Author Archives: Juliet Waldron

About Juliet Waldron

Author, Poet, Grandma, Cat Mother, Gardener, Music Lover, Tree Hugger, solitary practitioner,

A Thumbnail for the 4th of July — By Juliet Waldron

AhamiltonHe wasn’t born here, but in the British West Indies, on the small volcanic island of Nevis, the son of a strong-willed woman and the younger son of a Scottish Duke. He’s been more or less been (except for his appearance on our Ten Dollar Bill) pushed out of the American pantheon, but here, the day before our national holiday, I’d like to say a few words about Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton was sent here at seventeen to attend King’s College (now Columbia) by planters who thought such a bright kid should have a chance to become something more than a clerk. (Working in an office, learning the realities of the three-corner trade, had been his only means of support from the age of eleven.) When the Revolution broke out, Hamilton was at first a loyalist, but, fortunately for us, he changed his mind. Soon, the college money went to outfit an artillery company of which he became the captain, a rank earned in our fledgling military because he knew trig, and therefore could use his weapons. BTW 18th Century artillerymen stood on the front lines and took fire, both from the enemy and from the not infrequent explosions of the rusty old French & Indian War cannons they’d commandeered from local armories. Hamilton survived the first years of the war in this way until he came to the attention of George Washington, who was in need of bright young men who knew how to push paper and assist their over-worked commander-in-chief as aides de camp.

On the issue of slavery, Hamilton differed from other prominent founders. During the Revolutionary War, he and his South Carolina planter friend, John Laurens, proposed our Congress declare that slaves willing to bear arms on the Patriot side would be set free, formed into companies and armed to fight. You can imagine the kind of reception this out-of-the-box notion received. He also expressed the then broad-minded belief that blacks’ “natural facilities” were “as good as that of whites.” Later, after the Revolution, he joined John Jay’s New York Manumission society and was active in the cause of ending slavery in that state. He, personally, never owned slaves.

Although there are plenty of other ways in which Hamilton was a man who saw far ahead of his agrarian-minded contemporaries, his fame has steadily diminished. I think this is because neither Left nor Right can completely claim him. He marched to his own drummer, and that drummer was a strong pragmatism—what is now called “the real world solution”—which still doesn’t seem to be very popular among our legislators. He wasn’t drawn to ivory tower thinking, but to what would work—what would make America a great nation. He wanted roads and bridges. He wanted “manufacturies;” he wanted insurance and banks, and all the related industrial development which has carried us into the forefront of nations. Of capitalism, he had no illusions. He knew that wealthy, privileged people might do the “right thing,” but only if they could be motivated by self-interest. He knew how to horse trade and thoroughly understood the concept of “mutually beneficial.”

More than all these things, though, I think he wanted to see America become a meritocracy, where the cream rose to the top. He believed in justice, too, and in his legal career, tried to see it done, and not just available for those who had the coin to pay. As a young man, he defended a small business owner, a ferryman who’d been whipped by a wealthy landowner for refusing to be always at his beck and call. Hamilton never forgot what it had been like to try to make his way in a world governed by privilege, without wealth or family. Surely, this man is a stellar example of “the American Way.”

~~~Juliet Waldron

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Light My Fire

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It was 1967 and you and I and everybody else heard this song by The Doors. I was a nice middle class girl attending college, but I’d already been married for two years, so the full import of Jim Morrison’s full frontal sonic assault was not lost on me. Up until that time, the sexiest record I possessed was one of Richard Burton reading John Donne’s love poems – which, by the way, was pretty sexy. The Doors’ lyrics were nowhere near that verbal elegance, and the whole bit, in retrospect, has something of that kid-who–thinks-he-just-invented-sex bombast, but Morrison was definitely the strutting cock of the walk that summer.

Now, gray-haired and arthritic, beset on every side by decay, I go several times a week to a “Granny” gym class, a.k.a., Silver Sneakers©.    It’s ordinarily helpful to listen to old pop music to get stiff, often painful joints moving. I can lift weights or work out with stretchy bands to “Money,” “Maybelline,” “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Downtown” without too bitter an experience of the heavy–handed irony of my current situation. However, the other day, toward the end of the workout, with a vocalist pumped up and screaming like a power-lifter on his final try, backed by a ghetto blaster beat, I was confronted with—for the first time in years—’Light My Fire’. 

