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Posts Tagged ‘Louisiana’

What do you do with a perfect day?

Sky’s a clear blue… let’s canoe…bayou still…no wind…smooth strokes…sun setting slow…an orange glow behind the towering smoke stack…abandoned mill…concrete riprap…a nest for trash…discarded life tokens.

A distant roar…speed boat…they see us hanging at the edge…cut the motor……push, pull, turn…cross waves…speed on.

Crossing under the bridge…sun’s gone…sky darkens…paddle strengthens…then we hear it…a distant hoot…the owl swishes overhead…beginning his hunt…who-cooks-for-you-you-all familiar call…calling sunset’s end… pull to dock…warm glow of home.

The idea for this poetry format came from Poets and Writers The Time is Now Writing Prompts. 

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

The rain started early Friday morning.  I knew this was a serious rain because school was cancelled 5 minutes before I walked out the door.  The rain stayed for days, falling in sheets for hours and hours.  By Friday afternoon, the news media was calling this an Historic Flood.  One of my colleagues posted on Facebook that her house was going under.  I watched and waited.  Finally a text came that she and her family were rescued and safe.

But the rain kept falling.  By Saturday morning, I went into a panic.  The bayou water had not risen this high in the 12 years we’d been living here, and neighbors said not in 20+ years.  This was truly an historical event.

The sun peeks through the trees. Water is up to the back step.

We put the furniture up, rolled rugs, emptied book shelves, and watched and waited.

Sofas raised up on kitchen chairs. Mimi watches the sun come out.

Sofas raised up on kitchen chairs. Mimi watches the sun come out.

Then on Sunday morning, the sun came out.  The water was a few feet from our back door, but it hadn’t come in.

Not everyone in our area was as lucky.  This incessant rain was worse than any hurricane.  And the flood waters did not discriminate.  Everyone here knows someone who is cleaning up today.

Painting the rain, collaborative work by a mother and son at the shelter.

Painting the rain, collaborative work by a mother and son at the shelter.

 

In my gratitude, I went to the shelter in our City Park to help out with an art activity with the kids.  It was crazy and messy and just what I needed.

Messy art is the best kind!

Messy art is the best kind!

 

Today, I want to focus on the sunshine.

The sun will come out.
We know this is true.
There is always light after the rain.

reflection flood poem

 

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Twitter is buzzing this morning. My friends in cyberspace are posting images of their writing spaces. Such a fun way to connect with other teacher/writers. My writing space is messy. I sit at the kitchen table most days because Charlie (my dog) is here, so he keeps me company. Mimi, the cat, is often lying on some random piece of paper. What is it about cats and paper? I have a tablet for notes, a leather journal for quick poems, and my school notebook where many ideas are stored. I celebrate time to sit here, connect with others, and write.

#Iwritehere

#Iwritehere

Celebrating Rainbows: The good thing about summer rain showers (which are happening daily) is rainbows. I know the science behind a rainbow, but I still marvel at the sight and believe in the promise. May your summer be filled with rainbows.

Thursday morning rainbow

Thursday morning rainbow

Celebrating coffee shop visits: Yesterday I had two coffee shop dates. A wonderful way to relax and reconnect with friends over summer days.

I'm in between Jen and Sandy.  Coffee cups and friends!

I’m in between Jen and Sandy. Coffee cups and friends!



Celebrating antique shopping:
This is a rare treat for me, to wander through an antique market. This one is next to the Joie De Vivre Coffee Shop in Breaux Bridge, Lagniappe Antiques Mall. Lagniappe is a French word that means a little something extra. That’s an understatement. It was a warehouse full of somethings extra. I bought a few things that jumped off the shelves at me, silver napkin rings, a 1961 Life magazine, and vintage postcards.

Lagniappe Antiques Mall

Lagniappe Antiques Mall

Antique store finds, a 1961 Life magazine and vintage postcards.

Antique store finds, a 1961 Life magazine and vintage postcards.

What are you celebrating today?

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Serenity

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

NCTE Presentation Flier

Anticipation is building for the 2014 NCTE Convention. I’ve gotten the catalog and my badge. My bag is waiting to be packed. And I have laryngitis. Yes, you heard me. I am nursing it with hot tea and rest. I hope I will have a voice by Thursday when I accept the Donald Graves Award and on Friday when I present with my friends from the National Writing Project Professional Writing Retreat. If you are there, I’d love to meet you. The Two Writing Teachers Blog writers are having a Slicers dinner on Saturday night. I look forward to meeting many fellow bloggers there.

