Scenes from the Kitchen Window

Scene 1 – Early Morning

A red-wing black bird, two gray doves, bright red cardinal and motley brown sparrows

Scene 2 – Mid Morning

Four gray doves, gray/black titmouse, zebra striped/red headed Downy Woodpecker and the motley brown sparrows

Scene 3 – Lunch Time

Three red-wings, yellow-green/yellow/zebra-striped goldfinches, two blue jays with black and white markings, black/gold filigree starlings and the motley brown sparrows

Scene 4 – After Lunch

A gray/white/black nuthatch, gray dove, purple-headed house sparrow, two motley red-green-gray-brown momma cardinals and the motley brown sparrows

Scene 5 – Climax, Mid-Afternoon

Then a large gray/brown/white soft blob of a cottontail bunny moves through among reds, grays, blues, blacks, yellows, zebra stripes, and browns, throwing everything out of order for a few seconds

Closing Scene – Denouement

The bunny remains calm, everyone returns to eat—color and action tranquilly unite through the Kitchen Window, viewed on Easter weekend


Panic in the Crawl Space

Peck peck rat-a-tat peck rat-a-tat

I look up at the ceiling

Not a mouse or squirrel, they gnaw

Peck peck bang

Not a sparrow, it claws, scrapes

I stand on a chair, whack the ceiling



Husband goes outside

No openings

Later, we enter the garage

Must get groceries

Startled by a large white and red

fluttery, panicky bird

flapping everywhere, desperately

slamming into the windows

Husband opens the garage door

letting a red-bellied woodpecker

swiftly swoop to freedom

after a whole day looking for escape

We had no clue a bird that big

had gotten trapped in the garage

Just glad it wasn’t a mouse…

The Lean-to and the Snake

(Written as a memoir prompt practicing with the senses)

In Phoenix, 1957, Mom gave birth to me, her first child, at 4:01 on a Thursday afternoon, at the Phoenix Osteopathic Hospital. A few years after that, my folks bought their first house out in the stark desert area, playfully called Paradise Valley. I remember all the times when, in between working two jobs, Dad took me for walks in the desert, probably to give Mom a much needed break, since by then, she also had my toddler sister, Callie, and baby sister, Gracie.

Dad and I roamed (miles and miles to my six-year old mind) about a quarter mile into the desert. He showed me how to build a lean-to shelter for protection from the hot sun. We collected dead, long, silvery-white colored, acacia tree branches, and Dad let me help him construct an A-frame lean-to, while enjoying the smell of the flowers blossoming on the desert plant life. When we finished our shelter, we’d spend hours underneath the shade (to my six-year old mind, but was probably only an hour at the most). Dad told stories about when he was a kid in North Dakota on a farm or when he was in the Navy and met Mom. He even let me tell him stories that I dreamed up, experimenting with a young but vivid imagination.

Once in a while, we’d bring my sister, Callie, when she was about four years old. While bees buzzed around tree flowers, and desert cicadas rattled and rustled their singing drone sounds, Dad told us Bible stories and sang church songs to us with his soft, shy, deep voice. I loved the one about the little flowers that open and the little birds that sing (he sang that one, too, at night before we fell asleep). We ate snacks and collected more branches to do any mending on the lean-to, if the wind had messed with it. Sometimes, Dad helped us look for ancient Apache arrowheads, but we never found any.

One time, when I was almost seven years old, Dad, Callie and I walked back home, stirring up the desert sand and feeling the breezes touch our hot skin after it blew through the scrub bushes and desert trees. We came upon two teenagers, wearing cowboy hats, riding brown horses single file (I noticed things like that because Roy Rogers was my hero). They carried a very long, dark rope stretched loosely between them. Except, it wasn’t a rope! Dad got real excited and started talking with the riders, who had been rattlesnake hunting. They had caught and killed the largest rattler they had ever come across!

After visiting for a few minutes, we finished walking home, talking up a storm about the horses, riders and the very long, very dead, monstrous rattlesnake. All of us had fun telling Mom and baby Gracie our versions of what we had seen that afternoon.

Today, over fifty-years later, I still think about that silvery-white, acacia lean-to in the desert, and a young father doing his best to make good memories for his little girls.1961or1962Tam1

(Me and my imitation of Roy Rogers)




A Long White Day

(Deep fog yesterday early, to light fog, deep fog, light fog…all day)

A mound of white cotton presses down

squeezes low

swabs around, dabs around

sore wounds of the Fall


A fog of winter white compresses

soothes bare trees

missing leaves, losing leaves

aching from the Fall