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Fanfare & Ballyhoo: The Connie

Fanfare & Ballyhoo

Article 196

Walking by Inner Vision Blog

I planned to get an early start

this morning.

I should be pulling weeds outside in my newly crafted garden. I am not certain what to even call this sixty ft. long strip of land that borders the East side of our house.  I can’t say it is a flower garden for it really is not. Yes, there are flowers there, but not the glamorous and sophisticated kind of flowers that would qualify it for that title. At first I called it a shade garden, but shortly after I planted this space, we had 5 large pine trees cut down. Now, it is a sunny garden.

Little solar lights twinkle among the plants at twilight,

I think I will call it my

Magic Garden

In the darkness of night, with the little lights flickering, it  feels like magic when I walk down the sidewalk. I feel like I am a little girl, outside at night, with the stars blinking down on me and my garden. Twilight is my favorite time of day.

 

For Fanfare & Ballyhoo, I am sharing a story I wrote about the creek that runs behind our rural western Pennsylvania home. Our house sets on the ridge overlooking it.  Local folks, like me, call this creek, The Connie. I’ve lived by this “crick” all my life, with just a few exceptions when I lived 2 years in West Virginia as I attended graduate school for my MFA degree. And, there was nearly 2 years of living  with my husband, Bob, in Silicone Valley, where we worked after I finished grad school.  Following that, I lived on the grounds at the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts for 3 years when I was the Executive Director of that institution. But finally, after all of this, I returned to my first love – the Village of Wurtemburg and our century-old home overlooking “The Connie.” This is where my heart will always live.

This story appears in my book, Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017.

See my Authors Page – Click Here!

or Read my story as printed in Magnets & Ladders:  Read it Here!

“The Connie,”

won a 2nd place award in Memoir,

published in the 2018 Spring/Summer edition

Magnets & Ladders, Literary Magazine.

 Click Here for Magnets & Ladders Magazine

 

 

The Connie

The beginning of September signifies the end of summer,

when nights become cooler and I begin to forget
the predictable, unrelenting, steamy days and nights of July
and August. Temperature readings begin to drop down
into the 50s. I open the windows and feel the cool breeze
move through the familiar old house. The oppressive heat
and humidity of a Pennsylvania summer are swept away
by the September breeze.

I sense the shift of a quickly approaching new season
that is beginning to stir my senses. There is something in
the air that I feel. Is it a kind of nervousness and
anticipation of—what? I cannot really say.

Last night, I lay in my bed listening to the soothing
insect sounds drifting upwards to my open window. The
unseen creatures sounded like musicians tuning their
instruments to play night songs. The sounds blended into a
nocturnal symphony, a cacophony of an end–of–summer
serenade.

Our century–old home is on a ridge overlooking a
winding creek that meanders for fifty miles in western
Pennsylvania. This long creek remains the central image of
our memories throughout our lives. People from this area
call it “the Connie.” Its real name is Connoquenessing
Creek. For many of the residents of this village, our
ancestors date back to the mid–1700s. That is when the
early settlers were going back to Germany to recruit
artisans to come to America and settle here. People who
had skills needed by the colonies were recruited
for about 100 years. Some descendents of the original
immigrant families who settled along this creek married
Indians who lived in this area.
In the summertime, the Connie comes alive with the
voices and sounds of the local “crick” culture. Kayaking
begins in earnest in late winter, as soon as the ice begins to
dissipate. Hearty enthusiasts will continue to ride the
rapids through the summer days and into the fall season.

The Connie’s whitewater rapids provide the perfect setting
for a swift course for kyakers to perfect their skills.

On August nights, I can hear people laughing from
down below the ridge. Summer nights, some people arrive
here at the crick in the late evening, in the twilight, just
before it gets dark. They leave their cars and trucks in a
clearing beside the road, just under the old trees.
Generations of local people come to spend the night
fishing. I often watch as they pull out their gear. They bring
coolers and jugs, flashlights, buckets of worms, fishing
poles, nets, and blankets. Some of them wear baseball caps
or slouchy fishing hats. One by one, they scramble down
the steep, rocky path that leads to the deep water below.
When they get to the bottom of the hill, they walk out onto
the big, flat rock where they spend the night. I hear them
talking and laughing; their voices blend in with the insect
serenade.

In childhood memories, my father and I

are in the backyard behind our home in the foothills. I still live in the
valley between the steep hills. Like most of the
steelworkers in our village, my father loved to go fishing in
the Connie. In the darkness of an August night, I helped
him find earthworms. His steelworker’s helmet had a
strange yellow light on the front of it. I smelled the acrid
smoke, heard it sizzle and sputter as we bent over the dark
ground. We poured mustard water down into the little
tunnels where the earthworms lived. In just a few seconds,
a worm came to the surface seeking fresh air, and we
grabbed that worm, then sloshed it around quickly in a
bowl of water to wash off the mustard water. Finally, we
put the captured worm into Dad’s metal pail with the holes
in the sides. He had put dirt into the pail before we went
searching for the worms. We turned over rocks and found
creepy creatures hiding under them. Dad called them
hellgrammites, and they made me shiver when I looked at
them.

My favorite sight in August

is the Queen Anne’s lace
mingled with the periwinkle blue flowers of chicory. The
two wildflowers grow together along all the roads in early
August. I take my camera outside so I can capture the
beauty of these disorderly flowers. I imagine these fields of
uncultivated flowers long after they disappear in mid–
September. A friend once told me, “When you see the
chicory blooming, you know winter is not far away.”
Oh, I should let you know: Queen Anne’s lace is my
favorite wildflower because of the delicate, tiny flowers
clustered on thin, celadon–green stems. The flowers seem
to float in space and ride the soft wafts of the August
breeze. Fragile, lacy blossoms dance in the fragrant
afternoon air.

The white blossoms of Queen Anne’s lace contrast
with the sturdier chicory flowers. Chicory resembles a
daisy, with petals branching out from a round, dark
center. Each chicory bloom has little oval petals that come
to a tip that looks like someone snipped it off flat with
zigzag pinking shears. The brilliant blue color of the
chicory seems to pop out from among the white Queen
Anne’s lace in full bloom side by side with the chicory.
When I see the chicory begin to bloom, I know that the
season will soon be changing to autumn.
And it always seems that it won’t be long before I’ll be
strolling through the colored leaves on my leisurely walks
through the woods along the Connie. My thoughts drift to
the stories my father told me about his Indian great–
grandmother. I stop and look around through the woods
and down to the whitewater creek. Some days, my spirit
calls out to her as I look around in the world that she lived
in, too. Often, I feel like I am walking over layers and
generations of my family members. I ask myself, “Am I an
overlay from past generations of people who lived in this
place?”

I recognize my ancestors’ presence

because they seem to surround me. I can feel them. I ask my
grandmothers,

“Did your feet walk on this path beside the
Connie, too?”

____________________

 

This essay is the sole property of

Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright, August 23, 2018. All rights reserved.

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E-mail:  llambert@zoominternet.net

Blog and website at:  www.lyndalambert.com

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~Henry David Thoreau

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage:

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2 thoughts on “Fanfare & Ballyhoo: The Connie

  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to drop me a line or two with your thoughts. I love that you found it to be magical! Often, I am told that my work is like being in a dream. Your comment made my day!

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