Archives

Saved by a Cricket

Saved by a Cricket

 a true story by Laura Botsford

when-you-wish-upon-a-star

      Life leads us away from each other and then back again when the time is right. Paul picked up his back pack and turned to me.

“Well the stars are coming out, I better get back to South San Francisco to my sisters, she’ll be worried. I hope to see you around angel lady, nice meeting you.”

“Nice meeting you too, Yeah, come back again.” I told him, hoping he really would; he was such a curious character that I wanted to hear more of his stories.

Quiet, simple, and ever present is what I knew about life then. I could give you a past, I could give you today, or recall the history of everyday people who meant something in my many encounters; but of all of them the man I called the glittersmith, shone like a new copper penny.

It was my vocation just to be and see what happened. I was traveling the streets of San Francisco, checking out stores and restaurants for jobs, writing and observing. I stopped on Market Street, revived from my earnest search for employment fresh as the yellow and white daffodils that bloomed in the gypsy garden carts on my way to Union Square.

How sweet is the bustle of 18 years of age? How new and fascinating the faces were to me, however weathered or broken. Their working days gone, old men, well beyond their present age, now sat in Union Square waiting for a hand out to buy another bottle of wine. Above the lonely din hovered one man in particular sitting alone on the stone casement, a distinguished looking man in his mid 50’s, though his clothes were ragged his stature still clung on to something upright. I immediately felt a great sadness from him that needed attention, so  I sat beside him.

“It’s a nice day, are you enjoying the music?” I asked him as the Jazz band began to play.

“I am, I’m hungry though, can you spare some change?” He asked seeing me as a golden opportunity to beg. I passed over his question as if he hadn’t asked at all.

“My name is Laura, what is yours?”

“My name is Anthony,” he said, surprised that I would even care. I felt he had once been someone special, he still carried himself well and spoke with an air of intellect, that only those educated in the art of conversation can facilitate.

” I bet you once had a job, what did you do for a living?” I asked.

“You mean before I came to this disarrayed lifestyle of wine and begging?” He said sardonically about himself then went on in a kind of euphoria with sudden clarity that even surprised him.

“Once I worked for Disney when I was twenty.  I was a cell painter … I painted the bluebirds and the haunted trees.” His eyes wept silently, streaming in sea turtles tears of a life laid ruin in the wake of temperance lost. “I was married and had two children but  they left me long ago,” his voice trailing off into a heavyweight of irrepressible remorse.

Around the corners of his mouth were hints of a smile that he must have used many times over once. I thought about how he was the one of the first who made branches move with wicked unrepentant grasps, tearing at snow white as she ran fearfully through the forest.   I saw twittering birds that flew all around in the balance of sweet air; the sun shinning up to him as he painted in the cells with liquid promise. His eyes must have been glimmering with enthusiasm as he blended the colors, knowing that many children, years from now would see what he created. His life was all ahead of him, dancing with the pictures that once filled his life with tumescent joy but now his only hope was to quit drinking.

“There is always hope. There are shelters and programs in the mission where they can help you find a new beginning.” I told him.

“Yes I stay at one but it is not enough for me. I am just getting by, waiting for release; something to live for again,” he replied.

“How about giving it to a higher power, get a sponsor and the rest will come along, it’s up to you.” I patted his shoulder and gave him ten dollars to, “ Use this for food please, get something to eat, not another bottle of wine, just one meal.”

“Thank you.” He wiped away another huge tear that streamed in a river from his eye to his chin, then he looked into the blue sky as if he were reading his life up there, searching for a cloud just to take him home.

     I was just about to leave when the jazz band of street musicians began to play ‘When You Wish upon a Star’. We sat peacefully together in a happier place as I sang along. “It makes no difference who you are.” I inwardly thought about how we all encounter a forest that either lurks to snag us with its scraggly pointed branches, or  chose to be wondrously courted  with loving welcome in a cricket’s song, ever allowing the stream of constant light to flow through us as we paint our cells in to make a story that is cherished. We sat quietly for a moment in the serendipity of our encounter. I saw him as he truly is inside and sang along with the song.

“If your heart is in your dream

No request is too extreme

When you wish upon a star

As dreamers do

Fate is kind

She brings to those who love

The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing

      I hugged him good bye,  looked up at the sunlit sky, hopefully wishing on a unseen star for Anthony, and that he would hear Ol’ Jiminy Cricket singing for him,  and maybe, just maybe… like a bolt out of the blue, fate would step in and see him through because;”When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires will come to you.

Angels Among Us – Saints Within

   Natural Enchantment is the remembered elegance of one’s soul. We are at once the echo of the divine and the pursuit of our affirmation on earth; all entwined in the struggle of being loved, and dealing with what we find unlovable in ourselves.

   I’ve been giving some thought as to what it is we do that makes us happy. Is it the people we love or the people who love us: sharing in the cherished  history of friendship? Is the angel we seek  the one whose can turn it all around and sniff out danger ahead and whack it with a big sword? Or is it the one who floods the senses with a huge amount of love that we can’t seem to give ourselves?  Among us our human angels, who’ve stepped in to say, “I am here, you are not alone.” Maybe it’s all about what we choose to believe.

