Saturday, October 25, 2008

As an intro, a little background on this story:

My eldest daughter is a highly sensitive person. She is different. She has always had a difficult time in this world - sounds are too loud; crowds are too close; emotions are too intense.

It was especially hard for her when she was in the 4th grade because everyone was "clique-ing", and, because she is different, she was being "cliqued-out". She would come home from school in tears and I would sit and listen.

You see, now that I am in my "Late Youth" I have discovered the secret of how to be the Dad of daughters. As dad, you are not supposed to "fix" it - you are just supposed to listen.

So I sat, and listened, and my heart broke because I remembered what a hard time I had when I was in 4th grade because I was that same kid - I am still that same kid.

So, I wrote this story for me, and for her, and for everyone else who is a little different. Because it is good to be "different".
The Vegetable Lady
Mark Lewis

The Vegetable Lady lives down our street.
Her flowers and gardens are always so neat.
And the love of her plants is never discreet.
That’s why she’s the Vegetable Lady.

She’s tall and she’s pretty, with hair like a storm.
Her gardening clothes are all comfy and warm.
And the dirt on her knees is always the norm,
For the hard-working Vegetable Lady.

We see her each morning on our way to school,
Singing and weeding with her digging tool.
To be in the garden seems always the rule,
For the wonderful Vegetable Lady.

The proof of her skill ’s in the baskets she brings,
Filled with squash fit for emperors and cabbage for kings.
With carrots and turnips and peppers on strings.
What a treat from the Vegetable Lady.

One day it was cloudy. I was cranky and cold.
My sweater was droopy. My socks were too old.
Home from school past her garden on my bike I rolled.
And I looked at the Vegetable Lady.

Her eyes were all shiny, her cheeks like a rose -
Her hat on her head and her glasses on nose.
And I looked and she looked. I was pale I suppose.
“What’s wrong?” asked the Vegetable Lady.

I got off my bike and walked in through her gate
I plopped down beside her not feeling too great.
Like a ball loosing air, I began to deflate,
As I said to the Vegetable Lady.

“First I fell down … and all the kids laughed at me.
Then I messed up a test - Then a pop fly got past me.
This whole ding-dong day has been one big catastrophe…
I give up, Mrs. Vegetable Lady.”

Well, she sat down beside me right there in the beans.
Dried off my cheeks, wiped my tears on her jeans.
She hugged me and whispered, “Life’s tough so it seems.”
“Walk with me.” said the Vegetable Lady.

She showed me her cucumbers, showed me her peas,
Zucchini, Swiss chard, watercress and fruit trees.
“There’s something in common amongst all of these.
Can you tell?” asked the Vegetable Lady.

“Each of these things grows with sunlight and toil.
And to help them to grow and to sprout and uncoil,
A bit of manure ’s mixed into the soil.
Stinky stuff.” quoth the Vegetable Lady.

So when in your life you feel clouds in your face.
And you’re down in the dumps, feeling blue like this case.
And it feels like manure ’s all over the place.
Think of this.” said the Vegetable Lady.

“The thing to remember when you’re feeling low,
Is bad stuff ‘s going to happen - but it helps you to grow!
So learn from it - thank it - and soon you will know,
You’ll be better.” said the Vegetable Lady.

Well just then the clouds parted, and down through the trees,
Came a warm ray of sun on a warm-scented breeze.
I jumped up and I hugged her! (She was still on her knees.)
“Thanks a lot, Mrs. Vegetable Lady!”

The Vegetable Lady lives down our street
Her flowers and gardens are so neat
And we wink at each other each time that we meet.
She’s my friend. She’s the Vegetable Lady.

I live in the Upper Left Coast of the USA. One fall-ish day, the wind was blowing outside and I decided it was time for tea. As I sat and listened to the kettle getting read to boil, this story steeped into my imagination.

The Tea Kettle Who Thought He Was the Wind

Mark Lewis

The wind outside was blowing a “Cup-of-Tea” afternoon.

She filled the Kettle with cold water; lighted the burner; set the kettle on the stove and went to find her book.

