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An Ode for Karen and her Momma, Barbara Jean

This morning my longtime, childhood/teenaged friend told me her mother had passed.  This winter season has ushered in and escorted out, many of my people and my people’s people. There is a lovely tender place in my heart for this friend and her mother, and her whole family for having entered into my quiet life when they did so many years ago.

Growing up in a rural area with an active imagination and a habit to wander off to the woods or sit under a giant rhubarb plant was a daily ritual in warm weather and very nourishing place for me to be.  My living with a large family of eighth was a full world of operation, organized by my mother who tirelessly kept it all in order, and my father who drove back and forth to Lansing every day to work at the Oldsmobile plant.

Once I learned to ride my bike, and whenever I could, I would depart the household, the woods, or the garden, riding away from those that kept me fed, safe, warm  for some sort of adventure and to get the heck out!  In my early teens, I had two best friends that lived just south of me and once I had the ability and permission by my parents, to ride my bike that far—to venture off the dirt road that I lived on— I would head west to Debbie’s family farm, or I’d head east to Karen, the new girl’s home.

I’m not sure how I first met Karen and her mom, or exactly when.  Mostly I remember that they were a breath of mighty interesting and fresh air, along with the rest of their family.  I was thrilled for a new friend from a faraway place of Dowagiac, Michigan, who shared an interest in things creative and naming herself as such.  Her passionate language was poetry and she was as smart as a whip. Even though it was easy for me to fall in love with this quirky new family that had transplanted itself around the corner from me on Round Lake Rd., it was risky for me to climb out from under my giant rhubarb plant hideout and share my art-heart-mind and bear my creative soul as I did with these folks.

Karen’s mom, Barbara, shared my mom’s name, but the comparison—at least on the outside, with my limited ability to know all-things-mother at the time—stopped there.  My Barbara momma, was a stay at home-full time household mother, who organized our lives with a pattern that kept us all doing what needed to be done.  It wasn’t until most of us had moved out, with only two of my sisters remaining that my mom had enough time to herself to even consider working outside the home.  I remember Karen’s Barbara-mom impressed me as a breeze of an active woman, who’s home-place tending was necessary and accomplished, but her need to stay put in the home was not in the same realm as was mine.

My friendship with Karen and her mom and family helped me to forge the beginning of an understanding that I could give myself permission to be who I was becoming. To not skimp or be frightened of whatever different sort of quirkiness that may be part of the me-mix.   I have very fond memories of Barbara’s red-headed, smiling freckled face and her perfectly imperfect way of being and can hear her crackly, enthusiastic voice.  She welcomed me into her home-place pretty much with open arms, and even though I preferred my mom’s home-cooking, she was willing to share some sort of tomato soup cake or another kind of frightening, nourishing concoction.

This morning I wrote a first of the year, love-poem-for food intended to be eventually displayed with a series of “Hand-print” illustrations, and I’ll dedicate it to my impressionable teenage friendship with Karen and her momma, with very much love, fond and necessary memories and many, many thanks.

Ode to the Seed People, Who May Know Not

Seed you come to me
enveloped in printed paper
images of your potential
as an awesome vessel of

Center stage and framed
a magnificent packaged portrait
making my heart leap at the potential
of your being

“Take this seed and plant it.”
a tiny voice sings out,  and I
shake myself, wide-eyed to the demand
fully feeling the coming nourishment from

“Really?” I ask myself looking down
and around checking for where
this place–my boots have carried me

“All of this from a rack of seed packets?”
a 4 by 4 village assembled
nearby dozens of fruits and vegetables
a patterned show of babies born
an arrangement in bins on

With prospective animal-transport-systems
gazing through the cardboard windows
standing rapt at a place of consideration
we meander, hover, breathe in and out
anticipation of more, of growth, giddy and

Our plant minds merge
our desires
a stage set for

In order to make ourselves known
we billboard our intentions sparking
flim-flam and flashy exuberance
it can not be held or

Long-live this seed-life in the making
a little idea, a curling sprout
patiently awaiting you, lovely you,
and your blessed

Hand-print Series: Seeds © `penny O’Krebiehl 2013