes to the river as they were coming closer to where a small stream feeds into it. Turtles basking on a log were a common sight, and Allen counted seven turtles. The most he had ever counted there. Allen heard the woodpecker before he saw it. Various perching birds were also sighted but no new species. Gramps was good at identifying birds and had taught Allen to identify many North Carolina birds.

When Gramps stopped, Allen did too, slowly turning his head to look for whatever caught Gramps’ attention. Gramps only stopped moving if he saw wildlife. Through the underbrush, less than fifteen feet away, Allen found what he was searching for, two does, and a faun. Allen and Gramps watched for a few minutes before they continued down the trail.

The duo passed where at least five heron nests resided in the same tree. Allen slowed to see if the babies were flying yet. They weren’t, but using the binoculars Gramps always carried, Allen was able to see a couple of little heads peeking out of their nests.

The sun came out when the rain stopped, gifting the hikers a rainbow that appeared to be coming out of the river. Allen stopped to look, imagining the adventures to be had if only he could travel by rainbow.

After three miles, they reversed direction and headed back toward home. When they reached the area where Allen had spooked the squirrel, he noticed a black snake hiding in one of the hollowed out knots with its head leaning out of the hole; hopefully, the squirrel was safe.

Allen and Gramps returned home. Part of their routine was that Gramps would open a can of soda and offer half to Allen. That was the best part of the daily chore as far as Allen was concerned. His mother considered soda unnecessary and only allowed it in the house for Gramps to have his one-a-day soda.

“How was the walk?” Allen’s mom had already laid out two glasses for the soda.

“It was okay.” Allen took a sip of the soda and smiled when the carbonation tickled his throat.

She placed her made-from-scratch rolls in the oven for dinner, and asked, “See anything interesting?”

Allen shrugged. “Nope, but I hope the squirrel is safe.”

“What squirrel?” his mother asked.

Gramps smiled and sipped his soda.

“Brain Exercise”

By Stephanie Dean

     Going back to school has become a habit of mine. Mental exercise keeps the brain sharp as I age. I enjoy processing new information, acquiring new skills and developing my talents. Most of all, the necessary focus needed when learning something new aligns my day, which increases productivity, promotes personal self- discipline, and reduces wasted time.

      Growing up, my family put an emphasis on education, but I didn’t like school much. When I started first grade, a newspaper reporter came to my elementary school to interview new students. The reporter questioned ten kids on their most favorite thing about first grade. Surrounded by quotes of other students’ love of school, his article in the daily paper quoted me too.  Asking me what I liked most, I replied, “Nothing. Except riding the school bus.”               My parents were horrified. All my report cards through elementary school were consistently marked for not using time wisely or practicing self-discipline. I was the classic picture of a bored, unchallenged student.

    In the middle of incredibly delicate teenage years, and following my 6th-grade year, my parents transferred me from the public school system to private, female schools where I attended  7th, 8th and 9th grades at one and then another from 10th grade through high school graduation. I became independent, well socialized and adept at making new friends, but was no academic success and lacked passion for learning. Recently, after reading an old report card of mine, my son asked, “Mom, how does one fail study hall?” Socializing. Even so, the question my parents posed was not if I wanted to go to college, but what college did I want to attend?

     When I went to nursing school after high school graduation, everything changed. I was finally allowed to study what I was interested in learning, and I’ve been motivated ever since. Sometimes I worry there aren’t enough years left to study all the subjects in which I have interest. The greatest surprise has come from acquiring interest in some areas I once believed I had none.

     Today, I’d be classified as a forever student either enrolled at the university level or through local learning programs. I teach myself through in depth study and research.  I still like riding a bus, a train, plane or anything else that takes me where I can learn something new. Whether a day road trip or weekend getaway, museums, art galleries, historical sites, battlefields, and cemeteries provide an opportunity for site seeing and learning.

Don’t ever stop learning. Take classes or find ways to reignite your passion, and quench your thirst for education by learning through adventure.