Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I sometimes feel like Alice
bewildered and amazed.
One moment I am ten feet tall
the next I am so very small
hardly there at all.
Too bad I wasn’t given a script
what to do and how to do it
what to say and who to say it to
It’s all improvisation, and I have to
make do, muddle through
for me and you.
© Perle Champion

Which way did the rabbit go?

Friday, October 19, 2007

There’s No Place Like Home - Journal Entry

Home, but I am still haunted by the Estate Sale.  How does one write away this day? The wine runs warm in my veins, as I wander from room to room. I touch the embroidered duvet that holds my down comforter on the futon that is my bed.

I glance and smile at the small altar with flickering candle in the corner of the room, touch the bar by the kitchen where I sit most mornings and sip coffee from an old gilt-edged cup, eat breakfast and pat cat who sits on the stool beside me. I remind myself as I pass through the dining room, that I really should refinish the pub table and chairs someday. I’ve been going to do it for 10 years.

The old couch in the living room – comfortable from day one – is still sturdy, if a little worn. How many books have I read curled up in one corner of it or another? The bentwood rocker, where I rocked Dawn, now grown and gone her own way, is now the cat's favorite perch. She leaps up and settles to rock and then does it again and again. I pass the old chair made of 2X4’s with a macramé seat holding a queen-sized pillow in red silk slip. I made it for my first apartment. A single mom at 18, I could just afford a real bed for the kid and not much for me. The large glass coffee table strewn with memories on its second shelf: mouth blown glass fishermen’s’ floats collected at the beach so long ago, a wizard carved in wood with a staff in his hand, my very own crystal ball and far too many books.

I make my way to and through the French doors to the table and chair on the balcony. It’s wrought iron and wooden with canvas covered seats I made myself. I sit, pen in hand to blank page to write away the day and nothing comes.

How does one write away a day like this? To know that all my treasures will one day be another’s trash. I cannot get this morning’s estate sale out of my mind.

The house was just over off Elm and Monroe – the big pink monstrosity Ba and I so often joked about. We’d gone to many such sales. The elderly in this quiet Virginia-Highland neighborhood are of an age where deaths are frequent. Today’s sale in the old pink house was different. The old woman sat there at the table next to her daughter and the woman running the sale and watched with eyes glazed and knowing, as we strangers fingered first this, then that.

How must she feel to watch all she owns and holds dear parceled out at pennies on the dollar – sold to strangers? How many family dinners did she prepare on that old stove? Which of the handmade aprons on the rack at a dollar apiece did she wear and wash and iron with care most often? How many children’s tears did she wipe away with its hem? How often was each one blessed with cookie dust and messy-mouthed hugs?

I know we shouldn’t be slaves to possessions – mere things mean nothing – I wonder.

The iron bed in the corner of her bedroom looks so very old; its tired mattress has a hollow place down its very center. Once she lay with a husband there and perhaps birthed and nursed this daughter sitting beside her – now grown, gavel in hand – going, going, gone.

Without a biographer for our lives, all we leave behind are things that chronicle our passage. But few will know and fewer remember, if I don’t tell them, the importance of each piece. I say importance, but their only value is to me – they are a gentle prod to memory of a life lived. It is the memory that is dear to the soul. Sell them or give them away when I’m gone – when she’s gone. But to have her sit and watch – how cruel is that?

The thoughts were there this morning, as I walked from room to room in that house. I knew what I would write – the words flowing through my head sounded so profound. But as I sit here now with pen in hand, as night creeps toward me, those words have fled on down the road as if they’d never been – perhaps to someone who would give them immediate attention and not dawdle over other things.

Now of the thousand thoughts I had this morning, all are gone and I sit here with an empty page and fill it with feelings roughly cobbled into word after word hoping to shake loose a few gems still lingering somewhere deep within that would end this piece brilliantly. But I have none of my own; I can only think of that line from a childhood movie.

"There's no place like home."

