Weekly photo challenge “Name”

Gloria

I spotted this abandoned boat yesterday morning, moored on a small creek in Westport, CT.  A name displayed on the bow was carefully written in simple block letters…GLORIA.  Captivating in its stillness with not a soul in sight, it instilled a feeling of both peace and melancholy.   Returning home I researched to discover the boat was owned by a gentleman who lived his entire life in Westport and worked as an oyster fisherman aboard the vessel. The boat was both his work and home, when weather permitted.  “Gloria” was the name of an old girlfriend who clearly left a mark on his heart.  He passed away recently yet the barge remains, a testament to earlier days and a time long gone.  This past Christmas, an unknown angel strung festive lights on the boat in memory of the late fisherman. It must have been a beautiful sight. I wonder if Gloria ever knew she was his muse?img_2682

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/names/

WPC – “Spare” – The Lonely Sweater

Spare (Defined) “Not currently in use; in reserve”

Glancing in the window of a recently closed children’s consignment shop, I spotted this tiny, orange sweater hanging forlornly in the now abandoned store front.  I pondered why this one vibrant item adorned with teddy bears, remained.  Perhaps a testament to a dream that was not to be or more simply that the sweater was left in haste?  I like to interpret it as a statement of fortitude left behind from the proprietor.   A symbol that whatever the future brings, he or she will survive.     I shall leave the interpretation to you gentle readers, but this melancholy image brought to mind the word spare for this week’s challenge.   

sweater

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/spare/

 

Autumn in Connecticut (Extra-Ordinary)

colorThe softened light, the veiling haze,

The calm repose of autumn days,

Steal gently o’er the troubled breast,

Soothing life’s weary cares to rest.

~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,” in The Queries Magazine, October 1890

color1

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/extraordinary/

In The Company of Women – A Tribute to My Father

Today is the ninth anniversary of my father’s death.  Quite simply, I believe he was the greatest father imaginable.  He left a legacy of love, laughter and life lessons embedded in my heart. In tribute, I have re-blogged a story I wrote in his honor.

dad
Me (lower left) with my two sisters and father. My youngest sister does not appear as she was born eight years later. This was my father’s passport photo taken back in the day when children appeared in picture with their parents.

“In The Company of Women”

cropped-image1.jpg
A photo of me and my sisters along with toy poodle Daisy, female too of course.
.

I was one of four daughters, attended all girl catholic schools my entire life, never knew what a jock strap looked like, have no idea how to change a tire and never experienced the bright stadium lights at a night-time football game.   My father did put up a basketball hoop once in our driveway, short-lived when the ball sailed through the glass pane of the garage door. There it stood neglected for years a sad testament to the son my mother never had.

My Scottish reared father never once expressed regret at not having a son. Rather, he reveled in his four daughters and life among them. He loved his girls. Though there were times we tried his patience. A flashback of his screams from the shower after being cut by a worn down razor blade used on too many female teenage legs. Or his aversion to the smell of nail polish remover. He hated the smell of nail polish remover.  He was equally content watching a rugby match as he was a cooking show.

During his daughter’s bridal showers, all four of them, rather than fleeing for the afternoon as most men might, my father would delight in being part of the celebration.  There he would sit center stage, in his recliner, newspaper in hand (a ploy to feign disinterest) among the squeals and chaos of thirty females.  Every now and again as a new gift was unveiled he would lift his head up casually and remark  “Ah what’s this one? Hold it up a little closer Kath…”

My sister Sheila, too experienced this sometimes disadvantage of not having grown up with or been schooled among boys.  When she and my mother visited Lord and Taylor to buy her first boyfriend a birthday gift, the saleswoman paused in puzzlement as she inquired as to where she might find the men’s “blouses.”

In addition to my father there was in fact one other male in our family.  A big, beautiful Irish wolfhound, brought back from a holiday in Ireland.  I recall listening in on a now famous conversation in our family between my mother and the vet. “I need to bring Connell in to be spayed,” The vet’s patient reply:  “You mean neutered Mrs. Dickinson.”  My mother’s reply “Oh, yes that is when they fix his vagina?”  My sister and I stared at each other, and then burst into laughter. We thought that something must have gotten lost in translation as my mother, Irish-born, often had her own interpretation of words. Looking back however, I think she simply believed Connell like the rest of us, female, at least in theory.