Sunset at Lake Martin, Breaux Bridge, LA.

Sunset at Lake Martin, Breaux Bridge, LA.

This weekend a group from our church went on a canoe trip on Lake Martin. Lake Martin is a beautiful wildlife preserve where cypress woods grow and birds nest. We even saw two bald eagles high in matching trees. It was an overcast cool day around 54 degrees, but welcomed with no mosquitoes or humidity.

We paddled around the lake to the edge of the bird sanctuary where white ibis were nesting. Thousands dotted the trees with snow white wings. When we got close enough to see them, they took off. I made a quick video of this (It’s a bit shaky; I was in a canoe.) In the background you can hear my husband explaining the Cajun French word for Ibis, “bec croche,” means crooked beak.

On the road to Lake Martin, we passed a burning cane field. The field of sugarcane is traditionally burned before harvesting to make it easier to transport. There is controversy over whether this is harmful to the environment. To me, it is the scent of fall, smokey and sweet. Take a moment to listen to the burning of the cane field.

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Slice of Life Day 25.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 25. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

yellow top, butterweed

Driving down the road,
I stop to praise the wildflowers
guarding the gully
like yellow-billed soldiers.

I praise your sensible size,
clustered in God’s bouquet,
open to the arrival of bees,
spreading the wings of spring.

Your beauty is the first swamp color,
popping up in winter’s wake.
A glorious butterweed ribbon
unbounded, blowing in the fresh breeze.

Even with your death, you feed us,
such is the circle of life,
from compost to crawfish,
trapped, boiled, and Cayenne-peppered,
just in time for Good Friday Feasts.

–Margaret Simon

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Poetry Friday is here today!  Post links in the comments!

Poetry Friday is here today! Post links in the comments!

This summer I have been participating in Tabatha Yeats’ Poem Swap. In writing a poem a week, I have been discovering threads in my writing. I love nature, not to be confused with a love of gardening. But I often look to nature for my poetry wisdom. I recently sent a group of poems to a contest. I titled the group “Among the Oaks.” When I walk in my neighborhood, I look to nature for inspiration, everything from the water of the bayou to the birds in the trees, and, of course, the trees themselves. When Tabatha sent me my 4th name, I was thinking, “OK, this time I will write something for that person.” But the poem turned out to be another nature poem. I give up. This is where my pen wants to move, so I will follow it.

A poet friend once told me, “Write a poem every week and by the end of the year, you have 52 poems. A whole manuscript!” I have not put together a whole manuscript of poems. I’m frankly scared to think about it. Perhaps I can follow this nature thread to a whole book? Then I fear the inspiration will end. Hah, you thought you knew what you were doing. Nope, not yet.

I have gotten so much inspiration and encouragement from this Poetry Friday community. We seem to have unwritten rules of respect and appreciation. Since many of you will stop in today to link up, I just wanted to thank you. Thanks for reading, commenting, encouraging, and being a lover of poetry.

Neighborhood Oaks photo collage by Margaret Simon

Neighborhood Oaks photo collage by Margaret Simon

I took these pictures in my neighborhood. It had rained the night before, so the resurrection fern was full and green. The moss was particularly shiny and wiggling in the wind. The title came first, which is seldom the case. It came from a statement my father made about a heron on his dock, “She is queen of all she surveys.” I loved the line and thought how it would apply to the live oak. The poem did not come as easily, and I am still not completely satisfied. It started off much more prose-like. I cut words, moved stanzas around. All this work ended up taking me to the same place a few other poems have this summer, to the idea of the mother, the mother in nature that loves us unconditionally and protects us always.

(I want to thank Tabatha for her suggestion for this poem’s ending. I have made these changes. See what I mean about a supportive and helpful community?)

What threads do you see in your poetry? How do you follow or resist these threads?

She is Queen of all She Surveys

Mother oak stands
for generations,
her long arms
clothed in fern,
open and green.

Here the mockingbird
defends her nest, squawking
at the passing squirrel.
Hanging moss wiggles grey fingers,
tickling the wind.

I want to live here
in her branches
among the birds
nestled in fern,
swaying, free,
still holding on to my mother
with tight fists.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

Father Goose is here with light verse poems from the new online Light Quarterly today from his perch in the treehouse at the FATHER GOOSE Blog

Matt has a poem about George.

