The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 10:11 am Thursday, August 18, 2022

Johnny Jump Ups

By Julie Terry Cartner

“No, we’re not allowed to go outside the fence,” Carson said with a scowl. “You know we’re not. It’s not safe.”

“But what if…” Johnny began before being drowned out by his older brother again.

“What if, what if, what if…” is that all you know how to say? “Sometimes,” Carson said, “sometimes you just have to do what you’re told, and Mom said it was my job to keep you safely in the yard.”

Johnny sighed. He hated fences. He hated rules. He hated boundaries. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

That night, after Mother tucked him in bed with her usual kiss, hug and I love you, Johnny couldn’t sleep. Finally, around midnight, he got up and looked out the window. The full moon, high in the sky, created a path to his window, inviting him to open the sash and slip out. Holding his breath, Johnny silently raised the window and leaned out into the beckoning moonlight, his eyes growing wide in delight. From his window, he could see the oak barrel overflowing with Johnny Jump Ups, his favorite flowers. But as he watched, he realized something was very different. The flowers were dancing. Not just waving in the breeze, the flowers were whirling, twirling, and cavorting inside the barrel.

Trying not to make any sound, Johnny slid one leg, and then the other over the window sash, then lowered himself to the ground. The flowers, oblivious, continued their dance, and Johnny watched, entranced. He wanted to join them in their abandon as much as he’d ever wanted anything in his life. Then suddenly, it happened. His face turned purple, his eyes yellow, and his body, a slender green stem. Arms and legs became leaves, and, just like that, he was in the barrel dancing with the others.

Now, up close, he could see that each flower had a face, and their eyes danced with merriment. “Come on, Johnny,” they called, “dance with us!” And so, he did.

As the soft moonlight glowed in the sky, more and more dancers crowded the barrel. Johnny realized the flowers were tiny fairies. They called to the fireflies and the dragonflies who joined in the fun as crickets played percussion and praying mantises played fiddles and guitars. Glowing wings, sparkling eyes and laughter filled the air. Johnny found himself pirouetting with the flowers and leaping with the dragonflies, who looked far more like dragons than flies in the mystical moonlight, and then joining a conga line with the fireflies. He’d never had so much fun.

Soon the barrel overflowed, and tiny flower fairies spilled out and danced along the moon’s path across the yard. But then, as night turned towards morning, and the moonlight dimmed in the sun’s dawning rays, the fairy flowers became so tired they fell asleep where they stood, the moonlight magic waning for another month. Johnny was the last to stop, but when he realized it was almost day, he hurriedly climbed back through his window and immediately fell asleep in his bed.

He only awoke when he heard his mother’s voice call out, “Oh look, the Johnny Jump Ups have escaped the barrel. They’re all over the yard. They must have had quite a night last night.” Johnny smiled. If she only knew! Clearly, he was aptly named. Johnny Jump Ups didn’t like walls any more than he did.

More than a pretty flower, Johnny Jump Ups can be eaten and are often used to decorate cakes and other pastries. Medicinally, they are used to alleviate aches and pains. They can be helpful for coughs and sore throats in a tea, or can treat cuts, dry skin and acne, either directly or in a salve. Shakespeare, calling them love-in-idleness, had the fairy, Puck, use the flower to trick the queen, Titania into falling in love with Bottom, a servant with a donkey’s head. Roman legend says the flowers were white until one was hit by Cupid’s arrow, then they turned purple. More than a pretty border or container flower, Johnny Jump Ups have been around for centuries and are quite versatile.

Time Well Spent

By Gaye Hoots

I spent the last two weeks visiting in Advance with family and friends. The two Sundays I was there; I went with my daughter and brother-in-law to church at Advance United Methodist Church. News of the new young minister with a beautiful voice for song and speaking enticed me. The first Sunday, a visiting minister spoke but was an excellent speaker. There were friends I had not seen for weeks, some for months. It was a pleasure to see everyone and to speak with Nancy Shoaf, who had recently lost her husband, Medford.

Last Sunday, the new minister spoke; he had a rich, captivating voice and delivered a meaningful message. The service and the fellowship were rewarding. I plan to attend the next time I visit.

