Category Archives: Mostly True Stories

Words only tell part of the story.

That Time I Filmed Thomas Monson in his Office

I got the phone call about 7:30 am. I was in my car, on my way to work.

“Hey, we need you to come to President Monson’s office in an hour and film him for the Tab Choir’s new Youtube Channel.”

“Uh…okay.” I knew why they called me. I’d been filming the Apostle’s as they traveled and doing stories for LDS.org.

“What do you want me to bring?”

“I don’t know. Keep it simple. You only have a few minutes with him.”

I called a cameraman friend of mine and a sound man.

The phone rang again.

“You should probably have someone there to do makeup.”

I called a makeup artist.

The phone rang again.

“Are you bringing lights? You should bring lights. But remember, keep it simple.”

I called a lighting guy.

Again, the phone rang. “Oh, and, you’ll need a teleprompter. President Monson likes to read from a teleprompter.”

“Sure. Keep it simple,” I said.

“That’s why we called you.”

“Thanks.” It wasn’t simple.

We met at the entrance to the Church Administration Building dressed in our Sunday best–all six of us and our gear.

The phone at the front desk rang. The security guy nodded. We proceeded through the automatic doors, down a long hallway and up the elevator to President Monson’s office. I went in while the crew waited in the hallway. President Monson’s secretary greeted me with a smile.

“Welcome,” she said. “Come in. President Monson is expecting you.”

“Thank you. It will just take us about 15 minutes to set up.”

“Us?” She wasn’t expecting us.

“The crew” I said. “Lights, camera, sound, you know.”

“No. I don’t know,” she said, not smiling.

“We’ll be fast,” I said.

I opened the outer door and the crew clamored in. She opened President Monson’s door, deep lines creasing her forehead.

President Monson was seated behind his desk, smiling.

“Come in. Come in.” I went around the desk and shook his hand, while the crew set up.

“President Monson, thank you for letting us come in and film you this morning.”

“Of course. What are we filming today?”

Apparently, no one had told the Prophet what this was about.

“Well…”

I could feel the crew pause and look at me. I kneeled down next to the Prophet’s chair to explain, while they went back to work.

“The Tabernacle Choir is introducing a new youtube channel and they wanted you to introduce it.”

“Wonderful,” President Monson said. “What’s youtube?”

President Monson’s secretary was standing in the doorway. I looked up at her and she glared at me. I looked at President Monson. His eye twinkled and he chuckled, “What do you want me to say?”

I breathed a sigh of relief, “It’s right here on the prompter, President.”

“Okay. Let’s do it.”

We did it. President Monson was perfect. One take.

As we packed up our equipment, President Monson’s secretary hovered in the doorway, occasionally glaring at us. As we finished packing up, President Monson stood up and walked around his desk. He shook each of our hands.

His secretary, now smiling with anticipation of our departure, watched from the doorway. As President Monson shook my hand, he said, “You know, I don’t have any place I need to be right now. Why don’t you sit down and let’s just chat.”

What?

President Monson guided me  over to a plush seat by his desk.

Chat? With the Prophet?

Out of the corner of my eye I could see his secretary shaking her head. NO.  Her forehead creases were growing deeper and her face was getting red.

“Make yourself comfortable,” President Monson said, and the rest of my crew sat down.

“What do you suppose an Apostle has in his desk drawer?” President Monson asked as he sat back down.

“I…”

“Scriptures,” one of my crew said.

“Good guess,” President Monson said. “But, I keep those on top of my desk.”  He opened the desk drawer and pulled out a plastic container. He placed it on the desk and opened it.

“Flies,” he said. “I tied ’em myself.”

For the next little while, President Monson told us stories about fishing on the Provo River when he was a boy. He laughed and we laughed. It was amazing. He was just like our Grandfather. He loved us, he loved having us visit and he loved telling stories.

His secretary COUGHED. Maybe she was choking. Her face had gone from red to purple. She burst into the room with clenched fists.

“President Monson, you do have somewhere you need to be, and these men NEED TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.

I looked back to President Monson. He chuckled and winked.  “I didn’t want to go to that meeting anyway.”

I have thought often about that day with President Monson. It was good to know that the Prophet was just like my Grandfather, who, I believe, also knew the Lord.

I look forward to seeing them both, again.