Myra at Gathering Books continues with her Loss, Heartbreak, and Coming of Age bimonthly theme with Frida Kahlo’s letter to Marty McConnell.

Mary Lee Hahn has a poem about habits at A Year of Reading.

At Random Noodling, Diane Mayr has an illustrated poem that she wrote to send to a Summer Poem Swap partner. Kurious Kitty is looking at snakes today with a poem by Margaret Atwood. KK’s Kwotes has a quote by Frances Clarke Sayers.

Laura Shovan has a tree poem today, too. Hers is told from the point of view of a fifth grader with learning differences. Author Amok

Tara was inspired by an exhibition of Georgia O’Keefe’s leaves at A Teaching Life.

Tabatha Yeats at The Opposite of Indifference is writing about sirens and their irresistible songs.

Liz Steinglass is writing about nature, too, observing herself observing the natural world.

Carol at Carol’s Corner is sharing Bob Raczka’s seasons series and even giving away a book!

Robin Hood Black has an August poem by Albert Garcia.

Today at The Poem Farm, Amy has a small how-to poem and a visit from Margy Grosswendt. She tells about her recent travels to Bosnia where she volunteered in an orphanage and shared creative movement exercises with the children there.

Mandy joins in at Enjoy and Embrace Learning with a Hello original poem.

Steven Withrow has an original poem at Crackles of Speech, Chain Rhyme for Goldilocks.

Violet Nesdoly has a review of a friend’s chapbook, Humble Fare.

Anastasia posted a small poem about a large number of steps.

MM Socks has royalty on the mind with an original poem “Playing King.”

A short poem by Richard Brautigan entitled April 7, 1969 is on the menu at the Florian Cafe.

Semicolon Sherry has some thoughts on the Korean poems called Sijo, and on Linda Sue Park’s book called Tap Dancing on the Roof.

Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe has a reentry poem about the joy of 5-year-olds and a little dip-your-toes-in original.

Keri at Keri Recommends is sharing a poem gift from noodle-icious Diane Mayr for the Summer Poem Swap.

Joy Acey is waving to us from the top of a wavy poem at Poetry for Kids Joy.

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Slice of Life Challenge Day 25

Slice of Life Challenge Day 25

20130323-183650.jpg

This is a clogyrnach, a Welsh poetry form inspired by Paul at birds and trees of the mind. This wisteria blooms each spring outside my bedroom window. I think I write a poem about it every year.

Lavender locks lighten the sky.
In bloom, wisteria curls cry
sweet nectar of tears,
purple popcorn tears.
Bumblebees lick them dry.

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Slice of Life Challenge Day 21

Slice of Life Challenge Day 21

Driving home from school today with spring in the air, I took notice of my little town. Recently, New Iberia was recognized as one of CNN’s American Best Small Town Comebacks.
(If you scroll to the picture of New Iberia Main Street, you can see what very well may be my red Camry turning at the light.)

First Stop: Evangeline Theater, now known as The Sliman with The Bayou Teche Museum on its right. These restored buildings offer places to mingle with friends at a fundraising event or performance and a great field trip destination for students and adults to learn about the history of the area.

Main Street, New Iberia

Main Street, New Iberia

Next Stop: Church Alley, not a pleasing site, yet. A group of young activists have plans to spruce up the place and create a mini-park. This alley historically connected the convent across the bridge to St. Peters Catholic Church. In South Louisiana, towns built up around the church.

Church alley

Church alley

Third Stop: The Essanee Theater, now home to IPAL (Iberia Performing Arts League). On Sunday, I attended the current performance, Man of La Mancha. It was better than Broadway. The final performances are this weekend. You really shouldn’t miss it. New Iberia is home to many talented folks.

Essanee Theater, home to IPAL

Essanee Theater, home to IPAL

Last Stop: A&E Gallery. My friend and colleague, Paul Schexnayder opened this gallery a few years ago. Many artisans have joined to show and sell their work. Paul opens his doors for poetry readings, too. The next poetry night will be Saturday, April 20th at 6:30 featuring Louisiana’s former poet laureate Darrell Bourque whose new book of poetry chronicles the original Cajun people who settled the Acadiana area.

A and E Gallery

A and E Gallery

Each of these places occupies a historical space. You can feel the ancestors speaking to you. You can hear their words, “Welcome Home.”