  There is a great love for each of us.  I try to remember this when I see those that are hurt, and broken, their cords to Life Source entangled in a belief system that keeps them there.

We seek to be free, they say, and I remembered that song by Donavan.

“Calves are easily bound and  slaughtered, never knowing the reason why, but whosoever treasures freedom, like the swallow learns to fly   Why don’t you have wings to fly with, like the swallow so proud and free? How the winds are laughing, they laugh with all their might Love and laugh the whole day through and half the summer’s night

Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Don a Do, Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Dona, Don a Don”

The long somber trailers rumbled through town, filled with unsuspecting cows going to slaughter, their moon eyes were dilated with confusion and lost lonely emptiness slumped their gaits in down trodden despair.   We have all felt like that at one time.

There  among the pieces of sanctioned misery, for all those who have lost, or never had their freedom;  there is a promised land. Out of the ruinous catastrophes of their seemingly hopeless lives there is a light. If one can Remix wonder with the beat of humanity;  then you will have something that resonates in the now, transcends the devastations of the suffering, and clasps hands with the ones who can take the simplest  of moments to soothe themselves again.

 “To all  you souls, who’ve lost your hope when the world you dreamed about is falling down. Would it mean a thing if you heard me sing about the ways a good life could be found. And the glowing embers still alive.” – Michael Tomlinson
New CD due out this Winter -2016 – http://michaeltomlinson.com/

Over the Rainbow

 Surely a dream must have a song, this is a classic common tale that we all share.

Featured Image -- 1934

   Why do I love this song? is it because it reminds me of my childhood? Or perhaps speaks of dreams coming true? Yes, all the best of life fulfilled eventually, after the longing, in the sweet sadness of life’s woes and disappointments.

   There in the heart of everyone is this universal truth, somewhere we can escape to, someplace where we can live our dreams. It is a common calling that comes with being born. No matter your fortune, good or lack of, there is always something we want to make right, to have or be delivered from. In a world of such diverse contrasts, it is an ignitable presence in all of our lives that resonates at our core and surely seeks a hopeful distraction.

   When I was young, the elders spoke of believing in oneself, and if you did that your dreams would come true. I’ve come to believe that as I got older my beliefs were shaken most by those that didn’t embrace this truth; and when my dreams coming true depended on them believing as well, then that was where all my troubles began.

   Yes, it is challenging to continue from a center of well being in the midst of chaos, heartache when people let you down. When I finally accepted that people have their own perspectives, their own paths, and the right to them, that I started feeling better. We can not control the behavior of others, we can only be as it is said, “The change we want to see in the world.”  There is great peace in knowing this.

   Maybe the rainbow is really just our hearts, and minds choosing to be happy just for the fun of it.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
High above the chimney tops,
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

To Sing the Light Fantastic

 To Sing The Light Fantastic

    Laura Botsford

   I wasn’t a very quite child by nature. I talked a lot, and thought everyone should listen to me. I thought that it was expected of me to keep the conversation going, or maybe  I was a little to precocious to know any better. Fortunately for me I believed in everything I said and felt confident in expressing myself. Oftentimes I emulated the best of my made up characters from my imagination; trying on personalities like hats. I was creating myself from plays, and movies that I admired; I was the song that I  wrote on, inventing harmonies for the present moments I found myself in. I always sang. That was who I liked being best of all. Life was a musical, and when it wasn’t, I was bored, detached from who I really was. It was a more than a pastime; it was a state of being.

    And all my favorite, invisible friends gathered in the basement just to hear me sing.  Looking back on this, I can see all the room aglow with inspiration. Performances were born out of this sweet spot. Incandescent lights appeared calling me to sing to them. I sang with heroic exuberance. In that basement I found my concert space and I  was content in knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now to get there was a different matter. All roads carry turning points, filled with lessons if we stay awake and embrace them openly. I was a vast sea of ideas without a map. There were things I saw around me that were illuminated by songs. Patience my dear for the sound is a treasure somewhere in the sands of your timeless soul. If you feel the rhythm then you will find your way.

In the Sands   Halley’s Comet last appeared in the inner Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061. Seventy Five years between gigs. Songs travel without time, they are buried in the sand, on the doorsteps of  relationships, good and hard times and in dreams. They are found in newspapers and paintings; maybe just a melody that is a wisp of a phrase. They move in and take over, like a hunger or a voice you can’t get out of your head. The nature of a song is in the very breath of Spirit and most times takes up collection from the depths of ones soul.

   The heart of a song is in the mist and silence is the only way to catch it as it streaks by. A good song tells a story, it weaves a spell, it tells the truth, it inspires and can change one’s life forever. Some songs are prayers while others are celebrations, and always a song seeks to sing the light fantastic, from it’s own timeless place.

