The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:11 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


By Gaye Hoots

My books are my favorite past time.

They take me forward into the future.

When I step between the covers

They transport me to other worlds.

I stroke the cover and whisper the magic word.

Open, and it becomes alive.

It is my choice.

A spaceship to Mars with aliens.

A shootout in the wild, wild west.

Solving a mystery as an older female,

Or a sexy siren with a curious mind.

I morph into a male gunslinger of

Any ethnic origin.

Some days I become a horse running free.

On other days a subservient dog.

Licking my master’s boots.

Any book takes on a life of its own,

When I perform this ritual.

My last book sucked me into intrigue,

As a woman with a damaged past.

Who despite many talents,

Sabotaged her future because

Of the scars from her past.

I can put books on the shelf,

But they whisper to me and call.

OPEN! Open me and I will

Become a new adventure.

Hummingbirds and Wildflowers

By Denise Bell

Mother Nature gifts us with so many wonderful surprises. After much preparation during the earlier months of the year, gardeners as well as other observers are reaping the benefits of that work. Spring has delivered us the bouquets of summer, bringing us a plethora of beauty and new growth.

I moved to NC in December 2021 and spent my first summer here cleaning up my yard which was overgrown and wild. It needed a summer of tender loving care and I joyfully put in the work. I trimmed, weeded and added new gardens, preparing my palette in order to begin my landscape here. This spring I was rewarded when all the new growth from my previous years planting revealed itself. Yellowy daffodils were followed by gladiolus and iris. The lilac bush I brought from my previous home presented me with a single purple bloom, the sweet smell letting me know that it made the trip just fine. My butterfly bush is bustling with activity. Swallowtails, monarchs and moths flutter and dance from flower to flower. The red admiral butterfly bowing as the painted-lady butterfly crosses his path.

My daughter has a wildflower garden which is bursting with blooms. The garden spreads across the entire front of the house. What a joyous sight it is as I drive down the long, winding driveway and the wonderful colors begin to be revealed. Bachelor buttons towering throughout, scattering of every color of the rainbow. Vibrant pinks and magenta, lilac and purple, brilliant blues. Every one of them reaches upward to become the tallest in the patch. The white and purple candytuft are scattered among the poppies and anemones. The plum crimson clover brings a song to my head.

All the flourishing beauty has brought the hummingbirds to my new home. In Michigan I had just one or two hummingbirds that would visit me in my suburban backyard oasis. They would fly around the yard for a few minutes. Pausing for a moment to dine Al Fresco on the vines and canna flowers. I had only one feeder and would sit on my back porch, enjoying my gardens hoping for a hummingbird siting.  I had one or two “regulars”, but their visits were not frequent.

he hummingbirds here have now become a part of my family and nurturing these amazing miniature creatures is a pleasure. I love the routine of checking the feeders, brewing up a batch of syrup, cleaning the feeders, filling them and placing them around my yard. I have made my back porch my own personal hummingbird habitat. Petunias hang along the railings. Clematis and morning glory climb the trellises.  I hang my feeders above, inviting the tiny, colorful birds to dine here. My favorite feeders are the ones made of beautiful glass that catch the light and cast a magical display across my space.

As the sun begins to drop, the hummingbirds taunt me. With the hypnotic hum of their wings, they lure me, notifying me that is time for me to wind down my day. I gather my book and my other comforts and settle in to enjoy another gift from Mother Nature.

With lightning speed, they dart from feeder to feeder, with their small peeps and defensive squawks, coming so close to me that I can see the features of their feathers as well as the details of their teeny feet. My porch becomes the stage for their aerial acrobat show. They can be quite dramatic, protecting their space with the flair of their tailfeathers.

     Enjoying the comings and goings on my back porch, the peace of the evening sun sets upon me.  I listen to the hum of life around me, my gratitude to Mother Nature.

Here’s the Thing

By Julie Terry Cartner

Twenty-eight years ago, at about this time, I was struggling. My mother had passed away in December, about six months earlier, and, in January, I had given birth to a premature baby boy. At birth, four months early, he weighed a little over two pounds, and consequently, spent several months in the NICU. When he was finally allowed to come home in May, our lives became easier, and harder. He was fragile, and should I say, rather cranky, and, with our four older children in our home, life was chaotic, exhausting, and challenging.

Despite all of that, I decided to take our five children and drive to the Atlanta area to visit my sister and her family. My husband had to work, so he helped us get ready to leave, kissed us good-bye, and headed to work as we headed south. The drive, with five children under the age of 11, was a bit nerve-wracking, but I knew when I arrived, I’d have plenty of help between my sister, my brother-in-law, and two young adult nieces. So, off we went on our adventure.

