Love Letters

From Zelda to F. Scott Fitzgerald dated December 1931


The house sleeps in the ashes of the open fires and Julia and I have sent you some cakes just so you will know we are always thinking of you. Scottie is making you a surprise for Christmas and I have something that will make you laugh. It's such a homey, dozing time when the days are wet and pliable as potters' mud and warmth drones inside the windows and over the hearth and I miss you terribly...



Abigail Adams to John Adams, dated March 31, 1776

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”


Smoke Signals

From: J. L. Smoak to PJ Braley dated October 2015

What is happening outside my window?  Literally...two stories of unlikely things that have touched me. I think a part of me just never grew up.....one is a bit long and wordy....hope prove to be a positive diversion. Oh, I made no attempt at artistic writing....but you will see that for yourself.

I remember, this summer, one morning I noticed a mocking bird outside, looking into my campers' big window. Looking back and forth as if there were something urgent he was trying to tell me, he flew away and then flew back again.  He repeated this.  I went outside to see what was happening......he was flying to a bird feeder I had hung in a tree nearby.  The seed had run out and it was nesting season and many birds were busy preparing for or raising little ones. Until nesting season was over....he or she kept returning to my window to let me know to refill my feeder, when I had forgotten.
Almost two years ago, when I lived beside the pond down a mile long dirt road far from everything, but near everything important. One December morning my cat, Shadow, found a tiny little mouse shivering from the cold under my camper. As I got close to him, his stood up on his hind legs. He appeared so fragile, normally, I would rescue him away from Shadow's play and release him into the woods. But I didn't think he would survive, so I brought him inside put him in a small bucket. I had no cheese, so I dropped in some almonds and a bottle lid of water.  He got healthy, grew a bit, seemed really content and happy. He ate almonds out of my hand and I got attached. I named him Harvey. Selfishly I got a nice little cage, he seemed to like his new digs. But I began to feel guilty and thought of letting go...but tried to justify it as keeping him safe from harm.
Then when I decided to leave the pond, I felt it was time. The afternoon the day before I was to leave, I carried his cage far down the bank of the pond out into the forest.  I put his cage on the leaves and opened the door. He came outside, looked around and came back to me, he stood in front of me on his back legs and looked way up right at me. I said, "you're free, go" he began to hop and scamper around in different directions and I walked away. I left the next morning, a truck came to tow my camper to a clearing beside my brother's home.
A few days later I found a bowl that I had left a few almonds in overnight on a table beside my couch. I recognized Harvey's bite marks. I could hardly believe it. He had come all that way through the forest during the night and found his way back into the camper and made the journey with me to my brother's. Each night I put out two almonds and a lid of water for him, each morning they were gone.  The almonds disappeared each and everyday for three weeks. During this time I saw him once dart from a closet to under a cabinet.  Positive id, It was him - he had a distinctive marking. Then he missed a night, then a couple of days later, three nights in a row. Then he was gone.  I think the cat simply frightened him away and he relocated to the forest, because he came back one last time two weeks later for two nights in a row he ate almonds out of my bowl.
No sign of him since.
A month later, I opened a seldom used bottom drawer and found his little cache of almonds, put aside for a rainy day.
That was over a year ago.