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The Woman in White Marble

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Poetry by Patricia Crandall

 

Patricia Crandall has published numerous articles and short stories in various magazines and newspapers. She has five books in print, Melrose, Then and Now, a historical volume, I Passed This Way, a poetry collection, The Dog Men, a thriller, Tales of an Upstate New York Bottle Miner, non-fiction, Pat’s Collectibles, a collection of short stories, and Living to One Hundred Plus, a collection of interviews of women who have lived past one hundred. She is writing a y/a thriller about child sex trafficking titled The Red Gondola and the Cova. It is ready for publication. She lives with her husband, Art, and a rescue cat, Bette, at Babcock Lake in the Grafton Mountains near Petersburgh, New York. Visit her at authorpcrandall.blogspot.com.

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Thursday
Nov292018

Christmas Folk

Grandma Mary Evans was a visionary and a very spirited little woman. When I was a girl, the first day of December prompted a yearly ritual at this wonderful gammer’s house.

“Cassie, come with me, dear. We must go upstairs to the attic and bring down the decorations!” I can still hear her voice echoing through the old homestead.

Like a top in spin, she climbed the attic stairs, disregarding the fact she was stiffened by age and too much plumpness weighted her frame. I followed her in my girlish sprightliness. We gathered as many boxes in our arms as we were able and clamored downwards into the softly tinted guest room, stacking them in a corner in sequence of the December calendar.

The first box yielded a nativity-manger of eight tiny forms. Carefully, we unwrapped each little figure. I watched Grandma arrange the Infant Jesus bathed under a golden light in the center of a small table. Next, Mary and Joseph were set in a vigil of porcelain beauty in front of the tiny king.

Shepards, kings, a cow, sheep, and a donkey, paid homage to the holy family. At a ten year old’s glance, this tableau seemingly came to life.

My cousin, Sylvia, enjoyed Grandma’s fanciful endeavors, also. A custom in December was to open tiny apertures in an advent calendar card, held together by red  satin ribbons. We ogled the miniature scenes, invariably anxious for the morrow and its sequel.

“Cassie and Sylvia, keep your hands busy. Christmas is coming and there is so much to do.” Grandma Evans admonished to us often.

We helped her drape holly, ivy and laurel on the mantelpieces. We watched her hang zephyry white angel mobiles inside the bay window. Joyfully, we assisted in decking the doorways and arches with silk-bordered cards of holidays past and whimsies of animals, particularly pugs and bulldogs. Poinsettias made of felt were recurrent among the grouping.

“Today we will collect greens for the “Welcome Wreath”, Grandma announced while rousing napping Uncle Wilfred out of his armchair next to the fire. Bundled in warm clothing, the four of us trekked to the wide sweep of back lawn sloping downhill to a border of tall pines. Uncle Wilfred snipped vines off a fence and set them on a sleigh, while Sylvia and I gathered pine cones from beneath the trees. Nearby, Grandma pulled ground pine off the ground, hardened by an early morning frost.

We paraded back to the shed and fashioned a wreath out of natural fixings, tacking it to ribbons, crabapples and cranberries, and boughs of holly. When our handiwork was done, Uncle Wilfred marched to the front door and hung the “Welcome Wreath” under Grandma’s authoritative direction.

During these folksy days, Grandma incited in us Santa Claus would soon be here. A twinkle sparked her eye and her head tilted to one side, “December 25,” she said with a grin upon her jowly face.

As if we did not know this extraordinary event was about to take place. Excited, we burst into grandiloquent caroling, redounding in off-key harmony.

On the fifteenth of December, the table in the kitchen was spread open and Grandma’s heavy frame brushed back and forth, rolling out cookie dough. Her quick hands stamped out Christmas trees, angels, stars, and gingerbread men.

After  the pastries had cooled from the oven, Sylvia and I decorated them with rich frostings and colored sugars, always sampling more than our share.

“Cassie, Sylvia. I want you to take a tray of these cookies to Aunt Kate and Uncle Jim.”

“Do we have to?” I complained. “I don’t want to visit those old fuddy-duddy’s. You have to sit so long and mind your manners.”

“Where’s your Christmas spirit?” Grandma asked good naturedly. “It’s in your toes, I see. Now get along with you.” She said with vigor.