“Watch out for me!” clicked the Kettle, warming up.

“Don't get all stirred up!” spoke the Spoon.

The Kettle wheezed and whistled, popped and clicked.

“I am full of myself, and I am hot!” he simmered.

The Salt & Pepper began to shake.

“Don't worry.” said the Spoon.

“Aren't you afraid?” steeped the Tea, infused with fear!

“No,” smiled the Spoon, “I've been in hot water before!”

“He's being such a pain.” whispered the Window.

“What was that?” hissed the Kettle!

"Oh ... nothing!" replied the Curtains timidly, drawing back!

The Kettle bubbled and rolled, louder and louder!

“Oh no ... ” rattled the Teacup!

“I'm right behind you , dear!” said the Saucer.

And then, boasting and blustering at a full boil, the Kettle shouted,

“I am stronger than the Wind!”

He whistled and sputtered, seethed and steamed!

“I'm frightened!” said the Sugar Bowl sweetly, covering her ears.

The Creamer tried to separate himself.

The Teapot ducked under her cozy.

Finally, the howling Kettle fogged the kitchen window and laughed!

“Ha! Ha! Ha!”

The Wind, who had been listening, had heard enough!

He pushed open the kitchen window, rattled about the pots and pans and blew out the fire under the braggart!
“Pipe down!" whistled the Wind.

“He really burns me up!” said the Stove turning off the gas to be safe!

Red-faced, the Kettle cooled his heels.

Everyone in the kitchen cheered!

“What a bully!” scolded the Milk.

“Oh, Spoon,” crooned the Dish! “Run away with me!”

“Perhaps, when the cow jumps over the moon!” replied the Spoon.

And the moral of the story is:
Beware of being boastful
when you are simply full of hot air.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

8 o'clock and All's Well

This story came out of a very intense daydream I had about 30 years ago. I saw it all as if I was living it. It poured out of me in this format with very little editing needed.

8 o'clock and All's Well

Mark Lewis

I see a warm wood dark brown cabin, filled with light, hiding high in the wild.

You sit close by in wool wrapped quiet reading.

A fire sings softly to itself within the hearth.

I stand from my story-strewn worktable and stretch as I roll down my plaid, flannel shirtsleeves. I walk to the French doors and open them.

As I step out onto the porch, the winter welcomes me and teases every seam of my shirt as if to say, "Where is your overcoat?"

The view down the valley is wall-to-wall white with chimney-born serpents of smoke licking at the quieting sky.

A Jay, with his formal blue tails intact, arrives a bit over dressed for dinner at our bird feeder suspended from the eves of the cabin.

The world below winds away slowly into sunset.

The snow crunches cold between my fingers as I lean forward onto the porch railing and fling my breath on the wings of mists into the twilight.

I inhale a deep sigh and with it comes the colors of the winter - the pine, the snow, the stillness and the clean. I hold that rainbow of scents within me.

I close my eyes and listen to my heart as it beats out a sure and steady life within me. With my eyes still closed, I exhale and I hear my heartbeat chime in time with the ticking of the grandfather clock in the living room.

A wint'ry wind whistles past my ear, tugs at my hair and tries to snuggle it's icy cheek under my beard.

Then I feel your hands on my face as you "shoo" the vagabond breeze from your special place under my chin. I open my eyes to find you standing close beside me.

As my arm circles about you, you cup up closer to me and wrap your warmth around my waist. We stand as one and listen as the twilight sings the anthem of the evening which, in turn, ushers Night into his throne of darkness.

The stars chuckle holes in the fabric of the sky and the warp and woof clouds thread off to sleep.
I turn to you and we look into each other. Your eyes hold secrets soft and safe and I would gladly drown therein.

You take my hand and lean up on tip-toe to my ear. With warm words you whisper,
“Tea's ready.”

“I love you ...”, says I and your kiss catches the "..ou" of you and we stand forever in that moment.

Night smiles down to us as we turn and re-enter the warmth.

The cat sniffs the last threads of night as the door hushes home and the grandfather calls out,

“Eight o' clock, and all's well.”