“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.” (Shakespeare)
With the kids safely aboard, the crossing arm retracted and the flashing red lights turned off, the school bus pulled away from the curb, leaving the young parents in a wake of noisy fumes. A quick wave, one that likely wouldn’t be seen as youngsters are in their own element once aboard, signaled the end of one phase of their day and the start of the next, the work day.
They turned and walked hand-in-hand up the inclined drive, stopping for a moment on the veranda before heading off separately, he to his car and she inside the house for some final to-do’s before going to work, herself, I imagine.
At that moment before separating, in a somewhat theatrical move that belied its spontaneity, they embraced. Their arms wrapped around each other, her back arched under his guidance, and he bent to kiss her. Her leg lifted slightly, reminiscent of the iconic photo of a sailor and nurse in Times Square at the end of WWII. It was a brief but beautiful interlude of love, love on the veranda
* Note: ‘If You Can’t Be There, Then Write A Story’, #4
For Ben & Summer
Oh, what to do on a hot summer’s day…
That was the challenge facing the FROG, the HOG and the DOG on a hot summer day…
The first day of summer was so hot and the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog were doing what good friends like doing on hot summer days, or any days, they were enjoying being together…
The day was too hot to hop, too hot to stomp and too hot to romp, nevertheless, the three friends knew just what to do…
The frog, the hog and the dog gathered along the edge of a nearby pond under a huge shade tree. While cooling my feet in the pond waters, I watched them with my trusty binoculars, as they tried their very best to stay cool…
The small friend, the green frog, sat on a lily pad in the pond, which helped cool its smooth skin…
Sometimes, it would slide into the water for a refreshing swim
The small frog thought that staying wet was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
The big friend, the pinkish hog, flopped its rather big body in the muddy edge of the pond under a gigantic shade tree…
Because the hog was so big and so heavy, it sank into the soft mud, way up its wide sides, over its bottom and nearly covering its curly tail. The hog found the muddy water cool and comforting…
The big hog thought that laying in the mud on its side…
on its belly…
and on its back…
was a perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
The medium size friend, the black and white dog with thick long hair, decided just to lay on the ground and rest…
The tall green grass nearly covered the dog’s eyes, nevertheless it could still see its friends by the pond, preferring to stay on dry ground, itself, deep in the blanket of soft, cool grass.
The dog thought that laying down and letting its tongue hang out the side of its mouth…
was the perfect way to stay cool on a hot summer day…
And while the frog, the hog and the dog relaxed under a shade tree, on a lily pad, in the mud, and on the grass, they could still see and speak to each other, friend to friend to friend, all about the fun times they have together…
And that is how the three friends, the frog, the hog and the dog stayed cool on a hot first day of summer…
What do you do with your friends to stay cool on hot summer days?
Note: If you can’t be there, then write a story #3
For Ben & Summer
A Story About Friends
This is a story of three very different friends, a FROG, a HOG and a DOG, and the fun they had when the rain stopped and the sun peeked from behind the clouds.
The smallest friend, a FROG, had smooth green skin and made funny noises with its throat, ‘Ribid’, ‘Ribid’!
The biggest friend, a HOG, had rough, pinkish skin and made grunting noises with its nose, ‘Grunt’, ‘Grunt’!
The medium size friend, a Dog, had skin covered with thick black and white hair and made barking noises with its mouth, ‘Woof’, ‘Woof’!
It didn’t matter to the frog, the hog and the dog that they were different, they just enjoyed each other’s company, especially when the rain stopped, because you know what you have when the rain stops…
All sorts of puddles: BIG and SMALL puddles, WIDE and NARROW puddles, DEEP and SHALLOW puddles. oodles and oodles of puddles…
And what do you do with puddles? The frog, the hog and the dog knew…..
Jump in them!
Stomp in them!
Run in them!
First, the frog jumped in a puddle and made a small splash. After all, the frog was the smallest friend. But the frog was having too much fun to be concerned about the size of its splash. Look at that big frog smile!
Next, the hog squatted it’s bottom in a puddle and made the biggest splash. After all, the hog had the biggest bottom.
The hog was having so much fun, so it splashed in another puddle.
This time the hog stomped up and down on its hind legs snd waved its front legs, which wasn’t easy because the hog was so big. Puddle water splashed everywhere…
Just look at that happy hog face…
Finally, the dog ran into a puddle, went one direction, then went the other direction before rolling in the puddle. The dog was covered with muddy puddle water from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, except for one spot. Can you find it?
The dog had so much fun. Just look at that happy dog face…..
As I enjoyed watching the frog jump, the hog stomp, and the dog run through the puddles, I was distracted by the cheerful sounds of children playing in the distance.
With my trusty binoculars, I was able to see a boy and girl playing in their own puddles. They wore the perfect boots for jumping, running and stomping, a blue pair and a pink pair.
Covid-19, thé pandemic and all, sure has thrown a monkey wrench into family gatherings, hasn’t it?