I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop obediently working my triceps, drop the dinky weights, and go dancing around the room in my present old lame body. I wonder if I could have recreated, using muscle memory, just an instant of that long gone time.

 

~~Juliet Waldron

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http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Air Travel in the 1950′s, a kid’s memory

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DC-9 loading on the tarmac
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Vickers Viscount, a sturdy little workhouse

I was young when we took our first trip to the British West Indies. In those days, air travel wasn’t quite the routine it is today, and the air route to Bridgetown, Barbados, was not a single hop. One reason for this was that although jet planes had just entered the commercial sphere, travel to the West Indies was not the popular run-of-the-mill destination it is today. The piston-driven planes and prop jets on which we’d travel had top speeds of a mere 200-350 mph v. the 550 mph of true jets like the Boeing 707. We’d fly from Syracuse, New York on Allegheny Airlines to La Guardia, on a trusty DC-3 or one of the newer Convairs. Then, the next day, somehow or other—I remember, sometimes via small planes, taxis, and buses—we’d travel across NYC east to Idlewild (now JFK). From there, we’d fly to Bermuda, and then the long leg to San Juan, where we’d pick up flights that took us to Barbados. Mom was an Anglophile, so we often traveled BOAC, (British Overseas Airlines Corp.) though sometimes we’d go Pan Am for that first long leg, flying in DC 6’s and 7’s, or on TWA on the famous “Super Connies” (Lockheed Constellations), whose stick-insect bodies and three vertical stablizers marked them out.

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DC-3 Pilot in his cockpit

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“Super Connie,” this one now in an air museum

My Dad had wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and he still who loved aircraft, so he always managed to have a few words with the pilot. In those days, we could go up front and briefly look in at the impressively uniformed pilot and co-pilot in their dial-and-gauge filled cockpit. Once on BOAC, we had a memorable ride from Idlewild to Puerto Rico on a Bristol Britannia, a 4 engine “whispering giant” turbo prop, which could fly with a top speed of 385 mph, and at the serene (and then remarkably pressurized) altitude of 20,000 feet. It was a real change from the noisy piston planes barging and bumping through turbulence and clouds. Sometimes they’d drop for what seemed thousands of feet and then leap up again while still within a big cumulus, tossing overhead luggage out and leaving our stomachs somewhere up on the ceiling.

From those older planes, we’d emerge almost deaf after so many hours of banging and rumbling. On the island hops, we’d be on feeder airlines again. BWI, British West Indian Airways, flew some Vickers Viscounts on the grand run from San Juan to Trinidad, Caracas and on into South America. Often, though, it was back to the good old DC 3’s again, where, lugging my carry-on, filled with books, teddies, a Swan Lake L.P. and sundries, I’d clamber up the steep rise of the gangway to find a window seat. Once in the air, I could see the islands and reefs surrounded by azure water and white caps, an astonishing change from the filthy frozen piles of snow we’d left behind in New York a mere 24 hours ago.

“Juliet Waldron

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Find Juliet Waldron at Second Wind Publishing

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ROAN ROSE

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A snippet of a review for my new novel, ROAN ROSE, one I’ve dreamed of writing since I was a teenager. An odd synchronicity for me that the year it was finally published was also the year when Richard III’s bones were rediscovered, more or less where tradition said he was buried. Once his three day summer time corpse was finally deposited in a hastily opened grave in the Franciscan Monastery of Leicester and covered–probably much to everyone’s relief who was standing nearby–that was the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, a line stretching back to the 11th Century. When the monastery was destroyed during the Reformation, the site was lost. First, the ruins became someone’s garden, and, much later, a parking lot.

“Waldron certainly knows her history…Yet despite accuracy for setting, Roan Rose is ultimeately a book about character. Rose and Richard and Anne are all fully formed people with their virtues and faults, their moments of kindness and integrity…Rose walks an uncomfortable line between friend and servant. Her heart belongs to the two people who always stand above her, will never view her as their equal, yet who can never bear to part with her completely for long…”
~~ Diane Salerni, “The Caged Graves” (HarperCollins, forthcoming)

—Juliet Waldron

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Check out my books at: Second Wind Publishing

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Grocery Stores, Yesterday and Today

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What a difference a few years makes! (Well, more like fifty, but what’s a half a century between friends?)

