Trilliums for Mother’s Day

brenda olmstead

By Brenda Olmsted

Over thirty years ago, I received my first trillium for Mother’s Day. We moved into our house outside of Bigfork the winter of 1983. The yard was, as yet, undeveloped and the surrounding woods and overgrown natural vegetation was buried under deep snow.

As soon as the snow had melted enough for us to walk through the tangle of undergrowth, I took my daughter and son out to explore our new home. We climbed over downed lodge pole and birch trees, skirted prickly woods’ rose shrubs and stomped through barely-visible wild strawberry plants until we were ready to return inside. Several weeks passed and we ventured out as often as the weather would permit.

One day my daughter found a white flower under a fallen tree. The delicate petals caught her attention in the dark undergrowth where so little sun penetrated the canopy of tall pines. She picked the flower and carried it into the house where we placed it in a glass of water. It sat on the window sill above the kitchen sink for days, slowly dying. Later, I searched books with the flower in hand and discovered its name: trillium grandiflorum, white trillium.  trillium

The following year, when the sun penetrated the trees and warmed the ground, the trilliums emerged and we again placed several in a glass of water on the windowsill. That Mother’s Day, after returning home from church, my two oldest children disappeared outside with their baby sister toddling behind them. Within a few minutes they returned, each holding a trillium in their little hand. “Happy Mother’s Day,” they chimed together.

A tradition was born. From then on, every Mother’s Day,  there was a race to see who could find the first flower. In those early years, there was always a glass or two full of trilliums sitting on the window sill each spring, some bright and cheerful, some already withered. As the years passed, we learned more of their true nature. These spring flowers, too delicate for the summer heat, grew in the rich loam of the forest where a shaft of sunlight penetrated to warm their roots. We learned to pick only the flower, leaving the leaves intact on the plant so more would grow the following year. Even so, as the children grew and our yard became more cultivated, the fewer and fewer we saw of the trilliums. Still, I received a trillium every year on Mother’s Day.

Then, we moved into Kalispell, Montana where there are no trilliums poking out in a patch of sun. For several years the tradition was lost, until one Mother’s Day, my daughter gave me a flat box wrapped in white and green tissue paper. When I opened it, there was a watercolor of trilliums, which she had painted during her first watercolor class.

The picture hangs in a place of honor in our living room; a reminder of those races, little  hands holding trilliums and a chorus, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

    She Said
She never said the morning was old,
or that the sunrise went unseen.
What she said was, the way the stars shone
reminded her that the sky was an object
of intense beauty—burning away the dew,
and the reason she enjoyed the sunset
was for the splendor of the dross. 

She never said the morning was old.
What she said was, to milk the sky of all it has to say
would be impossible, but the stories it could tell!
Dropping hints with shooting stars, aurora borealis
and the moon’s globe always half hidden,
reflecting earth’s star—the great shine,
sending rays of hope, and to discover for what
purpose the planets are aligned.

She never said the morning was old.
What she said was, the earth has its own secrets:

the sight of green across a rain-soaked field,
overripe fruit dropping to the garden floor,
the quickening of a hummingbird’s wings,
magnetic forces underfoot and those places
where laughter can be heard; and still, none so beautiful
as a child’s hand reaching upward.

Brenda Olmsted grew up surrounded by dinosaur bones in the Badlands of Eastern Montana. She skipped rocks, searched for fishing lures and slept by campfires along the Yellowstone River where fishing for paddlefish is a seasonal sport. She moved to Bigfork, Montana in 1978, where she raised her family before turning her attention to writing. Sometimes she calls herself a poet. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family and traveling the roads throughout Montana with her amateur-photographer husband, Don.

Arbor Day Connections

By Karen Wills

Climate change thrusts us into a heightened awareness of nature. Oceans, lakes, meadows and trees are the living matrix of which we are a part.  Trees in particular have figured in much fiction and nonfiction of late. Of course, poets have long written about and concerned themselves with trees. overstory treesAmerican poet Robinson Jeffers planted about 2,000 seedlings on his sea cliff property near Carmel, California in the first half of the 1900s.