Faye, Nick, and I celebrated birthdays, and their anniversary by having lunch at Shelton Vineyards, a beautiful setting in the foothills where they took Charles and Lorene Markland to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary recently.

Gail Frye and I had lunch at 101, and though recovering from a broken hip, she is baking cakes again. The day I visited, she had 4 of them boxed and was icing the 5th one. Gail sent one home with me, and it was delicious. Sunday, she and I went to Ron Beard’s memorial service. The crowd was so large I did not get to speak to everyone, but Glenda was as beautiful as ever. Her cousin Judy Hendrix Osborne, Betty Jean,and Stacey Cornatzer attended. I didn’t recognize Stacey because I tried to place him as a classmate. We grew up with the Cornatzer boys and loved them. Janie Zimmerman and I talked; it seems we only see each other at memorial services.

Janine Vogler had planned to attend with me but had sprained her wrist and did not feel up to going. Jane Carter and I had to cancel plans earlier in the week, but she and Jack were at the memorial service. David Carter has purchased the Mamie Markland Myers home near his parents, and they are working on that project. Several classmates from Shady Grove Elementary were there, and we discussed the possibility of planning a Shady Grove reunion. Precious childhood memories of time spent with each other prompted this.

I made plans for lunch with several friends and spoke with Larry Smith and his wife about our friend Bill Evans who had a stroke and is in rehab recovering. I also stopped by to check on Judy and Sam Howard and Betty and Bob Potts.

The memorial was held at The Farm near Jerusalem Church. The setting is lovely, and the building is beautiful. It is owned and managed by Judy Grubb and her husband; she was a classmate of Ron Beard. I don’t know if they were responsible for the food, but it was excellent.

When I took Gail home, her family gathered for a watermelon cutting. I was lucky to see 2 of Pete Frye’s sisters, one I have known for years, and the other is a member of Renegade Writers.

This week I attended the wedding of Sandy Latham to Brent Barnes with my granddaughter, her fiancé, and his son. My granddaughters were flower girls in the sweet, country-themed wedding. We enjoyed celebrating their marriage, food, music, and fellowship.

My generation is blessed to experience the happy events of childhood and adulthood, reexperience the joyous occasions with our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and share those of family and friends whose sorrows we also share. Life is good.

Sherlock

By Marie Craig

In my church we have assignments to check on each other by visiting and befriending.  When I lived in Columbia, South Carolina, I was asked to become familiar with an older lady in our church who lived alone, about 4 miles from me.  What seemed like a task just to check off became a pleasant experience as I realized that she had been a gifted artist in watercolor and a person I could relate to and learn from.  She would share her memories with me about her family and her interests.

Everything was positive except she wasn’t able to do much housekeeping.  She had a black and white cat named Sherlock who was welcome on all the furniture. I would come home covered in cat hair from sitting on Sherlock’s couch.

My friend lived one block off a seriously-busy street northeast of Columbia.  There was an intersection about a fourth of a mile from her home with cars whizzing constantly.

At one of my visits, I realized Sherlock was missing.  She told me that she was considering giving him away but first wanted to know that he was in good health and current with vaccines.  Her son had come to get the cat and took him to a veterinarian’s office a few miles away.  To drive there, he just put the cat in his car, drove one block to the main road and then turned left at the intersection.  He left the cat for rehab and went home.  A few days later, he picked up the cat after work on that cold, dark, rainy afternoon.  When he approached the busy intersection, he decided to gas up his car on the corner.  When he opened the car door, Sherlock escaped.  The son called and looked in vain for the cat and feared the worst with the rain, the darkness, and the rush hour traffic.  He finally curtailed his search and went to his mother’s to explain what had happened.  I was sad to hear this and knew I’d miss seeing Sherlock on my visits.

A few months later at one of my monthly visits, when I entered my friend’s living room, there sat a black and white cat on the couch as if he owned the place.  I asked her if she’d acquired another cat, and she said, “No, that’s Sherlock!”  I couldn’t believe it.  She said she had heard something at the back door, and there he was.  I couldn’t believe he had found her in the midst of traffic, stores, many houses that all looked alike, and mayhem.  She said that if he wanted to live with her that much, that she was going to keep him as long as possible.