Just after World War II, we moved to a little town in upstate New York from Ohio. I remember going with my parents to the Atlantic & Pacific (A&P) store in the business section in our new town. In those days, this was situated in a row of brick buildings which backed against the Finger Lake for which the place was named.  On Saturday, the store was crowded with people, who stood in a series of lines up to a counter. Behind the counter was a two story wall—at least, that’s how tall it seemed to me, filled with canned goods and boxes. There were a pair of ladders which could be moved back and forth against the wall, section to section, which were climbed by teenage helpers. When it was your turn at the counter, you presented a list to the shopkeeper, who, in turn, got a cardboard box from beneath the counter. He called the items to the boys, who fetched them, climbing up and down the ladders like monkeys, tossing cans of peas, corn, spinach, soup and beans into the shopkeeper’s hands. There were also a section devoted to boxed products, the few baking mixes that were available and a selection of cereals, ones like Quaker Oats, Post Toasties, Shredded Wheat and Wheaties.  (We ate Quaker Oats or Wheatena in the winter and switched to Wheaties in the brief upstate summers. Later, I remember the corrupting delight of summer bowls of Sugar Pops or Frosted Flakes.)

Along the back of the store there was a small refrigerated wall unit, but it didn’t hold much except iceberg lettuce and some milk, butter and margarine.  We went next door to the butcher shop for meat, and waited while a hunk of chuck was ground to burger. We didn’t “stock up” because the freezer compartment of our refrigerator—itself a modern miracle—wasn’t very large and often was frosted over. Mom wasn’t a devoted housekeeper, and she went shopping every couple of days, as needed, for perishable items like meat. (The only times we ate fish was if someone opened a sardine can, or if a someone caught a fish, or, once a year, when Mom went the through the ceremonial two day process of cooking a batch of salt cod. The milkman brought us glass bottles to our door in his truck. The milk, I remember, sometimes froze and popped the paper lids.  I also remember the revelation that came from eating fresh peaches, all juice and fuzz They were so very different from the taste of canned, which was almost everything we ate.

Last week, in the vegetable section of the supermarket, I noticed pre-chopped tubs of “mirepoix.”  I won’t even begin to ruminate on the culinary developments which have led American consumers to ask for that! To say the least, the “grocery store” has undergone some drastic changes during my life time.

~~Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

http://yesterrdayrevisitedhere.blogspot.com/

Hand-me-Down Bride

Roan Rose

Historicals With a Time Travel Feel @ Amazon and Secondwind Publishing

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Nighttime Intruder

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The other night I’d left my elderly, portly cat Lizzie outside to fend for herself.  I shouldn’t, even though the neighborhood is mostly quiet. My experience of living here is that when you least expect it—expect it! I was relaxed during the summer a few years back when the folks across the street let their pit-bull escape. When he body-slammed our screen door, barking and snarling—we realized he wanted to get inside and eat our cats. Fortunately, back then, all the fuzzy butts were hale and fast on their feet. The second time this lethal weapon got loose, his owners spent over an hour attempting to catch him, apparently because they were more afraid of him than he was of them. Anyway—that’s another story—but it should explain why I couldn’t go to sleep, knowing Lizzie was waddling around the nighttime yard. After a couple of hours, I gave up the attempt to lose consciousness and went downstairs to collect her.

Another neighbor has one of those parking lot lights blazing away in his backyard, which actually makes it harder to see because of the high contrast it creates. Behind our tall fence, under the old silver maple, we remain in a small slice of darkness. Close to my feet, out tiger Bob muttered something like “Wowie Mrrrrrrp” deep down in his throat. I had an intuition he was cautioning me about something. My eyes were slow to adjust, and, as I stood on the patio in my nightgown I heard the distinct sound of something brushing through the flowerbed about ten feet away. My gaze pried into shadow. That was when I saw of a blaze of white and then the pacing movement, a distinct side to side motion, whisking away from me, across the porch. An oily smell, traveling more slowly, was the final clue to who this intruder was, visiting my nighttime yard.

The better part of valor was to retreat, so I did, back inside to turn on the porch light. By the time I did that, nothing was visible, just my cats. Bob sat by the door.  Lizzie was a little further out by a small spruce, lying there in the classic meatloaf posture, front paws neatly tucked under her chest. Clearly, neither of them was alarmed, simply keeping a respectful distance, while the skunk came to drink out of the water pots/bird baths that litter my yard. We’d moved into drought , so I wasn’t surprised some of the local outlaws were availing themselves of the detente of the nighttime suburban water hole.