As first time grandparents, we see the tots on ‘FaceTime’, but you can’t hug a phone and expect an emotional response.
What about letter writing to the kiddos? Give them something to hold that came from you. A sheet of paper?
Here’s an idea. Take the letter writing a step further and write a story about something that is going on in your daily life. They’ll read it over and over. Well, their parents will. Maybe you can read it yourself on a FaceTime.
I did just that, wrote a story, and it’s been fun. It had to be a real story, something that actually happened with a fair dose of ‘writer’s license’. That is, I could stretch the truth a bit just to make it more fun.
Here’s the story, The Troublesome Stone. if you have young grandchildren, or your own little ones,?this would be a fun story to read. You may have to enlarge the pictures to read each page.
* I wrote this several years ago and intended to post it on Valentine’s Day. Still, the message is clear. There is love all around, sometimes we need to look. Happy belated Valentine’s Day!
It was a moment in time, in the open for all to see. I saw it, love in a parking lot. Others may have missed it, not me. And there was no mistaking what it was, love, pure and simple.
In an act of old-fashioned chivalry, a tall, sophisticated looking man tenderly draped his arm around the shoulders of his attractive companion, gently moving her closer to him. His comforting smile exuded confidence. Her upward glance signaled approval, as though she, herself, had encouraged him.
They walked deliberately, amid a swarm of busy shoppers rushing to buy supplies before the storm, too consumed with Mother Nature, perhaps, to see it. But I saw it, the wonderful and rare public display of affection, love in a parking lot.
People are hurrying and scurrying, so focused on where they’re going or where they’ve been, that they often miss where they are. Not me. I’m always looking! Life is full of wonderful moments, if we avail ourselves of the opportunity to see them. Too often, in our haste, we miss the ‘theatre’ around us.
Not me. I enjoy watching people. My wife calls it ‘staring’, I call it ‘observing’. I see the remarkable and unremarkable, the pleasant and unpleasant, the ordinary and not so ordinary. I multitask with my eyes and ears, not passing the time so singularly focused that I miss life’s sometimes ‘bigger moments’, like love in a parking lot.
As for the ‘lovers’, I was not surprised to learn they were married 45 years. And this one moment of him protecting her from the icy wind by drawing her closer to his warmth, affirmed to me their mutual and enduring love.
I hope more people saw it, too, their love for each other, on display in a parking lot, because in a brief but poignant moment between two people, two lovers, I was uplifted. It made me smile.
From time to time, if you’re looking, ‘observing’, you may be fortunate to witness true love, too, or some other special moment. I’m always looking!
Dedicated to those of us who are ‘always looking’ and for people in love, everywhere
A young lady will ‘meet’ her great grandfather for the first time, thanks to a small tin box of flies and a good story teller. She has the story teller, her grandmother, my sister, and soon will have the flies, a small metal box of fishing flies, tied by the skilled hands of her great grandfather, four generations earlier.
Imagine, a family heirloom, of sorts, being passed down, not to a daughter, nor a granddaughter, but to a great granddaughter. Not a fancy piece of furniture, nor a sparkling broach, but flies. From one long-passed outdoorsman to a young vibrant outdoors woman, three generations removed.
My dad was an avid fisherman who enjoyed making his own lures. He turned wood dowels into ‘plugs’* on a lathe, and strung eels for surf fishing in the rough waters off the duned beaches of Cape Cod. He tied flies, lures that mimicked real flies, to attract trout in the placid ponds populating the rural countryside of central Massachusetts. He was proficient, passionate and a perfectionist about both skills, making the lures and catching the fish.
I kept his tin of flies, and other lures, upon his passing, some 40 years ago, as a reminder of the man. But these feathered and fuzzy creations go back even further in time, at least twenty years prior to his death. Hunched over a folding metal table, squinting through bifocals balanced on the end of his nose, and surrounded with the tools of his ‘art’, he meticulously hand crafted faux bugs to the smallest detail.
Supplied with an array of brightly covered feathers, buck tails, various size hooks, a vise to hold them and thread to join all the components tightly together, he would produce stunning replicas of the local insects that he hoped would help him land the next ‘big one’. A reference book of flies always lay open next to him as he meticulously tied them to the exact specifications, as outlined.
This story isn’t about catching fish, though. It’s not about about tying flies, it’s about a man, his passion and preserving his love of the outdoors by gifting an ‘heirloom’. It’s about connecting with following generations to keep his story alive. And, it’s about love.
It’s very likely that if my dad was here today, then he, Adie and her dad would be at the closest fishing hole, enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company, maybe spinning yarns of ‘the one that got away’.
“Adie, I want you to have these flies. Use them to catch the big one!”
Great Grandpa Bottcher
To Adie and avid young outdoors lovers, everywhere. ‘Keep a tight line’ and keep making memories.
And, to June, my big sister, Adie’s grandma
*Plug (Swimming Plug) – A hard plastic or wood artificial lure that is usually cast and retrieved or sometimes trolled.