President Thomas S Monson: 1927 – 2018

 

 

 

 

Addae’s Birthday Gift

Addae opened his eyes. Dim light was filtering through shutters but the sun was not yet up. His little sister, Echo, was sleeping quietly on a mat beside him. He could hear noise outside. Momma and Lale, Addae’s older sister, were preparing the morning meal. Poppa would already be out gleaning grain in the fields, but would return in time to eat before catching a tro tro into the city for work.

Addea jumped up and ran from the hut. He loved to run. He would run everywhere. This morning was no exception. He looked at the sky. It was pink.

He ran faster.

He would wash himself at the village well and race back before the sun touched his hut. Addae’s name meant Morning Sun. Momma said he earned that name by making her wait all night for delivery.

Addae arrived at the well only to find that Raziya and her mother were already there. Raziyah was two months older than Addae. She was fast, for a girl, but Addae would never concede that  she could out run him. He must have slept too long.

“Greetings, Addae.” Raziya’s mother smiled at him.

Addae bowed his head. “Good morning, Auntie. Hope you slept well.”  Addae was still breathing hard, making it difficult to speak the greeting. Raziya smiled. Addae frowned.

Raziya’s mother drew a pitcher of water from the well and poured it in a bucket. “Does the morning sun withhold its smile from our humble village?”  Raziya held the bucket for her mother.

“No, Auntie.” Addae grimaced.

“That is not much better. Come closer, Addae.”

Addae approached Raziya’s mother. Raziya scowled.

“Today is an important day. You must look your best.”

Addae nodded.

“Bow your head.”

Addae obeyed.

Raziya’s mother poured cool water over Addae’s head and torso. He sputtered, scrubbing his head, then his chest with his hands. He wiped the water and sleep from his eyes and smiled for the first time. Raziya and her mother smiled back.

“I thank  you for your kindness.”

Raziya watched Addae as her mother once again dipped the pitcher in the well. Addae looked up as morning rays touched tree tops.” He must hurry, he thought.  “God’s blessings, Auntie.”

“God’s blessings, Addae.”

Addae sprinted from the well, down a dusty path. He wove between huts with great speed. When he rounded a corner and came upon his own hut, he stopped, abruptly. Something  was different.

He looked to the sky. In spite of not being first to the well he had raced the sun and had won. Morning rays had not yet touched his hut.

“Momma?  Poppa?” he called.

No one answered.

The charcoal fire was burning, serpentine smoke snaking in the gentle morning breeze, and there were cakes on the fire. The clay oven was lit and bread was baking, but neither Momma, Lale or Echo were close by.

Addae entered the hut.

Momma? Lale? Echo?

He heard something outside and ran out of the hut.

“SURPRISE.”

Addae jumped. Momma, Poppa, Lale and Echo were all there smiling and laughing as the morning sun washed over them.  Addae laughed too.

“Greetings, my son, and birthday wishes,” Poppa said.

“Greetings, Poppa, and thank you,” Addae replied.

“We have a gift for you.”

“A gift?” He could see no gift.

“For your birthday,” Echo said, as Poppa drew a bundle wrapped in brown paper from behind his back. Addae’s eyes grew big and Poppa laughed. The paper crinkled as Addae took the package from Poppa.

“What is it?” Addae asked.

“You must open it, brother,” Lale said.

“Your sister speaks truth,” Momma laughed. “Open it.”

Addae beamed then tore into the package. When the paper fell away, he held up a brilliant blue, long sleeved polo shirt with three stripes on it and the word, Adidas.

“Put it on,” Momma said.

“It is Adidas,” Poppa said. “It will make you fast.”

“Addaedas,” Echo said. “like you.”

Addae put the shirt on over his naked chest and they all laughed. It was much too big.

“He will grow into it,” Lale said.

“He will grow out of it,” Momma said.

Poppa smiled. “Run, Addae. Run, before the morning sun climbs too high.”

Behind the scenes

The boy in the photograph was very proud of his  Adidas shirt. He told us it made him fast. He received it for his birthday. His parents bought it at a store in Accra which sold used clothing donated from the United States. In Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I saw one child with a Los Angeles Lakers jersey . I live near Lone Peak High School in Cedar Hills, Utah and was surprised to see a boy in Sierra Leone wearing a Lone Peak High School jersey.

I have been to Africa many times. It is a continent of contrasts not free from turmoil or strife. Yet, in my travels throughout the continent, I have been blessed by many people of kindness, faith and love. The story above is based on a visit to the village of Yamoransah, Ghana. There I met a family I grew to admire in a very short period of time. Their lives are much different from my own. Yet, we share a common desire, to see our children grow up in the light of the morning sun.