Juliet Waldron

Hand-me-Down Bride & Roan Rose @ Second Wind Publishing  & Smashwords

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Reconstructing Richard

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I’ve been thinking about Richard III for a long time. I was an only child who lived in a house well supplied with plenty of books, so  I read a lot.  When I read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, I learned an important lesson that everyone interested in studying the past learns sooner or later: History is written by the victors, and therefore, the thumbnail version, which we get in school, rarely resembles the truth. I became an ardent Ricardian. Henry Tudor, the man who defeated Richard and founded the famous dynasty, was a sharp politician. It may have been 1486, but he employed talented spin doctors, men like Bishop John Morton who would be right at home in a modern political smear campaign.  Tudor propaganda strategy came to fruition many years later in Shakespeare’s engaging, rip-roaring historical melodrama. For centuries this stage creation has been the “Richard III” most people know.

In the ‘90’s, I had a Ricardian flashback, familiar to OCD types & writers.  I joined a now defunct ‘net group called “Later Medieval Britain” and began talking about the king and the Yorkist era  with interested people who lived all over the world—from Australia, to Britain, to the US. Most knew a great deal more about the period and the newly available ancient sources than I did.  I began to research again. At the same time I began to reconsider the knight- in-shining-armor Richard I’d constructed. After all, as a child I was more of a fan than an historian.

I’d become involved, while writing Mozart’s Wife and My Mozart, in an attempt to enter the mindset of my subjects by immersing myself in contemporary writing. For the later Middle Ages, I discovered newly available sources, listed in Roan Rose’s bibliography. The members of LMB, many members of The Richard III Society, were always willing to share and give me a push in the right direction. For me, anyway, there was a lot of new information to consider.

It’s a long, long way from 1780 to 1480.  The medieval POV I tried to enter when I wrote Roan Rose is not much like ours. There was a rigidly hierarchical social structure and a world view which wouldn’t have been unfamiliar five centuries years earlier.  The class into which a person was born was destiny, although this was not as impermeable in England as it was in the rest of Europe. Medieval people were hard-nosed and their lives were short. As well as the strictures of class, gender was another unrelenting form of destiny. Most women were married and “breeding” by the time they reached their teens.

Even for those living at the top, those with good food and physical comforts, life could be tough. Adulthood began early. For instance, by the time Richard was fourteen, he was making life-altering decisions. He chose loyalty to his brother the King over loyalty to his mentor Warwick, in whose grand household he’d received his knightly training. The bait Warwick dangled was not inconsiderable, either, for this was his lovely cousin Anne, who was one of the richest heiresses in England. Richard’s brother George, contrastingly, took Warwick’s offer and married Anne’s older sister, Isabel. When Warwick – not nicknamed “Kingmaker” for nothing – unseated Richard’s brother, King Edward, and replaced him with the rival Lancastrian claimant, George supported his father-in-law. Richard fled with the King into the lowlands where their sister Margaret, who had married Duke Charles of Burgundy, could protect them. During this time of exile, he and his siblings got busy setting a conspiracy afoot to entice their wayward brother George to return to their side.

Before he was nineteen, Richard led troops in two decisive battles, Barnet and Tewkesbury, which would restore his brother Edward to the throne. He displayed bravery and coolness beyond his years. In the aftermath of Tewkesbury, he and the family’s staunch Yorkist ally, John, Duke of Norfolk, were the judges who delivered death sentences upon captured Lancastrian nobles, lured from sanctuary with false promises of safe passage.  Sixteen noblemen—many of them personally familiar and most of them cousins–were beheaded that day, with the two Dukes as witnesses. After this blood bath, I’ve read, they all went in to dinner. This was a world in which nobles, peasants and commons alike went to see whippings, hangings and disemboweling for entertainment, a world in which life expectancy was a mere 30 years.

I don’t know if I was able to fully enter the mindset necessary for axing my relatives, but I do want to make clear that historical romance characters who can pass for “civilized,” cannot be anything like a real 15th Century specimen.  I’m not saying that we today are so much better, it’s just that we have more constraints, a tad more democracy and a great deal more comfort provided by the twin wonders of science and technology. The characters in Roan Rose are probably still tame when compared to the medieval equivalent, but I did try to avoid the restraints under which today’s well-socialized citizens typically act.