My sister had been my rock through our mom’s death and my subsequent delivery, and the difficulties associated with an extremely premature baby, sending cards and gifts, and calling frequently, and I really wanted to spend some time with her. Despite the insanity of taking five children on a solo trip, it was a wonderful week. We did what sisters do; we encouraged and supported each other. I headed home at the end of the week; happy I had made the decision to go. Less than half a year later, my sister died unexpectedly.

Here’s the thing. The trip was scary with that teeny-tiny, delicate, premature baby, and the decision to go was probably not one of my smartest choices. However, that turned out to be the last time I saw my sister. Had I listened to reason and stayed home, I wouldn’t have that week of memories. I wouldn’t have the added link of experiences with my sister – late night chats, days of laughter, more unbreakable bonds to add to all our previous visits.  Most importantly, I wouldn’t have been able to say, “I’m so glad I went,” rather than, “Oh, I should have gone.” I had gratitude for going rather than regrets for staying home. I will be eternally grateful that I chose memories over regrets.

Recently, my neighbor and friend lost her husband, and their children lost their father. Less than a month earlier, they had traveled across the country to visit her family and celebrate a nephew’s graduation. I’m sure the decision was difficult: they had to take the kids out of school right before the end of the year, he had to take days off from work, and she had to handle the challenges of traveling with young children.

But they made the choice to go, and thus, spent a week making more memories. I have no doubt, she’ll never regret that decision. They had a bonus week. A week focused on family certainly outweighs the difficulties of travel; a week of family time rather than the regular nitty-gritty of juggling jobs, school, meals, and chores; a week of family time that is clearly irreplaceable.

We never know when the morning good-bye is the last good-bye. We never know when the last kiss is the last kiss. We never know when our words will be our last words to someone we love. We are often reminded of this, and yet, so often, we still forget. In Act III of Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Emily tells her mother: “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me… just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another.” Then she asks the Stage Manager the agonizing question, “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it … every, every minute?” Of course, we can’t, but we can make more effort to try. So, here’s the thing: Take the time. Make the time. Nobody ever regrets spending more time with the ones they love.

Cottonwood Trees

By Marie Craig

Directly in front of my house at a short distance is a huge cottonwood tree. In May and June, white fluffies looking like snow blow from it. They are so light and delicate and float on the breeze in an attempt to find a good nurturing home for the tiny seed inside so that another cottonwood tree can grow. That’s the poetic, sweet version of the situation.  Alas, everybody doesn’t view it so positively. It can cover the ground and your porch like snow and sneak in your house if you aren’t careful.

The research version shows that they are called Eastern Cottonwood Trees, Populus deltoides. They are a member of the poplar family as the scientific name reminds us. They are a fast-growing tree, maybe five feet a year and can reach a height of 65 to 100 feet. Since there is rapid growth, the lumber from the tree is very soft. The bark has deep ridges with horizontal splits.  The seeds can blow as far as five miles.  Leaf stems are flat, so when the wind blows, there is more surface area for the breezes to hit.  As a result, those leaves will tremble and be noisy when the leaves of other kinds of trees just barely move.  I found this quote, “It looks like they’re being tickled by the wind.”  There are male trees and female trees.  The fluffy seeds are only on the female trees.  The male trees produce only pollen.  The twigs are very flexible.  If you cut a branch at a right angle to the surface, there will be a five-pointed star in the center.

Anthropology approach to the study of cottonwood discovers that native Americans believed that these were special.  Many years ago, the Spirit of the Night noticed that there were fewer and fewer stars in the sky.  He called upon the Spirit of the Wind to bring back the stars.  He knew the stars were hiding in the twigs of the cottonwood trees so he created a strong wind that snapped the branches off.  When they broke and fell, the stars shot out of the twigs and into the sky.  Kachina dolls made by native Americans are carved from cottonwood roots.  Natives believe that the shade of the cottonwood possesses an intelligence that is healing and can help you avoid conflicts.  They think the tree is a protector and a provider.

There are medicinal uses.  The resin of the buds contains salicin, the same compound that gives aspirin its pain relieving and fever reducing helps.  There is a cottonwood salve for skin irritations and sunburn that is made from the buds.  They are soaked with olive oil for months before use.

The sticky sap was used to waterproof baskets and buckets in early times.  Bees use it to seal their hives.

Nature is amazing, and the many facts and uses were interesting for me to study.