happy faces

My favorite page of Southern Living magazine is the last page, which has, for years, contained editorial pieces filled with language that evokes memories and inspires hopes and dreams. In the October edition, Rick Bragg bemoans the fact that vampires are replacing the traditional symbol of Halloween, the “punkin.”

Bragg says, “Halloween has always been, to me, a time to smile at things that frighten us…,” and I totally agree.

My own memories of my long ago childhood Halloweens are filled with happy times. We dressed as pirates and gypsies, and majorettes and football players. I always had a noisemaker – some metal box that would spin around on its plastic axle and was painted black and orange. We went from house to house in large groups, sometimes accompanied by a parent or two. The most frightening thing was when someone secretly skipped a stop, ran ahead of the group, and jumped out from the bushes to scare the rest of us.

Phooey on all the blood and fangs and frightening horrors of today’s Halloween! Fortunately, there are many in our town who feel the same way. We have the sights and sounds of the Halloween of old – friendly and welcoming, celebrating the harvest and ushering in the holiday season.

If you visited my town this time of year, here are some of the sights you would see.

porch greeting

a welcoming greeter

a welcoming greeter

more signs of the season

more signs of the season

a porch full of costumes

a porch full of costumes

Schools decorate for the season, too:

school spirits

school spirits

A trip to the farmers market brings more seasonal delights:

bountiful harvest

bountiful harvest

scarecrow Willie

scarecrow Willie

Our town celebrates Pumpkinfest annually, with sights such as these:

signs of the times

signs of the times

Many businesses decorate scarecrows to compliment what they are selling:

a swampy scarecrow at Puckett's Boathouse restaurant

a swampy scarecrow at Puckett’s Boathouse restaurant

a pumpkin tree

a pumpkin tree

gathering treats from downtown merchants

gathering treats from downtown merchants

And we are all waiting patiently for the big night:

too cute for a costume

too cute for a costume

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin lovers unite!

choices for today

Don’t live in the past, don’t ponder about the future, stay at the PRESENT moment NOW…always.
Mark Twain

Have you ever heard teachers say that they have to get their students ready for the next grade? Preschool teachers have to get them ready for Kindergarten. Upper elementary teachers have to get students ready for middle school. And later on, teachers work to get them ready for high school or college, or the work world.

How about helping students be the best third grader that they can be? Or enjoying what one level of school has to offer without trying to send students off to another? How about  helping students enjoy every day, learn all they can, and then watch them take those lessons and those memories forward with them when the time is right for that next advancement?

That is true in the work world, too. Some people are always thinking of what is next on the horizon. They often overlook the demands of today that would lead them more easily into tomorrow. How about taking to day and living it for all it is worth?

How about living in the moment and being present in the now?

I am learning that lesson for myself this week. There is a fabulous conference in town this week that will have sessions about writing, and crafting, and networking, and all the things that I enjoy outside of school, things that I hope to pursue when I retire.

But at school, on that same day, there is a literacy meeting in the morning that I am scheduled to lead, and there is training on our new assessment program in the afternoon.

I would love to put all of that out of my mind, think towards the future, and go to the conference. I could get excited about what is ahead for me and get myself ready for that next experience.

But I need to be present in the now. I need to lead that meeting and help teachers make the most of this year in literacy. I need to ask questions and find answers for the snafus in our assessment program. I need to be living in the moment and do what is expected of me – today.

And so, for today, I have made my choice.

Later on, I will find another conference and it will be just as wonderful as this one – when the time is right for me to be present in that moment. Someday.  But not today.

Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.
Steve Goodier

on being a tree

I am a tree, planted in fertile soil long ago, and my roots are deep.


When I was young, before I really knew what I already was, I wanted to be a tree.

No other job ever crossed my mind.

And so I worked hard to become the best tree I could be.


I have soaked up the sunshine and reached my branches toward the sky, day after day.

I have been drenched by rains and nourished by the watering cans of others.

I have been sheltered by other trees that were tall and strong when I was young.

I have weathered storms and learned to bend with the wind.


Then, at one time, I couldn’t imagine being a tree any longer.

I decided I wanted to be built into a house. Or a boat, or even a fence.

Anything but a tree. I was so tired of being a tree.

But God said, “I made you to be a tree. I’ll let you know if I have other plans for you. Until then be the best tree you can be. I am counting on you for that.”

And so I continued being a tree.


And with His help, I am good at what I do, being a tree, standing for myself, and for others.

I have sheltered little ones in my branches, and offered shade to those who needed rest.

The seeds I have made have traveled far and wide, taken root, and grown.


I am old now and strong. I can see clearly the world around me.

I know which saplings are sturdy and determined  – and which ones are planted in rocky ground.

My experiences are woven into my branches and whisper through my leaves.

They speak to me, and help me embrace new growth.


But I am not sure today’s world is looking for sturdy trees anymore.

It may be God’s time for me to become something new.

Yet on mornings filled with the promise of a new day and better ways of growing,

on those days, and every day, for now,

I continue to be the best tree I know how to be.



dark and deep

filled with tiny floaters

lifeforms abound

thick and solid





beneath the cloudy overhead

like a lumpy blanket

full coverage




happy and bright

mirroring the cloudless sky

glowing from deep within

warm and energizing




honest and pure

showing plainly all beneath

transparently sheer

invisible yet wavy



water comes in many forms

just as people do

harboring remnants,

concealing sadness,

reflecting joy,

focusing on others


Lord, make me clear and deep and strong

clear water