The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
Published 10:29 am Sunday, February 26, 2023
By Katie Bell
If these trees were water, this land would be a peninsula. Acres surrounded on three sides by a sea of trees. I bear witness to the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Wild turkeys, rabbits, deer are often seen, yet always a surprise. This peninsula is my observation deck, a course on rural life for a newcomer city girl.
A doe and buck are spotted on the forest edge, and cautiously they freeze. I move slightly. They retreat. Later, on the opposite side of the peninsula, a fawn is alone at the top of the hill. Crying, he barely stood. Was he injured, lost, hungry? Helpless, he cried with the grieving sounds of fear and pain. Carrots an offering, I approached. Were his legs broken or brand new? The fawn staggered away in labored spurts, tripping into the sea of trees.
I think about the fawn for days. I watch the woods for signs of the baby reunited with his family. Nature will take its course, my husband says, and he hasn’t seen buzzards circling, no signal of death nearby. His observations of nature are a little bleak, mine more optimistic.
I listen. Buzzards are vocal, squawking aggressively from the top of the hill. Is this the fawn facing its fate in the circle of life? Did I throw nature off course, trying to be a helpful human only to scare it from its mother forever? I think about getting into my car to investigate the fuss at the top of the hill. I would have to leave my daughters asleep in their bed. I imagine them waking up, wandering the house looking for me. They’d grow scared when they can’t find me, panic setting in when they realize that I am gone and they are all alone. My heart sinks. I stay.
The buzzards quiet and I hear a faint cry. I try to identify the source. Is the same cry from days ago when the fawn was scared and alone? One buzzard speaks out from very close in the woods. The cry gets louder. They take turns arguing while I tune in and try to translate.
The buzzard quiets and there are no more cries. I stare at the woodline, hoping to see the fawn emerge victorious and proud. I listen. I watch. Maybe nature has taken a more optimistic course, leaving the deer victorious to be reunited with its family. I wait.
Months go by. I drive home and as I climb the hill, I count 12 deer crossing my path. And every night when darkness sets in, there are 3 deer that gather on our peninsula.
By E. Bishop
Although the U.S. Postal Service has no official motto, as a retired postal employee, I can appreciate the sentiment of “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” These words are engraved on the front of the James A. Farley Post Office in New York City. It is a phrase taken from an ancient book by the Greek historian Herodotus and refers to messengers in the Persian Empire where a system of mounted postal couriers served.
Motto or not, this phrase describes exactly what is expected from all employees of the Postal Service, not only the mail carriers. This affordable and dependable organization is one of the largest employers in the country (especially of veterans) and serves every residential and business address in the nation. Once a career position is achieved, an employee will have a competitive salary with great benefits in a union environment. However, back in 1986, as a newly sworn in employee, I could not have imagined all of the challenges that lay ahead for me. Remember the motto?
Before I get into that though, let me tell you some fun facts taken from the postal website. The Peach Springs, AZ post office has walk-in freezers for food destined for delivery by mule train to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The post office in Utqiagvik, North Slope of Alaska, experiences the coldest temperatures with an average low in February of minus 20.4 degrees F. Death Valley, CA is at the lowest elevation and is the hottest and driest in the country with average summer highs of 116 degrees.
Needless to say, I would never consider delivering mail under those conditions. It was bad enough the first winter I delivered mail in our local area; I remember looking out my living room window wondering what have I gotten myself into, how was I going to manage, as I watched the snow piling up outside. Some other incidents when I thought I was crazy for sticking it out – the time I fell on an ice covered walkway knocking myself out, feeling like my tailbone was cracked, delivering in the rain/thunder/lightening with trees swaying all around thinking I was going to be struck by lightning at any given time, hurriedly (on my appointed rounds) walking into a clothesline (left eyebrow never to be the same). My coworkers also have horror stories they could tell like driving in hurricane conditions, stepping in holes in yards or worse yet, land mines left by dogs. But, I digress from my intention for this article.
Winter driving is the most difficult season for all essential workers be they postal employees, nurses, doctors, etc. If you cannot stay home, it is wise to prepare yourself and your vehicle for the anticipated conditions. Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and others on the road. While delivering mail in the postal LLV, I could shift to neutral if I went into a slide; this saved many a mailbox. But with today’s cars, this is not advisable; it could make you lose even more control over your car. It is better to leave it in gear, remove foot from accelerator, avoid slamming on brakes and don’t oversteer; steer away from skid. Drive slower, accelerate/decelerate slowly, don’t power up hills and don’t stop going up a hill. If able, clean snow from in front of your mailbox or the steps leading to your box and be courteous to all those workers trying to do their jobs. I’m not the expert in these matters, but I am grateful I can just look out my living room window now without worry.
By Linda H. Barnette
Since King Charles III will be crowned in Westminster Abbey in London this coming May, it might be interesting to history lovers to learn about the Abbey. Some of the information below comes from the brochures I have kept since our trip there in 1988. The rest comes from various other sources.
Originally named the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, the Abbey is an old Anglican Church in the city of Westminster and is located close to the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. Since the Norman Conquest of 1066, it has been the location of the coronations of 39 British monarchs.
Although it was originally a abbey for Benedictine monks, the construction of the present church was begun in 1245 during the reign of King Henry II. The monastery was dissolved in 1559 as the church itself became a Church of England, responsible only to the sovereign, who at that time was Elizabeth I.
The architectural style of the building is Gothic, and the structure itself is awesome and stunning. In addition to coronations, 16 royal weddings were held there, and 19 monarchs are buried there, including Queen Elizabeth II very recently. Finally, 3,300 prominent people are buried there and will be discussed later.
‘Please, Pass the Salt’
By Stephanie Williams Dean
I’m adding an additional pinch of salt regarding “salty speech.” Scripture found in Colossians 4:6 instructs, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…” Just like food, our spiritual conversations should have a measure of zest, and a splash of tang so our words are interesting and appetizing to pique the appetite of others.
It’s ok if we don’t combine the perfect mixture of words. That’s a great time to pray to God to help us combine the right words – so as to be marinated in faith in such a way that others will understand. We must be ready to share the recipe for the good news in a way that reflects us as adequately seasoned and fully baked – as witnesses for Christ.
In addition, salt has an implication for peace. When Jesus tells us to be “salty,” it is also meant to be at peace with others – possibly because salt was believed to have healing properties. The scripture found in Mark 9:50 reads, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (NIV)
In those days, flavoring and preserving food was limited to salt due to the vast supply of salt hills near the Dead Sea. Some salt was good for cooking and seasoning, but not all salt collected was good salt as some had lost saltiness. However, salt without saltiness was kept and stored in the Jerusalem Temple. When rain made the marble slick, salt was spread on it, so it wouldn’t be so slippery.
In Mark 5:13, Jesus repeats “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” He then adds, “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
We can reasonably conclude from this scripture that when salt has lost its saltiness, it’s sure to be of little value and trod upon.