TAG | mid-Michigan authors
This essay comes from Phil Kline, a wonderful playwright and author of the recent book of essays, Growing Old, Ungracefully. The writing prompt that inspired Phil was “Unmatched socks.”
After having served in the army for twenty-eight years, when my dad died, he was buried in his full dress uniform except for a pair of socks that didn’t match his uniform. They were bright red. He had a remarkable record, having served on the staff of General Dwight Eisenhower, Commanding General of the Allies during World War II and on the staff of General Walton Walker, Commanding General of American forces during The Korean War.
For his display in an open casket, my mother decided she would have him wear his favorite pair of socks, the red ones.
I kept the tradition going by wearing red socks each of the eleven times I rode DALMAC, a three hundred and fifty mile bicycle ride from Lansing to and across The Mackinac Bridge. Sixty miles into the last day of the trip, one year, I was stopped by a woman standing in the middle of the road. It was Noelle Clark, a friend. She saw it was me from a distance because of the red socks.
When my two sons were married, they and their wedding parties wore red socks. At my daughter’s wedding, she didn’t wear red socks, but her future husband did. I still have a pair, which I’ll wear one more time, but someone else will have to put them on me.
©2015 Phil Kline
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
A few days ago we posted the first Wading Through Water story by Ashtyn Rapp. Today we offer another one written in response to that prompt, by WATL member Shelby Pontius. Shelby has had the distinction of being the youngest member of our group, since she joined while still in high school. Now she can be found walking the campus of Michigan State University where she studies fisheries and wildlife.
Wading Through Water
By Shelby Pontius
“Tyler!” I shouted as the beach ball sailed right over my head, landing with a wet smack in the lake far behind me. I glared at him as I turned to see where the ball had landed and of course the waves were large and crashing onto the beach as well as carrying the ball out further. They were probably cold waves too as lake Huron was apt to be. I turned back and surveyed my circle of cousins hoping for a friendly volunteer, but being family there was of course not one.
“Fine!” I said, stomping out into the water and trying not to flinch when the cool water hit my knees, then my waist. I had almost waded out far enough to grab it when a rogue gust of wind blew it out a little further.
“Of course.” I muttered, I could just picture all of my cousins laughing behind me.
I stared down the ball determined that this time I would grab it. I bent my knees, waited for a wave to pass and leapt straight for the ball, landing face first into the water. I should’ve known. I sat at the bottom with my face in the sand for a minute, cursing my ill luck before popping my head back up and smacking it right into the ball. I stared at it shocked it was right there before reaching and grabbing ahold, but instead of grabbing onto the rough plastic, I grabbed onto a hand. I let go immediately to look up at who was stealing my ball after I had tried so hard to catch it.
“Hey,” came a deep voice.
I looked up into the face of an angel, okay, maybe that was exaggerating, but he was cute.
“H-h-hi.” I managed to squeak out.
He smiled and I melted a little inside, “Can I play?”
“Uh, yea, sure.” I smiled to myself, yup, sure was a good thing I went to get that ball.
We will celebrate the new Voices from the Ledges anthology at a book launch party from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 at the Everybody Reads bookstore, 2019 East Michigan Avenue in Lansing. Many of the more than 20 authors will be on hand to chat, sign books and read selections from their works.
Come on down and celebrate with us!