© Perle Champion

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Power of Ritual - Kicking Leaves – One of Fall’s Simple Pleasures

I noticed the leaves last night, as I sat at writing by the balcony window of my aerie. Every breeze blows them in a golden yellow rain past my window.

I walked out the door this morning and the golden leaves lay on the sidewalk swept into little mounds by nature’s own broomstick – the wind.

I couldn't resist; I didn’t even try. I walked through each mound, kicking leaves as I went about my morning walk. I watched them scatter and take flight one last time – blown here and there by the insistent wind. It is a ritual of the season.

“You’re having too much fun for a grown-up.” The voice from behind startled me from reverie. I turned to see a white-haired suited man with shiny shoes carefully walking around or over each mound of leaves.

“No such thing as too much fun.” I answered. “And harm none, do what you will, and I will have fun.”

A simple thing like kicking leaves triggers memory and takes me back to all every Fall that came before. I feel sheer joy in the crisp air that rouges my cheeks. I can actually hear the cacophony of colors and sounds amplified through time, and I am there again far away and long in that invincible childhood.

Winters invited abandon. I lay flat out in boundless snow, arms akimbo then fanning out arms and legs leaving traces of angel’s wings and robes. Spring brought warm rains to walk in with or without an umbrella, puddles to jump in, and new flowers to pick. Summer’s arrival called for swimming holes still cold, running through sprinkles in the yard, and laying in the yard late a night hoping for a shooting star.

Fall was all about the leaves, a rain of colors - yellow, red and russet. I caught the leaves as they fell; jumped from the porch into the carefully raked mountain of their colored splendor; and ran down the sidewalk scattering them asunder – kicking leaves. Fall was so much fun then.

The ritual is still a pleasure. I carry pressed in memory all the Falls that came before, and all the leaves I’ve ever seen, smelled, or held.

It is one of many rituals to celebrate the passing of seasons. When there are enough leaves to kick, I walk and walk for miles, kicking leaves and looking at trees, and smelling the very change in the air. Fall is here, and Winter can’t be far behind. At home, it is time to rake the leaves and bank them up around the base of plants and trees to warm and feed the roots so they will winter well and bloom again in Spring. The leaves lose their brilliant colors in the service of the garden, except in memory held close until this time next year, which will find me once again kicking leaves.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Book Review Monday - The Letter – By: Richard Paul Evans

It’s coming on that time of year – the Holidays. There are movies I watch, and a few books I revisit. Richard Paul Evans' first 3 books are on that list.

The Letter – By: Richard Paul Evans – Reviewed by Perle Champion
First published in Birmingham Weekly

‘The Letter’ a good way to tie up ‘Christmas Box’ trilogy

This is an old-fashioned moral tale. Questions are raised; bad things happen to good people; lessons are learned; and love is the message. Think It’s a Wonderful Life, and you instantly know what I mean.

In The Letter, Richard Evans tells a story that tugs at parts of our hearts we don’t often acknowledge. It is the final book in The Christmas Box collection. All three books are good reading, but I liked The Christmas Box best.

The Christmas Box introduces us to MaryAnne Parkin, an aging widow whose bittersweet memories haunt her nights and harry her days as she tries t convey the true meaning of Christmas and life to a young couple and their daughter.

In The Timepiece, book two in the collection, we meet MaryAnne as a young woman in trouble, who is rescued and married by the wealthy businessman, David Parkin. Before the novel’s end, their idyllic life is torn asunder by bigots of the time because of David’s good deed. He saves his friend Lawrence, who is black, from sure death by lynching.

In The Letter book three, we enter the Parkins’life when love seems a fading memory. They are two people living solitary lives together until MaryAnne can’t stand it any more and goes back to England where she was born. She leaves behind a letter and The Letter. The letter, mysteriously left on the grave of the Parkins’ only child, leads David in search of the mother who abandoned him when he was six. He doesn’t find her, but he does find himself and realizes that is what he was looking for all along.

