Mar. 23, 2007


by Rosie King

FRIDAY, 23 MARCH, 2007
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Poem: "Saturdays" by Rosie King, from Sweetwater, Saltwater. © Hummingbird Press. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


A whiff of eggs and bacon,
my red plaid shirt with snaps, blue jeans that
zip up the side—I'm running downstairs,
my mother's laughing, still in her apron,
on her tiptoes for the picnic basket.
My father's calling from the basement stairs,
already pulling his high-tops on,
my brothers scrambling in the hall closet for theirs.
I grab my toast—strawberry jam—
We're going!
                       We're on the running board
into the velvety back of the old blue Chrysler,
past the putting greens, the cemetery, over
the Tittabawassee on its bumpy bridge,
to the straight gravel road by fields and woods, and on
to the turn at last—the new green sign
to our farm! Split rail fences, first apple trees,
past Shad and Mary's paint-peeled shack,
up the little hill by the root cellar
here's the farm bell on its post, the yellow-brick house,
the old red barns, the silvery silo—
forty acres, pine woods beyond—
the sweet dry smell of hay, the steamy
stench of manure, and now, for us, the white-plumed
whinnies of horses.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day in 1989, a mountain-sized asteroid passed within 500,000 miles of Earth. According to NASA, this was a very close call. It would have hit with the strength of 40,000 hydrogen bombs, created a crater the size of the District of Columbia, and destroyed everything within 100 miles in all directions.

It was on this day in 1775 that Patrick Henry gave the speech that made his name to the Second Virginia Convention, proposing that the colony arm itself against the king to fight for independence. At a time when most members of the Virginia House of Burgesses wanted to wait and see if the conflict with England could work itself out, Patrick Henry argued that the time for waiting was over, and at the end of his speech he said, "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" The resolution passed by a narrow margin.

It was on this day in 1806 that Lewis and Clark pulled up stakes, after having spent the winter on the Pacific coast, and began their journey back East to report on what they'd found during their expedition. They had traveled about 4,000 miles since they'd left St. Louis, Missouri, and they'd been on the road for almost two years.

They knew that merchant ships occasionally sailed up the Pacific Coast, and they hoped that one of these ships might pick them up and take them back home by sea, so they wouldn't have to make the arduous overland journey again. But no ships arrived. So after a wet, miserable winter, they finally set out for home on this day in 1806. When they had left St. Louis in 1804, they'd been loaded down with blankets, tobacco, whisky, flour, salt pork, corn, writing desks, tents, and all kinds of tools. For the trip home, all they carried were the clothes on their backs, some food, a few of their tools, a lot of gunpowder, and their rifles. And by that time, they had spent 95 percent of their budget. It took them just six months to get back to St. Louis.

It was on this day in 1743, that George Frideric Handel's oratorio ''Messiah'' had its London premiere. The first performance of "The Messiah" was at a charity concert in Dublin. It got great reviews, but Handel wasn't satisfied with it, and spent almost another year revising parts of the score. It finally had its London premiere, in the audience of the king, on this day in 1743, and it was a great success.

During the famous Hallelujah Chorus, King George II was so moved by the music that he involuntarily stood up from his seat. The audience, out of respect for the king, also stood up. Ever since, it has been a tradition that the audience rises during the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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