African Adidas
While his little sister shyly watches, this African boy stands proud in his Adidas.

 

Sometimes I Can Fly

It started slowly, the falling. At first I was flying, rising on gentle currents. The higher I went, the better the view. It was amazing. I could see everything.

There is something liberating about seeing the world below from great heights above. No sense of fear whatsoever. Drifting with the breeze.

Clouds

I thought I was drifting. But I wasn’t just drifting. Was I?

I was falling. A knot in the pit of my stomach grew tighter. l fell faster. My insides were screaming. Slow down. Slow up.

I was flying so high that it shouldn’t matter. I couldn’t fall so far. Could I?

Sometimes in dreams I can fly.

In one recurring dream I am running, on a mesa cliff. It looks like the Grand Canyon, but isn’t. For some reason, not fully known to me, I run off the edge and the earth beneath my feet disappears.

I can’t breathe.

The sensation of falling takes my breath away. The rocky cliffs dive to a snaking river below.  Terminal velocity forces air from my lungs. I can’t breathe. I CAN’T BREATHE.

Autumn in American Fork Canyon, Utah.

Sometimes, in this dream, I fly. Air returns to my lungs like a drink of cool water on a hot day. I can feel it all the way down. These are good dreams.

Other times, I fall. This time, I’m falling.

Is it a dream? I’m not entirely sure. To be self aware and asleep is a conundrum I can not quite resolve.

Fall leaves color the forest.

I have heard it said that if you actually crash, or hit the ground in your dreams, you die. The reality of this moment is that the sensation of falling feels like death. Death would be a relief from the falling. To fall forever, fear tying each muscle into knotted searing cramps would be a torment worthy of Dante’s examination.

Fall Leaves.

Yet the ground grows no closer. I open my eyes and see colors exploding in brilliance all around me. Then, one leaf falls, and another, and another and…

…they are gone. The sunset season has ended. Winter’s chill is close. I can feel it coming.

In this dream, I will open my eyes before the last leaf touches earth.

 

The Colors of Brazil

I enjoy watching the Olympics. I’m especially pleased to see the Olympics in Brazil. I was able to visit Brazil just prior to World Cup. It was a crazy, cultural and colorful experience. I witnessed strikes, mobs, gunfire and incredibly beautiful and colorful scenery. The food was amazing. I ate things I had never heard of.  I met friendly  people and heard styles of music that were filled with life and celebration. My experience in Brazil was amazing.

A Brazilian family out for a stroll.
A Brazilian family out for a stroll.

My friends in Brazil would not take me to the Favelas. They said it was too dangerous. They didn’t want me to get hurt, or robbed.  They didn’t want me to see the poverty, overcrowding, pollution and social problems associated with the Favelas.

Two men in Olinda, Brazil.
Waiting, just waiting on the street in Olinda, Brazil.

Nevertheless, the problems were there. I could feel it in the city. I could feel it in the tension among people. It was present in the bus strikes, the police strikes, the metro strikes. It was seeping out of the Favelas.

São Paulo Police
São Paulo Police strike prior to the World Cup.

We were eating lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. Suddenly the lights in the restaurant went out. The restaurant owner told us we had to leave. They were closing. The mobs were coming. The police were on strike and the mobs were looting and robbing.

We had to go.

Now, the Olympics are in Rio and the world celebrates the games. However, many Brazilians, proud of their country and culture, are excluded from the celebration. They can’t afford it.

Hopefully, these games will be a celebration of the the Olympic spirit which inspires all of us, regardless of country and culture. And, hopefully, that same spirit will help to elevate the quality of life in Brazil and shed light on problems which afflict us all, not just those in Brazil.  Perhaps these games will move an immensely complicated people to search for answers to the growing social ills that color the lives of a very colorful country.

Ripples

I watched the ripple spread out, a circle moving away from the moment in every direction.

I can not change what happened.

Another drop struck the surface and the impact was breathtaking. The whole bowed beneath the one as an elastic crator absorbed the  energy.

In a fluid moment  heat was exchanged. Light.

Love?

A replica of the original, a perfect sphere, hung, momentarily, above the body, then joined the whole in perfect union as the whole rose and consumed the one. Ripples rushed out to herald the moment, which, now, was indistinguishable from other moments.

What ever sense of identity the one possessed, it was drowned in the act of coming together. The one was now whole.