Crisis brings MaryAnne and David home to sit by the bed of their dying friend, Lawrence. David remembers Lawrence once likening love t a tree that needs taking care of. David realizes that love needs nurturing and that, like a tree, neglect is its death knell. MaryAnne and David rekindle their love and fall back into the blissful days of their early life together until real life intrudes once again.

Bad things do happen to good people but good people do go on. I wish Evans ended his story on a more upbeat note, but he has an agenda – moralists always do There is no gathering under the tree at the end here, and no bell rings when Evans’ angel gets his wings.

Note: Evans has a brand new book out Called the Gift – It’s on my list of books to review next month.
Excerpt from his website: The Gift - “The Bible says that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. My story is about one of God’s weak things. His name is Collin, a frail, beautiful little boy with a very special gift.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Some Beach, Some Where

I ran away today. When the sun didn’t come, I sat back on the sheltered balcony and watched the clouds pour forth to wash fresh my world. The steady din of rain upon the roof of this small place is a song, one of many that I love. The storm passes and I’m free to walk on.

All the sounds of life surround me: the wind rustling the long grasses, gulls flying low and calling to me hopeful for a crumb, and the surf, the ever-pounding surf. The surf pushes and pulls me as I walk through its flow, shoes tied and slung across my shoulder, bare feet on sand leaving a fleeting imprint on the strand

I meander from the water to the strand and back again – one mile becomes two and then three and more. The water is so cold at first, as I walk through the surf. Slowly, the cold becomes simply something I am aware of just as I feel the texture of the sand and feel the breeze blow my smock out behind me like a black sail. I keep to my pathless path and continue into the wind. The sail does not direct my course.

I’m not sure what the locals think – I know they stop and stare. They are all bundled against the elements, so careful to stay dry and warm – it is a chilly day. I’m not totally foolish; I have three layers of tops on: a turtle neck and sweatshirt and my black sweat smock (albeit, unbuttoned) down to my bare knees and damp rolled up shorts.

I could not resist the water, so off came the shoes and socks. The Sperry’s would have survived the salt waves and sand, but then they wouldn’t be dry for later. The socks are stuffed in their toes and the leather laces tied in a bow across my shoulder. I can walk freely barefoot and feel the earth beneath me.

I look down at the tan feet with red polished toenails just beneath the water, as if they belong to someone else. Perhaps they do – I feel renewed, reborn – not quite the self I was when I arrived. It is hard to explain how clean I feel; how so much washed away with the ebbing tide; how small and insignificant everything becomes when I walk alone along the oceans edge and face the awesomeness of it all.

The horizon is all water now and the only shoreline is the one I tread. Civilization, for the moment is so far away.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Book Review Monday - Encanchaata

Enhanchata By: Robert Ely – Reviewed by Perle Champion
First published in First Draft Magazine

Robert Ely’s Encanchata is a very slender book of poems. He begins it with a “Note – Encanchata, also spelled ‘Ikantchati,’ was a Creek Indian village on the high bluffs of the Alabama River near the site that eventually became the city of Montgomery.” The Note sets the tone and sense f place for the poems that follow. As Ely has a law practice in Montgomery; it is that place from which he writes.

The opening poem, “Seed,” has a haunting quality that evokes a sense of the ephemeral that ties the past to our present. “Brown magnolia leaf,/ Young brave’s skidding moccasin/ (Writes no one’s long name)…Did I imagine stream, or/ Did a thought / Of autumn lakes at dawn/ Escape my empty cup?”

In “Affinities,” Ely takes the everyday interaction of anyone, anywhere in work-a-day America, and addresses the space between each of us. That space is the Star of this poem and gives a person pause. The ordinary interactions of people are rendered extraordinary as we consider, “If the instant accident/ That arcs the gap between two bodies/ Is aware of loneliness or love.”

Reaction to poetry is usually visceral, and it should be. Poetry is the personal interior conversation of one person made public. You either relate to it or not. You either like it or not.

There are eleven poems in this slim volume – I like it.