Feb. 22, 2009
"In that year, 1914, we lived on the farm
And the relatives lived with us.
A banner year for wild blackberries
Dad was crazy about wild blackberries
No berries like that now.
You know Kitsap County was logged before
The turn of the centuryit was easiest of all,
Close to water, virgin timber,
When I was a kid walking about in the
Stumpland, wherever you'd go a skidroad
Puncheon, all overgrown.
We went up one like that, fighting our way through
To its end near the top of a hill:
For some reason wild blackberries
Grew best there. We took off one morning
Right after milking: rode the horses
To a valley we'd been to once before
Hunting berries, and hitched the horses.
About a quarter mile up the old road
We found the full ripe of berrytime
And with only two pailsso we
Went back home, got Mother and Ruth,
And filled lots of pails. Mother sent letters
To all the relatives in Seattle:
Effie, Aunt Lucy, Bill Moore,
Forrest, Edna, six or eight, they all came
Out to the farm, and we didn't take pails
Then: we took copper clothes-boilers,
Wash-tubs, buckets, and all went picking.
We were canning for three days."
It's the birthday of George Washington, born in Westmoreland County, Virginia (1732). He was the first president of the United States, and he chose to serve only two terms, even though he probably could have served as president for the rest of his life. Two terms became the unofficial tradition for presidents until Franklin D. Roosevelt broke the tradition in 1940, and Congress had to mandate a two-term limit by an amendment to the Constitution.
It's the birthday of poet Gerald Stern, (books by this author) born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1925), the author of Lucky Life (1977), Leaving Another Kingdom (1990), Odd Mercy (1995), and last year, Save the Last Dance (2008).
It's the birthday of the best-selling mystery novelist Richard North Patterson, (books by this author) born in Berkeley, California (1947). His books include Degree of Guilt (1993), No Safe Place (1998), and The Race (2007). His latest novel, Eclipse, came out last month, a novel about the international oil trade, based on the life of the Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
It's the birthday of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, (books by this author) born in Rockland, Maine (1892). She went to Vassar College, where she wrote great poems and broke a lot of rules. The president of Vassar, Henry Noble McCracken, wrote to her: "You couldn't break any rule that would make me vote for your expulsion. I don't want a banished Shelley on my doorstep." She wrote back, "Well, on those terms I think I can continue to live in this hellhole." After college she moved to Greenwich Village, and countless men fell in love with her. When she gave poetry readings, she drew huge crowds of adoring fans. In 1923, she became the first woman poet to win the Pulitzer Prize.
She wrote, "My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends / It gives a lovely light!"
It's the birthday of Edward Gorey, (books by this author) born in Chicago, Illinois (1925). He's known as the author and illustrator of macabre books, including The Beastly Baby (1962), The Wuggly Ump (1963), and The Epiplectic Bicycle (1969).
His alphabet book The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963) proceeds through children who have been injured or killed: "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs. B is for Basil assaulted by bears. C is for Clara who wasted away. D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®