Complete.

Another drop. Another rush. Another ripple. Concentric circles colliding amidst moments of climax.

I can not see the end, the ripples. Their size grows and the moment of conception is lost among the waves.

As I drift beneath the surface I wonder if my moment of impact made a difference.

Raindrops and ripples.
Raindrops and ripples.

Gators and Raindrops on Boggy Creek

Airboats are really loud. If the alligators we were searching for couldn’t hear us coming, they couldn’t hear.

Boggy Creek Airboats.
Boggy Creek Airboats–they’re fast, and fun.

As I put on my sound dampening ear protection, I was pretty sure any, or all, wildlife on Boggy Creek would be gone, scared away by the sounds of a giant airplane prop spinning at a million rpms. When our boat pilot punched it, the airboat jumped, skipping across the water.

We skimmed across sawgrass marsh and into Boggy Creek where the vegetation was thick. The airboat glided over lily pads, grasses and anything else as if it were sliding on ice.  Occasionally the undergrowth would part and reveal that we were, actually, on water.

Reeds and Marsh.
Reeds, marsh and wetlands line Boggy Creek and Lake Toho.

Certain parts of the vegetation were thicker. It looked like dense growths of mangroves, vines, lily pads, grasses, cat tails and other greenish, brownish, orangish stuff had coalesced to form floating islands. As we glided deeper and deeper into the swamp, the vegetation and the floating islands grew thicker.

When our boat pilot cut the engine and the props spun out, the stillness was deafening.

“Look there,” someone on the boat whispered.

Boggy Creek Alligators.
This baby alligator hides among the lily pads of Lake Toho.

A small alligator, maybe 2-and-a-half feet long, scurried over and under branches, and brushes and bushes, then froze. He seemed to know we were watching. Perhaps by not moving he thought we would get bored and go away.

We did–go away. The pilot fired up the engine and we roared off in search of other dragons.

Flying through boggy creek on an airboat is great fun, but the real excitement comes when you stop. In the stillness of the bog and the quiet of a stilled motor, a marvelous world unfolds. The bog is teeming with wildlife. Rare birds, exquisite bugs, unique vegetation, and alligators all share a wetlands eco-system of tremendous diversity.

Wild blooming lilies.
Lilies in bloom in the marshes of Boggy Creek.

Boggy Creek flows into Lake Tohopekaliga, at the very north end of the Kissimmee River, with its system of interconnecting lakes. Not actually within Everglades National Park, Lake Toho and the marshes of Boggy Creek share many commonalities with the Florida wetlands park, including alligators and crocodiles.

Within Everglades National Park numerous rare and endangered species share a protected habitat relatively free from urban encroachment and environmental neglect. Outside the park, just miles from the entrance, no such protections exist. The iconic wetlands outside the park are threatened by over-development and pollution. The eco-system, both inside and outside the Glades, is intimately connected. Unfortunately for wetlands wildlife, there are no doors at the park entrance.

Boggy Creek, Florida.
Boggy Creek flows into Lake Tohopekaliga, near Kissimmee, Florida.

As we returned to the dock, storm clouds gathered above the lake. Lightning flashed, thunder cracked, the skies broke and the rains poured out. The downpour lasted for only a few minutes, but was powerfully cleansing.

When the rains stopped, the air cooled, the sun broke through clouds, calm returned and blue skies once again reflected on the mirror-like waters of Lake Toho. And, for a moment, the airboats were quiet.

 

My Dad, PTSD and Memorial Day

“Get Down. GET DOWN.”

I was 8 years old and my Dad was screaming, “Get Down. Get Down.” I dropped to the floor in our kitchen, frightened by the desperate fear in his shouting.

He jumped out of his easy chair and crashed into our black and white TV. The TV smashed into the wall putting a huge dent in the plaster and my Dad collapsed to the floor.

My Mom came running, “Don, what’s the matter? Are you O.k?”

My Dad jumped up, shouting, “Lookout, in-coming.” He grabbed my Mom and pulled her to the floor. She started to cry. I started to cry. My little brother started to cry.

My Dad was shouting orders. I could hear the gunfire in his words and see the fear in his eyes. I cowered in a corner.

Moments before, my Dad had been sleeping restlessly in his easy chair.  Sometimes, when he had one beer too many, his dreams would carry over into our world. I was afraid when he drank because he never looked like himself. His eyebrows raised and his eyes were hard.