There is a kinship of us humans to trees. Tree deprivation became as real for me when we lived on the Alaskan tundra as it was for settlers living on the virgin prairies of America. I loved the big, empty tundra with its miles of tiny wild cotton, but trees have always meant shelter, the promise of something to lean against, and shade in the glare of summer. I missed them.

In a recent blog on my website I quoted from Joanna L. Stratton’s, Pioneer Women, which tells of a woman whose husband took her along on a journey to bring home wood. She’d not seen a tree for two years. “…when they arrived at Little River, she put her arms around a tree and hugged it until she was hysterical.”

That reminded me of when we lived on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. We explored the countryside, often peering into abandoned settlers’ houses. One was a stone cottage with a small grotto beside it sheltered by trees. The woman who pioneered there had walked nearly ½ mile each way every day carrying buckets of water to keep her seedlings growing. They flourished. She is gone, but her trees remain, providing homes for birds, being natural wind instruments, and soothing the prairie with their sighing leaves and branches.

An insightful novel about those who plant, nurture, and preserve not just trees, but whole forests, is The Overstory by Richard Powers–winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. One of its most interesting characters is a Vietnam veteran who finds his purpose in life replanting clear-cut, logged-out areas for a living. But he learns that replanting rows of trees earns his corporate employer permission to clear cut more and more forests at a greater profit. That knowledge drives the veteran to desperate, reckless acts.

Another character in The Overstory is Patricia Westerford who devotes her academic and personal life to the study of forests. According to Patricia, everything that happens in nature happens for a purpose. “The environment is alive—a fluid, changing web of purposeful lives dependent on each other.” She also concludes, “We’ve been shaped by forests for longer than we’ve been homo sapiens.”

To return to Jeffers, in his poem “Ghost” he imagines himself as a spirit revisiting the new owner of his former property.  He has the following exchange with the startled man:

“I see you have played hell
With the trees that I planted.” “There has to be room for people,” he
answers. “My God,” he says, “
That still!”

This Arbor Day, enjoy the forests if you can, plant a tree if you’re able, and take a deep breath. Feel your connection to the earth of which you are still a part.

When Change Comes is it Man that Counts? The Wild? Or Both?

by Mary Frances Erler

Today I ran across a book of poetry and quotes about wilderness that I made in response to a canoe trek I took in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters back in 1970.  mn boundary watersNearly 50 years ago–hard to believe so much time has passed in my life since then.  It was a very formative time in my life, influencing much of what I have become.  As I was reading the quotes I chose from Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, and others, I was surprised to find one unsigned poem.  I have a feeling I wrote it–otherwise it would be identified with the author’s name. It was a long time ago, 1970, but as I re-read it, I could tell the words had originally come from within me. And I was surprised to find that my 18-year-old mind had thought such deep things.  But then, maybe not so surprising, for I was a very philosophical person back then.  Maybe still am.  So here it is.

Its original title was “Is It Man That Counts?”

‘How can you be so no-caring?’ a boy demanded,
Staring into the old man’s eyes;
‘Do you want all our life to die
And leave nothing to show our lives ranged?’

‘Every animal dies,’ the old chief would say
And gaze with deep-seeing silent eyes
About the village around them.
‘Timeless is not changeless,’ he would repeat.

But a boy’s heart-strength is different
And his restless feet thus wandered,
Searching over forest-depth and countryside,
His mind straining with searches just as deep.

He drank in the wildness ’round him,
Knowing in his animal-part
It had no time, no beginning,
And no end?  Their village

Already was shrinking, the forest depths
Pricked by hard, cold disruption,
A steeling chill so unlike winter–
More senseless–as rape or pillage.

And as the Wild spread its winter
Blanket, with its natural death,
He prayed that this might be
The end–to die as wild things died.

Then as the cold and steel creeping in
On them increased its breath to a roar,
He knew it wasn’t death that was coming–
Just as the old man had tried

To tell.  It was what the Wild was really
Made of; so though their villages–
And all men–passed; the Wild would
Sustain itself–timeless because it changed.

Confessions of a Historical Fiction Fanatic

By Janice McCaffrey

Lately I’ve been thinking about the ramifications of reading historical fiction. Does it smother history under make believe? Or does it inspire readers to reach outside of their comfort zones.

For me historical fiction often whet’s my appetite for facts. That curiosity leads me to research and of course to Google. Over the years I’ve collected eclectic facts from around the world.