The Richard I’ve written is a contradictory character, though full of emotion and sensitivity. His much-handled and personally annotated prayer book* demonstrates that he “had religion.”  He conscientiously undertook good works to balance the inevitable ledger of sin.  He founded chanteries to pray for the living and the dead, as was expected of a prince, and he gave generously to Queen’s College and to the building of King’s College at Cambridge. He was a thoughtful and competent administrator in a time which was famously short of them. We know he was a brave soldier, and that he was a warrior who’d delivered death with his own hand. Whether he took the English throne for good reasons or bad, whether or not he personally gave the order to put his young nephews to death, we will probably never know.   I made an attempt in this, my first medieval novel, to create men and women whose experiences, emotions and choices might give the reader a taste of what it meant to be alive in those times.

*SUTTON, Anne F. & VISSER-FUCHS, Livia,  The Hours of  Richard III, 1990

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The Carsonville Hotel

We’re at the end of the season here in the Northeast–the motorcycle season, I mean. This is just a little something about a fun Pennsylvania ride.

Ride East down Powell’s Valley Road, a fairly generous piece of fertile land between two soft, old PA folded mountains. The valley used to be all farms, but now houses are growing like mushrooms in the fields. It’s so far away from almost anything, I wonder what the people—especially the ones in the windswept new McMansions—do for a living.

When you see the sign for “Carsonville” you’re almost there—and then, suddenly, you are. The road straight ahead drastically narrows. There’s a stop sign and a wide left hand sweep. If you go dashing around that left turn, up the mountain, you missed it. The worn building on your left  is the “hotel,” actually a restaurant and hunter/biker bar of ancient reputation.  It’s not really what’s inside that counts—although there are trophy elks’ heads and a sad and beautiful mounted cougar on display in the dining room. It’s the view from the backyard patio/party site, across the fields and farms, a patchwork which goes to the crumbling rock fences abutting state forest lands. At least, that’s what we like most about the place.

Other riders, large groups of HD/Victory/Gold Wing riders, the kind who come in large, loud packs, stop off, and chow down on burgers, fish sandwiches, crabcakes and huge plates of fries, washed down with a few beers/sodas, and socialize.   (The restaurant is said to cook a mean steak, but we’ve never had one.) We’re solitary rocket riders, on our favorite journey over the mountains, riding our black Hyabusa. We like to arrive early on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, as the place wakes up—11—11:30—12:00 ish—and sit, like Ferdinand the Bull, “just quietly” at an outside table while the staff and other bikers roll in.

“When do you open?”  Customer’s will ask Denis. He’s one of the owners’ sons, a man who lives just up the mountain and who often rides his own classic early 80’s Honda 650 to work.   This fine machine has only 82,000 miles on it and we always admire it because it reminds us of our own “thrilling days of yesteryear.”

“When I get here–it’s open,” says Denis, with a smile.

–Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Old Dead “Friends”

I’ve spent a lot of my life fixating upon dead heroes, which means, as we turn into October, I’m entering my favorite other-worldly season.  (Maybe “hero” isn’t quite the word, but “famous historical personalities” is unwieldy.)  Richard III came into my life early, just pre-teen, via a discarded paperback, “The Daughter of Time” by Josephine Tey, fished from a wastebasket in the lounge of a 1950’s Barbados hotel.  For some reason, this mystery story about a man whose chosen motto was “Loyalty Binds Me” and whose reputation had been blackened, started an obsessive fire in my brain which is, even 50-some years later, burning hotter than ever.

Richard started life in 1452, which is a long time ago—560 years at Fotheringay Castle, now nothing more than a heap of earth by the River Nene where the original motte and bailey stood. As you can see from the picture, 500+ years doesn’t leave much behind! He was born on October 2, which makes him a Libra. If the Tudor spin doctors are to be believed, he was a seriously out of balance child of this supremely balanced heavenly sign. If the skeleton just recovered proves to be the King, it appears that he had a deformity at birth, a severe scoliosis, which would have caused his right shoulder to be carried high.  He only lived for thirty-two years, but he (or his distorted shadow) has left a large mark on World consciousness via Shakespeare’s blood-and-thunder melodrama.