In our kitchen, amidst the shouting, the war played out again. My Mom tried to calm him and eventually the battle would pass and he would sleep, in his chair.

I didn’t understand.

I hadn’t seen war.

My buddies and I watched Combat on TV and played army in the vacant lot down the street.

My Dad fought in World War II and never talked about it with me.

Once, when a friend of his came over and they were drinking, I heard him tell about driving a convoy truck over the mountains in Burma. They were attacked and the steering wheel of the truck came off. He saw me watching and made me leave the room.

Another time I remember hearing him say his transport ship was hit by a German torpedo in the Mediterranean.

I don’t know what happened, but I knew it was bad, because he would scream and shout and swear and give orders in his dreams. He drank too much and I was afraid when he did. My Mom said he was different after the war.

Today I understand more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I can see how the horrors of war continue to rage in the hearts and minds of returning soldiers. My Dad fought it the rest of his life. He died in 1986.

Sometimes, in my dreams I still see him. The last time, he was on the back of a train pulling out of a station. He waved to me. His smile was kind and loving. His face was soft and his eyebrows weren’t raised. I waved back.

I knew my Dad loved me. I knew he worked hard to build a life for his family, one where we would not have to experience the horrors he did. I didn’t know him before the war. But, I can see how the ghosts of war haunted him.

Today, I honor my Dad. I honor his sacrifice. I respect his service. I value his training and I treasure his love. So much of who and what I am, I owe to my Dad and so many others who made and make the  mortal sacrifices required to bless their family’s lives.

God Speed, Dad.

Donald Lockwood Dalrymple, March 13, 1914 – January 30, 1986.
Donald Lockwood Dalrymple, March 13, 1914 – January 30, 1986.

 

 

Morocco–Kingdom of the West

On assignment, I flew in to Rabat, Morocco, on a private jet. As our team proceeded through customs, the agents held us up.

What were we planning to do?
What were we planning to film?
Where would we be going?

Moroccan media is tightly controlled and monitored by the Government. King Mohammed VI takes a personal interest in the message of his country. Foreigners can’t be trusted to portray an accurate or truthful picture of life in Morocco.

Hassan Tower, Rabat, Morocco.
Built of red sandstone in the 10th century, Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco, was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world.

Rabat is the capitol city of The Kingdom of Morocco. Casablanca, made famous by the movie, is the country’s largest city. For more than a thousand years, the Western Kingdom of Morocco, or Marrakesh, was a powerful African dynasty.

Gun turrets of the Kasbah of the Udayas.
Built in the 10th Century A.D.,cannons of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco would fire on Barbary pirates as they sailed up the Bou Regreg River.

Morocco is one of only three countries which have both a Mediterranean and Atlantic coast. From the 16th through 19th centuries, Barbary Pirates attacked ships and traded slaves along the Berber Coasts of Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia and Libya. In 1805, the United States executed a marginally successful military action against members of the Ottoman Empire in an effort to destroy the pirates and free American slaves.  With European colonialism seeking to dominate much of Africa, political and economic tensions grew during the latter part of the 19th century. Moroccan independence essentially ended when France signed a treaty designating Morocco as a French protectorate in 1912. The French governed Morocco until 1956 when Sultan Mohammed V successfully negotiated Moroccan independence.

Mausoleum of Mohammed V.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is the resting place of the late King of Morocco, along with his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.

With Mohammed V’s succession to the throne, the spirit of independence and the power of the Monarchy re-emerged in Morocco. Mohammed V ruled for just 5 years. His son, Hassan II, became king upon his father’s death. Hassan II died in 1999 and his son, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne.

As King, Mohammed VI has implemented progressive changes in Morocco, adopting a new constitution reducing the overall powers of the Monarchy while implementing a Parliamentary government with an  appointed  Prime Minister. Yet, Mohammed VI still wields tremendous power and controls much of the country’s resources.  He personally owns the country’s phosphate mines, which account for 75% of the world’s reserves and he has a net worth greater than the Queen of England.

Fisherman on the Bou Regreg river.
A man watches the waters of Bou Regreg river for signs of fish, while empty boats rest on the opposite shore.

According to the World Health Organization, poverty remains high in Morocco. While Mohammed VI has placed modest emphasis on reducing the widening gap between rich and poor, civil rights abuses, government corruption and economic distress account for an increasingly disaffected populous. On the world stage, The United Nations has criticized Morocco for military action and occupation of a Western Saharan region populated by the indigenous Sahwari people who claim Western Sahara belongs to them.