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Slice of Life Challenge Day 18

Slice of Life Challenge Day 18


One year old alligators wait to be tossed into the wild swamp.

One year old alligators wait to be tossed into the wild swamp.

When you live in South Louisiana, you have to get used to eating crawfish (love them!) and boudin (haven’t developed a taste for this one.) We live near bayous, not rivers. We dance to Cajun and Zydeco music. And we wrestle with alligators! Not really. In fact, I’ve lived on the Bayou Teche for more than 8 years, and I have not seen one anywhere close to our yard. Nevertheless, the alligator is an important and sometimes frightful reptile around here.

When I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday, I enjoyed the pictures and video of one of my daughter’s friends, Lizzy. She and her mom had gone out that morning to a rice farm near Abbeville to help release baby alligators back into the wild. The farmers harvest the eggs and incubate them. In the spring, they hatch them. I recall years ago when these same farmers showed up in the parking lot of our school hauling crates of dead grass. When the crates were opened, we could see soft white eggs popping up from the grass bed. When the farmer handed an egg to a student, he instructed them to rub the eggs and the tiny alligator began to emerge. The stimulation helped them hatch out of the egg. Of course, in the wild, the momma gator rubs her eggs when the time comes. The kids were so thrilled to be hatching the little gators. I even did it, as scared as I am of reptiles.

The first gator to be tossed.  Behind notice all the bags.  Each holds 1-2 baby alligators.

The first gator to be tossed. Behind notice all the bags. Each holds 1-2 baby alligators.

Lizzy and her mom, Lisa were invited to help release some of the baby alligators that were hatched last year. They were tossing them into the swamp. According to Lizzy, the eggs had been harvested, incubated, and hatched a year ago. Because of the policies of Wildlife and Fisheries, a percentage of the hatch has to be returned to the wild. This is the way they do it. A grand celebration of lively gator tossing.

From Lizzy: ” It was fun to handle baby alligators (in a safe environment with skilled professionals). It was a bit scary when the animals wiggled around (I am a person who does not like the company of snakes because of their serpentine movements) since the motion is a bit creepy to me. I often forgot that their mouths were banded (before we tossed them), so when I would grab them from the sack/ground, my natural reaction was always to flinch each time the alligator lifted its head in defense. Overall, it was a lively and entertaining experience.”

This video shows Lizzy’s mom, Lisa, tossing a gator.

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Read other Slice of Life writers at The Two Writing Teachers

With all the stuff going on right now, there is no way I can make this Slice of Life post about one subject. Today, my head is spinning like the Tropical Storm/ Hurricane Isaac out in the Gulf ready to strike our state. Once again, we are in the path. We prepare by unplugging technology and putting trash bags over our classroom computers. We buy food and gas. We check with our relatives. As of this moment, my daughter in New Orleans has decided to stay. Hopefully, by the time you read this, she will be on her way home. For those of you outside of LA, we live in the arch of the boot two or so hours west of New Orleans. We will get wind and rain, lose some tree limbs, and the bayou will rise in the backyard. But our house is a fortress with a trusted generator named Sparky. We will be fine!

An afternoon chat with Coach Rhoades.


The other spin in my head is the sudden death of a friend, fellow teacher, Coach Brian Rhoades. Brian and his wife Eileen attended my book signing on Saturday night. They were all about supporting me in my new project. They talked to me about me, and now, Brian is gone. Shocked and sad, my heart goes out to Eileen, their children and grandchildren, and all of ESA’s faculty and students. He will be remembered for his kindness, humor, and love. What a terrible loss!

I was literally spinning Sunday night as Jeff and I attended the Lache Pas, a fundraiser for CODOFIL (Council for the Development oF French in Louisiana). What a huge success! The state funding for CODOFIL was cut by our governor by $100,000. So what does an Acadian community do? Have a party! We listened to Cajun jokes, danced the two-step and jitterbug to amazing bands, and ate fresh summer salad from Saint Street Inn. One thing that we love about our culture is the diversity. You have all kinds of people dancing with all kinds of people. I took a video that shows two little boys twirling around to the music.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PePv-bKFI2o&feature=youtu.be

So spinning I go into a hurricane remembering the kind smile of Coach Rhoades and the fine fun people of Acadiana who support our unique culture. No hurricane, especially Isaac, can destroy the strength of the people in Louisiana.

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