A Good Home

Spring Sprung

The lovely thing about our cold, grey May is that every bloom lasted much longer than usual, while the birds and bees had a feast.

See? Always a silver lining in the garden.

Life is keeping me busy but I hope you are all safe and well. And yes, Allen at New Hampshire Garden, the trout lily leaf at top gets bigger each year but still no accompanying blooms. 7 to 10 years you said? 🌾

A Good Home

The Courage to Do Something

I had planned a lovely post about Mother’s Day. Then I read a moving post by Liz Gauffreau.

Her post included a review of the book Queenie’s Place and comments by  author Toni Morgan. Morgan reveals that the book was inspired by her own (American) experiences in the 60’s and 70’s.

Segregation of public washrooms, drinking fountains and buses and a sign declaring an area of N. Carolina “Klan Country” were part of it. She says:

“I always regretted that I hadn’t had the nerve to make a statement on the bus when I was younger. So I created a character in Doreen who experienced some of the things I had over the years, but had the courage to do something about it.”

Don’t we all wish we had had the courage to address a wrong? Moments where we turned away — perhaps out of fear for our safety, our jobs, friends or social status?  

Yesterday, I had 2 experiences that shook me. One was seeing the video of the young Black jogger in Georgia who was chased by two White men (one a former policeman) and shot to death. Then I saw photos of the young man’s mother and read her anguished statement. 

Here is yet another Black American woman who will be grieving on Mother’s Day.  

The second event was when a relative in America sent me an article he had written.  A young man known for being calm and clear-headed, he had written an article that was passionate, angry, and action-oriented. His fury was palpable.

He is White.  His wife, a brilliant and influential Black woman, is confident in most aspects of her life — but fearful of police. My relative wrote as an “ally” with up-close knowledge of what it’s like to fear police officers as potential killers.  

I suggested ways to make the article more effective, but I did not tell my relative that reading it shook me up for long minutes. 

Then I started singing a Bob Marley song whose words came from Haile Selassie decades ago:

“Until the philosophy that holds one race superior & another inferior is finally & permanently discredited & abandoned

Until there are no longer 1st-class & 2nd-class citizens of any nation

Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes

Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race

Until that day, the dream of lasting peace & world citizenship & the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.”

It didn’t calm me. Instead, it reminded me: attaining basic human rights for all is a formidable struggle – and it requires all people of conscience to do something.

I see so many tweets saying that we Black people are on our own: that “White people cannot be trusted” to do what’s right to help achieve justice and equal human rights for all.  I don’t believe that.

I believe we each have a role to play. That the big brave acts may overwhelm us, but each of us is capable of a small act of courage.  Even after we have failed to “make a statement on the bus”, we can rally and make a difference to someone’s life.

We can take part in protest marches, walks or runs, vote for our beliefs, join initiatives to bring about change, or take one of many other steps.   We can commit to acting as allies for a more just society. And sometimes, we can step across that invisible line and write an article (or even a book) that challenges people like ourselves to find a bit of courage, to do something that could make a difference to others.

Our small acts of courage can ripple across the pond and create big waves that could help more mothers to have a happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, Poetry

Annette Pateman’s Virtual Book Launch

With public launches suspended during the pandemic, more authors have taken to launching their books online.  Poet Annette Pateman is one of them.

On Tuesday she launched her new book, Spectrum, online from her home:

“We are in a global pandemic and we are all experiencing life at a different angle. So I focussed on enjoying the performance and bringing positive energy to it.  What I enjoyed most was the sense of sharing my stories with the public.”

Annette, born and raised in London, England, now lives and writes in Thunder Bay, one of northern Ontario’s most beautiful cities.

“I moved to Thunder Bay when my husband got a job here. I have been writing for years but moving to Canada has increased my interest and dedication. 

“My own background is in education as a trained science teacher. I worked in high schools for several years in the UK. I have also worked in community diversity work both here and in the UK.”

Blog Photo - Annette with Book

Annette was pleased to learn that the local library was planning to give online space to authors.  She prepared the instruments – a drum, tambourine and maracas — and selected an area of her house as a backdrop. She then set up her camera.

“It was a little disconcerting to perform my poems to a camera without an audience and no-one else in the house at the time.  However, I really enjoyed it. The sun was shining that day, which was uplifting, and the use of percussion instruments always anchors me in the performance of my work.”

The poems Annette read at her launch are all the more impactful because she’s an excellent performer who easily switches between a British accent and a Jamaican one, depending on the poem. (Her parents are Jamaican-born, and some of her poetry expresses her heritage.)

Her local library helped by distributing the video Live on Facebook:

And her favourite poem in Spectrum?

My favourite poem is ‘The Letter’ on page 45.  This is because it is based on the immigration story, from Jamaica to the UK, of my parents.  My mother received a letter from my father, who was already living in the UK in the 1960s and she knew she was going to the UK.

“However, another woman was left behind in Jamaica. When I wrote the poem it was the voice of the woman who was left behind that came to me so I wrote it from that point of view. I didn’t know that it would become my favourite poem in the book but whenever I read it people seem to respond to it positively.

“The woman who was left behind was the mother of my older sister…..”

To buy a signed copy of Spectrum for $22 including postage, contact Annette at annettepateman@yahoo.co.uk 

Spectrum is also available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spectrum-Annette-Pateman/dp/1714041549/

A Good Home, Nature, Poem

Nature vs. Humanity

There Will Come Soft Rains
Sara Teasdale

Blog Photo - Daffodils in Rain Trio

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

From The Language of Spring, edited by Robert Atwan, published by Beacon Press, 2003. Poet Sara Teasdale lived from 1884  to 1933, but her wartime poem feels appropriate during this time.

Thanks to Cathy for bringing it to my attention.