W.A. Spooner was an English clergyman noted for accidentally transposing sounds within words and phrases. An example of a Spoonerism is when you say crooks and nannies when you intended to say nooks and crannies. The writing challenge was to use a pair of Spoonerisms as bookends for a timed writing by starting the writing with one, and then ending it with the other. This delightful story by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, radio announcer for the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team, was the result of this exercise.
It was at a bakery, the aroma of fresh bread canceling out the depressing gray skies and driving rain outside. A woman stepped in from the dankness, pulling down her hood and wrestling miserably to close a defeated umbrella. “I need three pies,” she said to the man behind the counter. “Three lemon meringue pies of your highest order.”
And because she had the sort of face you didn’t turn down, even with raindrops still dripping down her cheeks, the man behind the counter gave her a winning smile and said, “Most certainly.” Off he went, through the doors behind the counter, into the kitchen area, and there he made a call. “Three lemon meringue pies,” he said over the phone. “We’re all out in the shop, but there’s no way I’m telling this customer no.”
At the other end of the phone was me.
“Really?” I said.
“Really,” said my roommate. “Now bake the three best lemon meringue pies you’ve ever made and sneak them in the back.” He hung up the phone and, as I found out later, delayed the customer expertly with jokes, descriptions of how good the pies would be, and assorted probing questions of a personal fashion.
It might’ve worked, too, except I was intrigued and impulsively came in through the front door instead of the back. That led to conversation, which led to a cooking sort of date, which led — in two years time — to a ring.
All because of a lack of pies.
©2014 Jesse Goldberg Strassler
Most of us remember our first kiss; it may have been unexpected, maybe even awkward, but also a bit magical. The writing prompt was “Stolen Kisses.” This poem is from Susan L. Kaminga.
I looked around
And saw them kissing
Here and there
Behind me, too
I didn’t know
What I was missing
But I knew
I’d like to, too
I caught his eye
His eyes were twinkling
I knew he knew
What I was thinking
I looked down
To hide my flushing cheeks
My stomach swirling
My knees felt weak
I looked back up
He wasn’t there
Then I felt a kiss
Upon my hair.
©2014 Susan L. Kaminga
Last summer Writing at the Ledges member, Rosalie Sanara Petrouske, spent one week staying in a cabin in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This reflection was written for the “Pile of Pebbles” writing prompt. After a brief hiatus, we are returning to our member’s musings with a promise to be more diligent in our postings.
Along the coast of Lake Superior, there are secret coves and inlets where pebbles are stacked and polished at the shoreline, washed clean from the lake’s tides, time-worn, spit onto the sand and then washed out again not to return for centuries. This summer as I walked the beaches in the Porcupine Mountains, I spent several hours one afternoon searching for agates.
Agates are not like the gems we normally think of, banded with color, crafted by the skill of the lapidary—they are rather plain, golden brown or marked by russet hues—easily mistaken for quartz or chert, you have to know how to find them, have an eye for unseen beauty, and the ability to pick out the subtle streaks of tan, yellow or orange imbedded deep in their opaque surface. The translucency is rarely obvious unless the stone is wet.
As the waves rolled to the edges of my toes, I bent over, scanning piles of pebbles, picking some up, turning them over in my palm, tossing others aside. The sun beat down on my shoulders, even now several months gone by—I can still hear the soft rumble and splash of water, a seagull sailing overhead, calling out, smell the air filled with the green fragrance of spruce, cedar, and mosses melded and drying on driftwood—the deeper depths of the lake itself—sun drenched beach grass, and algae floating in the silt at lake’s bottom.
Finally, I found one lovely stone, an agate I am almost certain; it glows with stripes of red and burnt sienna when I hold it up, still wet, and place it in my palm. I will keep it to remember this peaceful afternoon—to remind me that not everything I see is always clear at first—some facets are hidden and take time to find—such as knowing who my true friends are, being thankful for my family, or being appreciative for the small kindnesses in my life. When I am living day-to-day, I don’t always notice a sunset, or the dragonfly that lands on the porch railing, and then waits a moment before flying off.
There is much to recommend for an afternoon sitting on a picnic table in a spot of shade, a breeze caressing my shoulders as I write these words. There is much to recommend for the simplicity of minute moments in time.
Photo Credit: “A Pyramid of Pebbles”
©2014 Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
The last meeting of the Writing at the Ledges group was small but productive. The group wrote to the prompt “A Pile of Pebbles.” The next story, by WATL member Kathleen McKee Snyder, is the result of that prompt. We will feature a few more of the responses in upcoming blogs.
A Pile of Pebbles
She walked through the woods, not seeing the trees soaring above her, the wind bending them toward the ground like soldiers before a queen. Neither did she see clouds, swirling, spiraling down on the horizon, a destructive force headed for the forest. She sensed the impending danger, but it wouldn’t distract her from her mission. Her eyes stayed glued to the ground, except to dart to the ragged paper in her hand, a paper with a crude map etched upon it that might just save her sister’s life.
The wind’s velocity increased until she was leaning almost horizontally into the maelstrom, until it took all her strength to just put one foot in front of the other. She started to lose hope that she would find the spot marked on the map when a massive gust of wind knocked her off balance, sending her flying, face first, off the trail into a pile of leaves and pine needles. She lifted herself onto her hands and knees, looked at the sky for the first time in hours. Finally, the imminent danger of the storm invaded her consciousness and fear for her own safety competed with that of her sister’s, a safety that depended on her completing her mission.
She studied that map as the wind tried to pry it from her hands, and she realized that she must be close now. She crammed the paper into her pocket and crawled back onto the trail. Hail rained down upon her, and she willed herself to ignore the sting of each marble-sized ice ball. She crept half-blind along the trail, squeezing her eyes almost shut to keep out the blowing dirt and debris. Suddenly her right hand landed on a small pile of pebbles. This was the marker she sought, the marker that brought her one step closer to her sister’s salvation.
She reached into her backpack and drew out a small trowel, the one she used to plant flowers and vegetables in her expansive garden. She pulled out a length of rope and tied herself to a nearby tree to steady herself in the gale-force wind. Then she swept aside the pebbles and began to dig. She had only cleared a few inches of dirt when her trowel hit something solid. She kept digging while the storm swirled around her.
She finally liberated a small wooden box from its grave and opened it. At the same time the storm seemed to slow a little. Maybe this was a good omen. She opened the box and found a small velvet bag. She tipped out its contents on her hand, and she caught her breath as much from what she saw as from the storm.
“Hang in there, Sarah,” she breathed as she looked at the glittering jewels in her hand. “I’m coming, and now I have something to bargain with.”
©2013 Kathleen McKee Snyder
Katherine Gilberg, a storyteller in Ionia, Michigan, submitted this poem to us recently and we thought our readers would enjoy it. A former center with the Tex-as Cowgirls, a world-famous touring female basketball team akin to the Harlem Globetrotters. Katherine worked for 25 years as a 911 dispatcher before retiring in 2000. Now she writes, walks her two dogs twice a day, and listens to Pete Fountain and Josh Groban in her spare time.
Perhaps God stirs the air, as He strides across the sky.
The ocean gives birth to a tiny current,
its innocence a lie.
Soon they name the whirling wind
we’re baptized with its curse
and hopeful prayers cry out,
to be heard above the din.
Peaceful eye watching,
the winds black tantrum,
the sky’s electric blue
Then, perhaps He says “enough”
and the monster turns old and frail,
the exhausted ocean sleeps,
dying winds no longer leave their trail.
Katherine Gilberg 2013