I’ve been flailing around in the flesh more than twice as long as this particular dead hero, but have made not a jot of difference to the greater world.  Still, King Richard, his fair wife, Anne Neville, and others of the bloody Plantagenet cousinage have been talking, loving, cutting off heads and battling in my imagination since childhood. When the recent excavation in that Leicester car park came up with those bones–scoliosis, battle wounds, and all—it started the whole royal panoply, complete with banners and drums, parading through my mind.   More than that, some days it comes seeping out, a moving picture of antique glory superimposed over the ordinariness of daily life. I feel closer to these semi-imaginary long dead than I do to my neighbors. After all, these royal shadows have been with me from childhood. I’ve imagined them while standing on tropical beaches, Cornish cliffs, and all the way to this present slough of suburban senior citizenship.

Roan Rose, my new Second Wind novel, grew from a long time dedication to this old, old story, one which has been fictionalized a great many times already. Still, I “owed” Richard and Anne a book,  even despite the recent big name debut of something similar. In my novel, the fall of the House of York is seen through the unusual lens of “downstairs” eyes. The narrator, Rose, begins her association with Anne Neville while they are both children. Although Rose loves and is loved in return, she can never be more to Anne and her royal cousin (eventually, husband, Richard) than a “common woman,”  a servant. She alone of their triangle of affection will endure to tell of the end of an ancient dynasty and of the dusty survival of a peasant. The price she pays for her loyalty to master and mistress is high.

I can hardly bear to let her go. I’m sure a lot of other writers out there will understand this reluctance to end my “visits” to a much loved creation.

~~Juliet Waldron

http://www.julietwaldron.com

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Rockin’ Robin & the Derecho

Derecho! It’s a terrific new scary weather word, just entering our vocabulary, thanks to Climate Change and our meteorologists. It’s a straight line thunderstorm, the kind they speak of as showing a radar “bow echo.” The eastern seaboard recently experienced a knock-out punch from a big one. We here in south central PA took a sideswipe from the  storm, the same one which disappeared the electricity from millions of people, in a swath which ran from the Alleghenies onto the coastal plain of Virginia.

I woke in the night to hear it coming. At first, I thought it was just Norfolk Southern, whose trains power up and down our valley all night, but I grew up in western Ohio, near Xenia, in fact, which blew away in the great tornado outbreak of 1974, so that kind of noise makes me anxious. When I got up, wind was roaring through the open windows, and the night sky looked thick, like a rushing wall of dirty water. Lightning came blasting in, then pouring rain—time to stop staring and run to see if Bob Cat was at the door, looking for sanctuary. Next, run to close windows. Then it was time to get the heck away from those windows, because, along with the lightning and roaring wind, limbs were crashing down, things were striking the siding and there was a series of huge cracks and house-shaking thuds. Someone’s trees—maybe mine—were going over.

Now, I’ll walk back a step. All summer we’ve been serenaded from the neighbor’s fine tall Norwegian maple by a catbird. IMHO the catbird is the true subject of the old song—sure, you know the one. “He rocks in the tree tops all the day long, huffin’ and puffin’ and a singin’ his song…” All members of the mockingbird family are genius jazz musicians, riffing on their own—and everybody else’s songs. I’ve even heard them do crows, as a sort of end of set caw-da-boom. They take the “catbird seat” to best show off their talents, which is the highest tree or pole or, in days of yore, TV antenna on the tallest house they can find.

Our storm came hard and fast and left the same way. At 5:30 a.m., the light was just coming up and the sky was clearing. The neighbors were already outside.  When I came out to join them, I was shocked by the damage. Three large, beautiful maples on the street were ripped apart, looking as if a big hand had come down and yanked the limbs off. Only shattered trunks remained. Enormous branches, leaves, dead wood, siding and kid toys were everywhere. Across the street from me, where the shapely old Norwegian maple had been, was only the shattered stub of trunk. All the branches now lay on the roof of their house.

On the broken tip of the tree sat the cat bird, as he’d done since spring. He kept moving around on the raw wood, gazing at the leafy paradise in which he’d once lived, now on the ground below. He tried to sing once or twice, just a few grace notes, but his heart wasn’t in it. The green shade world in which he’d lived, loved and rejoiced was gone forever.

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