I can still remember the force emanating from her hands as she worked buttons onto buttonholes of our heavy woolen coats and criss –crossed our long, handmade scarves, planting a kiss in the middle of our foreheads. She sent us on our way to the white, Victorian house of our two housebound relatives. Uncle Jim, a humpback gent; invited us into a drawing room, meticulously decorated with holiday accents. We lingered there, gazing at the striped fabric bells, and candy cane ornaments hung on a dwarf Christmas tree.

Aunt Kate, who always muttered to herself under her breath, served us a homemade torte and a mug of hot chocolate, dolloped with whipped cream. The time passed so quickly, we were amazed when it was time to leave.

Merry Christmas’ were bestowed, and a promise made by Sylvia and me, we would come again to visit, very soon. We skipped down the road, taking with us, four brightly wrapped parcels. The prettiest package was for Grandma Evans.

On the twenty-first day of December it was a true phenomenon a snowstorm would blanket Hoosick Falls, New York. We pressed our noses between window panes in the kitchen and watched Uncle Wilfred dress chains around the tires of the old Ford truck. When he was nearly finished, he gave us a signal to put on our snowsuits.

We pulled on the bulky clothes, and went outside, climbing into the truck. The three of us bumped along snow covered roads to a woodland where we had first sighted the tree to be this season’s facsimile of the last. Chop… chop… chop. Uncle Wilfred brought the pine down and hefted it onto the truck. We returned to the homestead bearing our precious cargo.

In the parlor, while Uncle Wilfred set up the tree, Grandma brought out the last box from the guest room. We removed delicate, pale-colored ornaments and decorated the tree with old baubles, pomander balls, and candy canes. A few pieces were so fragile, they were deftly put in place by Grandma’s gentle hands.

Tinsel was unviable in those days. Grandma was insistent we drape it on the tree, strand by single strand. When she left the room, Sylvia and I tossed the silver threads onto the tree. It shrank into balls and knots. Grandma protested our antics while Uncle Wilfred stood threatening nearby.

Long after Sylvia and I collapsed on the rug, Grandma fussed over the tree, humming Christmas jingles, and rearranged tinsel until it hung in peerless adornment. In one fell swoop, she plucked us out of our stupor and gathered us into her arms; her voice swelling with emotion, “now be truthful Cassie and Sylvia, isn’t that the most beautiful Christmas tree you have set your eyes upon?”

In the soft, shimmering glow of Christmas tree lights, I looked up at that dear old face and gave a nod, entrusting to her my heartiest approval.

Christmas Eve came quick as Santa’s wink. The celebration of mass… family gatherings… exchanging gifts… a time of love and jubilation!

Now as true as each Christmas is white ( well, almost), each year I celebrate Christmas with another generation of Christmas folk embodied with the old fashioned traditions of Grandma Mary Evans.

Copyright © 2018 Patricia Crandall

Wednesday
Nov142018

Through a Country Window

Reclining in my favorite,
low rocking chair
inside a calico blue kitchen
scented by pumpkin spice muffins,
I gaze through the window
to a point where sun
strikes leaves of shimmering gold
strung on trees in autumn.
In straw fields
lie orange pumpkin rounds
as corn stalk sentries
stand tall and erect.
It is time to harvest
and reap in good thoughts.

Copyright © 2018 Patricia Crandall

Wednesday
Oct242018

The Night the Pixies Danced

Pixies
dance beneath
golden ring of moon.
Meteoroids
sail through space
gleaming
in autumn starlight.
Misty shrouds
spirit across Ghost Lake.
Willa the Witch
frosts tips of trees
with broom handles
in the midst of riotous
fog fantasy.

 

Copyright © 2018 Patricia Crandall

Wednesday
Oct102018

AMERICA

Jet streams pass over
a cherished heritage
America.
Eagles soar beneath,
symbols of righteous freedom.
I retain
one part of the main,
New York
industrious and powerful.
Vacationing south, I
traveled wide
of New England’s crowning vistas
and meshed through warm, flat straights,
wending into Florida,
poignant with crowded sunshine
and Mickey Mouse.
I am
desirous yet to see
Colorado Rockies
California style
Arizona
Indiana,
all territories united.
America
you have aged well, being
worthy of infinite beauty and greatness.
And through all the dark
you give us light.

Copyright © 2018 Patricia Crandall