I married and ironically, have two sons. My eldest is named William in honor of my father.  My husband has taught them the things his own father taught him; how to throw a ball, using common tools for simple jobs, being kind and respectful.  My sons are equally in touch with their feminine side and have as many female friends as male.  They have five female cousins whom they see frequently further adding to their comfort level with girls, not to mention the added bonus of always have a date for the prom.

But I guess in at least one aspect boys will be boys. Despite my pleas, they still on occasion leave the seat up.  I have one small consolation.  Our family’s toy fox terrier Anabel is female.  My father would have loved that….

My handsome father at the 1964 World's Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.
My handsome father at the 1964 World’s Fair being interviewed. He was general manager of Restaurant Associates at the time.

Ode to a Pheasant

“See! from the brake the whirring pheasant springs, And mounts exulting on triumphant wings”

Alexander Pope Quotes , Source: Windsor Forest (l. 111)

bird

I cannot say for certain when I first made his acquaintance or tell you the exact day he stole my heart.  We had just moved to a small town in Connecticut from New York City following the 9/11 tragedy.  Our new home’s family room sported an enormous glass window which overlooked the back yard, a spectacular bucolic setting of manicured jade green grass, magnolia trees and a pond, all bordering a 200 acre nature preserve.  I was growing accustomed to the ubiquitous deer and red fox sightings but  had never before encountered a pheasant and was not prepared for the effect his physical appearance bestowed, both in brilliance and beauty.

His presence, generally either early morning or late afternoon, was always announced by a loud and strange-sounding squawk, echoing eerily through the landscape. I grew to love this sound.  Emerging from the tall hedges of the nature preserve he would strut and bob in all his splendor, slowly cruising the yard, pecking and flapping his great wings in a display of cockiness and valor.

I often pondered from where this lovely creature came.  Was he an exotic pet from some grand estate who had fled to explore new pastures? Or perhaps a restless migrant in search of a mate? I researched the presence of pheasants in Fairfield County Connecticut and discovered that these fascinating birds were indeed not native to this area and rarely seen.   My research further allowed that wild pheasants only live approximately five years in the wild unlike raised pheasants which can live up to twelve years in captivity.  Our pheasant was chasing the years.

Sadly, the pheasant never did find a partner but instead took up with a group of wild turkeys who too frequented our property.   I would often see him among the pack, his brilliance a gem among the other gray birds.   The turkeys were a friendly lot and took him in with little fanfare.  I loved them for that.  I was pleased he had found companions though daydreamed about finding him a soul mate of his own, perhaps from some pheasant farm if that sort of thing existed. I imagined visiting, picking out a female pheasant and bringing it home. And like in a fairy tale they would live happily ever after and create for our town a whole new flock of pheasants for all to enjoy.

I longed to see him daily but as if sensing his importance he arrived only once or twice a week.  In an attempt to lure him closer, I bought a bag of wild bird seed and scattered them in a line, starting at the opening of the preserve from which he emerged and ending just inches from my bedroom window.  The very next morning, I heard him, louder than usual and realized with glee that the seed trail had worked.  He stood majestically, so close to my window that I could reach out and touch him and in that brief moment snapped his photograph which still hangs on my refrigerator and atop this story.

There was something about the beauty of the pheasant and his calm demeanor that somehow made everything so right even on those days that were not.  He became a fixture in the neighborhood and neighbors became proprietary. They began referring to him as “our pheasant” if he spent any amount of time on their property.  He became somewhat of a celebrity in our small town.

When he went missing for sometimes weeks at a time, he became a topic of concern. I would see a friend in the local market and ask “Have you seen the pheasant.”?   I imagined putting posters on trees in the area with his photo and the simple word “Missing.”   No explanation necessary.

The pheasant enchanted us with his presence for over seven years, surviving hurricanes, snow storms and numerous predators.  After one particularly fierce winter storm I fancied making up a tee-shirt for him stating “I survived the blizzard of 2010” and sending his photo to our local newspaper to feature in their wildlife section.

Then one day as magically as he had appeared, the pheasant returned no more. It has been over a year now.  We no longer ask each other “Have you seen him?” There is an unsaid understanding among us. Nothing gold can stay.

Yet I still stare hard when I see the wild turkeys trotting by my window, hoping, praying for that glint of brilliant color amid the backdrop of the woods.