The Switching Station

SMy grandparents lived near an overpass beneath which a half dozen pairs of railroad tracks form a train yard, a switching station. This is where cars hitch up from one route to another, one engine to another.

It is a relatively quiet dance given the massive amounts of metal being shoved around. When the small town traffic and the highway noise reach a low, the steel wheels and rails sing. This became a lullaby of my childhood to which I fought sleep.

I returned at a point in my life when insomnia and had taken over my nights while confusion and sadness were starving me, literally. In three and a half weeks I had lost 32 pounds and could no longer keep water in my stomach. I didn’t feel and I didn’t care.

The first night, sleep wouldn’t come. I sat on the cement steps my grandfather had poured years before I was born; I fretted. I felt hollow of body and spirit. I felt a calm come on. It took some time to recognize the haunting lullaby still sings.

I slept.

The morning brought familiar smells and tastes at the table in my grandparents’ one-person kitchen. I ate some. During the day I ate the morning’s refrigerated ham between a room temperature biscuit. I sipped Southern sweet iced tea my grandmother kept refrigerated in what was once a one-gallon, glass pickle jar.

By the time I boarded the flight to Portland, Oregon, I felt physical relief. I was unsure what might have happened while I was in California. Sleep and time away helped me hold to the calming lullaby of the switching station.

Three children, my father lost to cancer left the two siblings. Eight grandchildren, one memorialized, and then great grandchildren. After 50 years of Grandma and Grandpa’s, we all mourned the day their home sold and they moved to another house.

Gone the scent of an old King James Bible read aloud in my grandmother’s cadence; the bounty of the garden my grandfather kept watered and weeded; the sight of their neat rows of multicolored canning jars on shelves beside his steel coffee cans filled with nuts, bolts and the aroma of WD-40.

The two-lane highway we used to cross to get to church three times a week is now two in each direction with the center turning lane bringing the count to five. Traffic never reaches a low.

I’m certain the wheels and rails still sing in the din.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

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Hayride

I could hear it before it arrived. I had been excited all day for carolling country style. Layers and layers of clothes, socks, jackets. Gloves. Boots. That knit cap under which my scalp itched. Warm was an understatement.

Somebody had spent some energy bucking a dozen bales of hay onto that flatbed trailer, an amount of energy I wouldn’t understand until my early teens when I helped my father in the fields.

Another bale’s worth covered the trailer floor. The jingling bells were handheld. A tangle of boots and legs made room for a few more of the same. I started reciting silent thanks for my cousins’ foresight of layers upon layers of clothing. The moving air and clear night was a thief to body heat.

Our family was new to the community. The more I watched friends rib one another and holler greetings, the more shy I felt. Until the singing began.

How anyone could hear us mumble carols through scarves and the volumn of the tractor, I have no idea.
I went caroling once more in my youth. It wasn’t the same on a balmy California night, door to door.

©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Patriotism Pieced

I hung our flag when I woke and went outside to feed our dogs. I always pledge my allegiance after I’ve hung it.

My husband asked which flag among those at the store would I like to display by our front drive. It is important to me. Made in the USA is critical and cloth. Nonnegotiable. As large as we could afford to practically hang. It is mounted to a thick wooden dowel. No flagpole. Instead, a humble aluminum fixture to uphold the heavy, often rain-soaked symbol. To carry this flag in my right hand, it leans against my right shoulder, close to my cheek with the wind of our V-shaped valley wrapping me in just a few centuries’  history.

I realize now the tradition that made the United States of America flag. It is a pieced quilt without the usual padding. Cotton pieces bound together. Essentially fragile  in a way our country was and is. It was made with forethought to more stars as this country was made for more diversity. The white I’ve always seen as idealism, fluid values with a positive intent. The red is obvious as blood, much blood and, even now, more blood—theirs, ours and our own. Midnight blue to look up to with a brilliant constellation of stars.

(Photo credit in caption. Please click the image for more inspiration.)

This post © 2014 Sandra R. Davidson

 

The American flag flying atop a pole in winter.

Move Me. This image is © Tyler C. Pedersen and The Ancient Eavesdropper, 2007-2014. Click to be taken to the site page.