As we stood in the customs office, the agents explained that we could not bring our equipment into their country. We must return our equipment to the airplane or we would not be allowed to enter. So, we shlepped our heavy black pelican cases back out on to the tarmac and stowed them on the plane.

I keep a camera in my backpack.

Traditional Palace Guards, Rabat, Morocco.
Ceremonial Palace Guards in traditional costume, stand watch on horseback over the official residence of King Mohammed VI.

Politics and customs agents aside,  a highlight of my visit to Morocco was eating lunch at a traditional restaurant which required ritual hand washing before eating.  I held my hands over a beautiful ceramic basin as the Maitre d’ poured warm water from a hand painted glazed pitcher. Another waiter provided a warm towel to dry with. I don’t remember much about the food, but, as we were leaving the restaurant, the Maitre d’ repeated the washing experience by pouring warm rose water over our hands. The scent was strong and pleasing and stayed with me throughout the day.

Now, when I catch the scent of roses, I am transported back to that tiny restaurant in Rabat. I hear the call to prayer echoing across the ancient city and I want to reach in my backpack and check to see if my camera is still there.

Desert Ghosts

The air was dry–bone-dust drifting on a desert draft. A storm was coming, you just couldn’t see it yet.

I could hear an engine–distant but closing. The angry sound broke a stillness the desert was reluctant to give up.

Desert dirt road.
Arizona highway? Just a dirt road in the desert.

A Border Patrol agent looked like he was cruising main on Saturday night, one hand on the wheel and one arm out the window–low and slow, The mud caked SUV stopped rolling and a red dust cloud wafted across the sun.

“What you boys doin’ out here?”

Grit ground in my teeth and I spat. “Taking pictures.” I held up my camera.

“Nice night for it,” he said. The sun was setting, but it wasn’t night yet. “Best be careful.”

The way he said it, I wondered if I should call my attorney. I nodded, not agreeing, just nodding.

Marana sunset.
Arizona sunset near Marana, Arizona.

“Ghosts,” he said, shaking his head like I knew what he was talking about, “don’t leave no tracks.”  He looked  down at the dirt and I couldn’t see his eyes. “They like to cross the border after dark.”

He continued to study the sandy ground for a long moment. Then he looked up. Our eyes met.

“Watch yourselves,”  he said.

A coyote howled in the distance.

“Ghosts,” he said again. He tipped his hat and the SUV lurched forward. Tire tracks appeared where tires used to be and a new dust cloud buried their trail.

As the SUV disappeared into the desert, the sun touched a mountain and set the sky on fire.  Quiet fell on falling dust.

Arizona Sunset.
Sunset near Marana, Arizona.

My friend came out of the brush with his camera and tripod.

“What was that about?”

I thought I knew, but I wasn’t sure. I could hear movement in the brush. Footsteps, maybe.

“Ghosts.”  I Pressed the cable release on my camera. The mirror popped up and the shutter opened. The sound was louder than I remembered.  “They like to cross the border after dark.”

Lightning flashed on the horizon. The sound of a distant jet called from above. The coyote howled again.

Moon rise.
A crescent moon rises after sunset over the Arizona desert.

We stayed there taking pictures until long after the light was gone.

 

Stopping by Woods…

I lived in New England for two years. My first winter was spent in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, my second winter in Maine. Both winters were brutal. I was cold all the time. Nor’easters or down’easters were common. I survived the blizzard of ’78. One storm was so bad we couldn’t open our apartment door because the snow drifts were too high. We had to climb out the window and dig out the snow so we could open the door. Another time, we lost power for days because the ice storms had stripped the power lines and trees. The damage was horrific. But the world was sparklingly beautiful. It was during this time that I fell in love with the poetry of Robert Frost. His words evoke imagery and meaning with powerful poetic device which transcends place.

DSC05228_29_30_Mountain FenceI no longer live in the east. Yet the seemingly simple home spun lessons of the New England poet stay with me. The words resonate in my western surroundings in spite of their New England sensibilities. Frost’s poetic imagery transcends time and place. The inspiration I found in the New England woods is also to be found in the Wasatch Mountains.

STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

by Robert Frost (an extract)

DSC05253_4_5_Snowy WoodsWhose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow…

…The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

MENDING WALL
by Robert Frost (an extract)

DSC05207_Snow Fence…He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours”…