But last year a seemingly innocent choice took over my life.

I watched an international historical fiction TV series, Magnificent Century(Netflix.com). And now my family and friends roll their eyes if I so much as mention the word “Turkey.” Even during this holiday season.

I can’t help it!

I fell in love with Sultan Süleyman I   suleyman

. . . of course the actor who portrayed him, Halit Ergenç didn’t hurt.

Süleyman was the Ottoman Empire’s longest reigning Sultan (1520-1566). He set fair taxes and protected ethnic and religious minorities. He updated the Empire’s code of law and instituted free education for boys. He’s responsible for the Empire’s unique artistic legacy. He wrote poetry, was an accomplished goldsmith, and led the world in architecture building mosques and public buildings. In Jerusalem he restored the Dome of the Rock and the city walls (still the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls) and renovated the Kaaba in Mecca.

And what a romantic! During the same era Henry VIII was arguing with the Pope about a divorce, Süleyman changed the law so he could not only marry his favorite concubine, Hurrem, but also live with her. He even bent the mores of the day inviting her to council meetings and taking her advice on matters of state. She was an important diplomat especially between the Ottoman Empire and her native Poland.

Fascinated with the Ottoman Empire and Halit I’ve gone on to an array of historical and contemporary movies, TV shows and books, both fiction and non-fiction. I highly recommend The Butterfly’s Dream (Netflix) a touching story based on two lesser-known Turkish poets, Rüştü Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu.

Over the past several months I’ve experimented with traditional Turkish recipes and learned lyrics to a few of their popular songs. And, yes, I’m working on the language (thanks Free Turkish Lessons Online or I should say soğul (pronounced sowl).

I guess the answers to my original questions can be both yes and no. It depends on the person doing the reading.

This personal admission of my fanaticism is just one example of historical fiction’s ability to promote a readers’ expansion of knowledge. I’m thankful for authors who give us the facts blended with imagination.

And I wish all of you a very Şükran Günü kutlu olsun (Happy Thanksgiving)

 

January, 2017, Book News

2017

Montana Women Writers wish you all a Happy New Year

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I just learned a new phrase, liminal time, meaning time on a threshold, or time between phases of life. Perfect for the move from one year to the next, don’t you think?

I’m just moving from one project to the next myself, writing “the end” to the first — and very rough! — draft of a psychological suspense novel which will now rest for a few months while I write the 2018 Food Lovers’ Village mystery, set at Christmas time in the village of Jewel Bay. And I will say it’s nice to start a book set in the current season — a lot less taxing on the imagination, and easier to get in the mood! I’ll be home most of the winter, with a short trip mid January to speak to members of the Orange County (California) Chapter of Romance Writers of America on common mistakes writers make about the law.

 

flowers-by-hansen-pink-roses

Marie F Martin will be at Flowers by Hanson’s Taste and See Event on Friday, January 6th, 5:00 PM to 8 Pm. Hansen’s is located at 128 Main, Kalispell, MT.
Sparrows Nest, Special Olympics. Homes for Veterans, Sudden Rush Espresso in Somers, Table Tree Cherry Juice and Flathead Lake Cheese will all have tables.
Marie and three other local authors, Shirley Rorvik, Sara Weaver and Nancy Moser will be signing their books.
It will be a fun time of meeting and greeting and drawings. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local non-profits.

Marie hopes to see you there.

www.mariefmartin.com  book-covers-2

 

 

 

 

A new edition of Modern Birth Control is now available as an e-book and modern-birth-control-kindle-coverpaperback on Amazon. The 44-page booklet is a quick reference containing essential information for both men and women. You’ll find basic biological facts, OTC and prescription contraceptive options, along with information on sexually transmitted diseases and sexual assault.

E-book: http://tinyurl.com/ModernBC-Kindle

Your Heart – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in Women, Men and Children is now available at a reduced price on Amazon in your-heart-book-cover-final-1-ed1both Kindle and paperback. This reviews the science behind coronary artery disease, prevention and treatment for the number one cause of death in both men and women. Learn about the Mediterranean 5/2 diet, a perfect way to lose a few pounds after the holidays and improve your heart health in 2017.

http://tinyurl.com/2017hearthealthy

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

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