Into the Mist

Lake Wilson in Portland Arkansas

Lake Wilson in Portland Arkansas

From a developing book; Northern Bell – Laura Botsford

Foot Steps

   The day started off simply. In one run together breath I clamored out loud, “I am here what do I do today?” I got up, made my bed, drank my coffee, ate my loving from the oven and went for a walk around a very short block remarking that the trees were all tremendously tall on 3rd Street. Martha Pugh told me that these Oaks were planted for each one of the native sons of the civil war. The civil war! I was breathless. There is a history here that defies present day with lingering pockets of a rich cultural past.

    At one time the town was built on Bayou Bartholomew. *1 “Down the bayou from Siemons was a small settlement referred to by steamboat captains and hands referred to as “the port”37 When a post office was established in 1857, the name became Portland. One had to reach it by ferry or ride the steamboat that navigated up and down it bringing supplies to the little towns that dotted its winding lifeline for 2oo miles. *2 Pearl Etheridge Young wrote of crossing the bayou by ferry with her father in the early 1900’s.
  “The road was now a dark tunnel, grass-grown and arched by the over lapping boughs of the trees…It was early noon when we came to Bayou Bartholomew. A change in the quality of the landscape had become apparent some miles back. The feathery cypress trees sank their stark, flaring trunks into black, stagnant pools…one feature of the landscape set the tone of the whole-a profusion of Spanish moss hanging in cloudy filigree from the boughs above us. (The bayou) had no bridge at this point and it was a watercourse of parts, not to be trifled with. We could not ford it. We drew up looking for signs of life…At last, peering through the trees, we saw a rope stretched between the opposing banks of the bayou and there at our feet, moored against the slippery descent, lay a floating wooden platform…my fathers hello brought no answer. “Everybody down in the bottom field picking cotton,” he said and gave a mighty yodel. The response was long, musical and reverberating… stillness reigned again until the ferryman came, an old Negro with a grizzled head and wiry frame. The mare was coaxed onto the platform and the old man propelled us across by long rhythmic pulls on the rope. It seemed the right way to cross Bayou Bartholomew, the master bayou…in the swamp beyond the stillness deepened and the loneliness was unbroken.”
    *3 “The site of the town may be found by turning north onto a farm road just east of the bayou bridge on Highway 278 east of Portland. The site is three-fourths of the mile from the highway. A visit to the location may evoke a nostalgic illusion from the past. Sit on the bank of the quiet bayou on a moon lit night. Listen to the steamboat coming. Experience what William Alexander-Percy wrote in Lanterns on the Levee.“There still is no sound in the world so filled with mystery and longing at night of a river blowing for a landing one long, two shorts; one long, two shorts; the sound of a river boat changes inside your heart like a star.”

   Leo and I trolled in a little fishing boat down that part of the bayou. He loves the bayou. He tells me that he use to ride his horse along here as a kid with his life long friend since the age of five, Dave Hackett. They would set up a camp, run trot lines and live out their own Davey Crockett dreams. Once they forgot to bring food, and didn’t catch any fish, so they shot a black bird for supper. It was the “toughest meat they ever ate,” he said.
   I am searching for this mystical portal into the past. It was all that people had written and said about it, haunting, ancient, and removed from contemporary times. The trees and the waters clung to its centuries as to not ever forget the people who once traveled and lived here. Native Americans still echoed down this murky avenue. It was their souls that I felt the most. It was then that I saw a panther, her ebony eyes, stopped and stared into my soul and then slipped invisibly through the Cypress shadows. She hauntingly impressed me with her captivating presence. To this day I never saw her again, but always sense her somewhere near in my spirit. I took her to be a sign from the Grandfathers. I respect the Native Americans that lived here so abundantly at one time. The age of the Indian, the story of the spirit that permeates in the trees and runs in the waters here like life’s blood is always nearby. This bountiful land is pregnant with possibility, but somewhere along the way the sadness of their departure lingers and longs to be remembered with honor. “I hear you Grandfathers,” I say to myself and burn some sage in their memory.
    After a fire, which was suspected arson, the town of Portland was moved inland. It looks like a run down movie set with a block of buildings facing the still running railroad tracks. The town use to have a lot more going on then it does now. Back in the 1990’s, everyone came downtown on a Saturday night. I can almost still see the old model T’s gathered in a stylish black line, the men all wearing top hats and women politely sipping tiny cokes in long dresses while children run behind in the alley. I am told there was an old hotel, a Chinese laundry, taxidermy, a Portland Drug Store, run by CC Stevens where one could get a soda and prescription. Miss Pearl had a dry goods and ice cream parlor where Gays Grab bag now stands.
   I feel honored to be living here. It is not often one is lucky enough to reside in a town that was born out of the Louisiana Purchase. I wonder what the ancestors would say about a Yankee girl walking around in their footsteps.

*1, page 16, * 2 pg 17, *3 page 21-22, Excerpts from Beyond Bartholomew-ISBN 0-9444609-22-8 by Rebecca De Armond-Huskey and friends of Portland