Life on Four Legs

In the house 100% of the time, save visits to the veterinarian—that horrible, horrible place that smells of, well, everything.

Sleep ten hours a day.

(Beg to) eat 37 times a day; hourly estimates will vary depending on human presence and responsiveness. In protest, shove unacceptable flavors of food off the feeding station for that great splat-jangle sound.

Sip at the water bowl 56 times, loudly complaining each time that the water dish is too small and it has someone else’s spit in it. Again time estimates will vary; humans are eternally unpredictable.

Muster up the courage to visit the primitive ‘facilities’ by wildly racing around the house yowling as if in heat. A good hour and a half total.

Urinate and defecate—in the same place! And there’s always something (eww) in the way. About thirty seconds before skittering out at a near all-out scramble; multiply by as few times a day as felinely possible for twenty-one minutes, round to a half hour for simplicity.

Groom four hours a day. Sharpen claws at least once an hour. After all, one never knows. Eliminate grooming accumulations onto a well-traversed pathway every few days.

Stalk birds at the window; pounce windblown leaf shadows; chase laser; swat dogs; ambush humans; play pinball with anything that looks interesting; sit at the point where the anything went under x, where x is an object without entire-cat clearance, to shout “goooooooooal!” That about covers—

Ohhh. Wait for those moments, delicious moments when a human walks away from a perfectly good, oh, say a three-inch thick round of salami. Secret prize anywhere the dogs and humans can’t reach.

Fight off your feline competitor with every ounce of pent up frustration you have.

Enjoy!

Cat Taking Prosciutto Sandwich from Table

above photo credit
Our actual culprit:

©2013–GWDavidson

Rascal     ©2013–TGDavidson

©2014–Sandra R. Davidson

Light and Upward Motion

Stand of White Birch Trees in Early Spring

Image: © Allison Trentelman | Please click image to visit the original image page.

The snow had melted to a burnished bronze soil seeping with the comforting scent of decay, the forest readying itself for imminent spring. The path was primarily evergreen fir trees, fallen branches and the most intimate fungi to catch the eye.

At a rise, I looked left into a stark stand of naked white birches glowing against the surrounding evergreens and revealed soil.

Stepping from the muted energy of an evergreen canopy into the downward rush of a much more open space is a sensation I treasure every time I think of Mount Hebo.

The clear view then, from the flat summit, is 360 degrees of bliss for my hermetic soul. South to, I’m told, Tillamook Bay; west into the Pacific Ocean’s indefinite horizon; north so far it feels tangible; and the mountain-blunted view east to the Cascade Range.

Eternity up close—having to sit down before falling into a winter-clear night sky of universe. Another message from The Great Divide and all its meaning.

An Osmosis Kind of Love

All the years I knew my grandparents, my grandmother woke early and prepared a warm house and meal for my grandfather as well as his lunch. It wasn’t her him-centric gestures that taught me every evening was not guaranteed. She and he chastely kissed at the threshold every morning before he left for work.kiss

It wasn’t an animal, a dog or cat, who taught me the excitement of a homecoming, even if that homecoming was faithful five days a week. My grandmother busied herself about the time my grandfather left from work for home and a quiet expectancy came over her. Before I was a big girl, she taught me to seek the sound of gravel grinding in the driveway under his truck tires and his progress through the gate and house to his living room chair. Taller grandchildren pressed their faces to the scent of sheer curtains cooling from the Southern California sun just to see Grandpa pull into home in his faithful Nissan truck.

I am getting to know Continue reading

The Farther Star

Copyright 2013 Sandra R. Davidson

It is simple to be a bright star in a dark sky.

The rarer success is to be a bright star in a blue sky, able to withstand the nearer sun and still reach a beholder, should there be any who will lift their attention from the paths at their feet and the surround of distraction.

There then a reward to lay lightly to a touch and reveal your truth: Resourcefulness is the seed set upon the wind, freedom is offering up everything you are to the risks, and tenacity is finding purchase wherever you next set to ground.

©2013 Sandra R. Davidson—photo and text.