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Poem for Saturday: Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

"Summer", pastel, 12" x 24", 1998 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Summer”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1998 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’m a little late with this, considering it’s the first day of August, but July slipped by so quickly—and even in August, you’ll see these same things. A little trip on the highway on a perfectly beautiful summer day brought this all back.

Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
“Freedom”
“Prosperity”
“Harmony”
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned,
its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar; this poem was one of those selected. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

. . . . . . .

About the artwork above

“Summer” is an abandoned farm field on a high ridge which I passed regularly on the way to work each morning for six years, seen right after an early morning storm. I would reach this portion of my drive and pause to look at this field with the morning unfolding above it, different each day, take a deep breath, and go on. The site was developed a few years later, but I still remember that each time I pass by it, even now. It’s one of a four-part commission I painted years ago featuring the four seasons in Western Pennsylvania. Read more about the painting, “Summer”, above, and purchase a digital, giclee or canvas print from my Etsy shop.


poetry book

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

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Poem for Sunday: Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Fence with queen anne's lace
Fence with queen anne's lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

I’m a little late with this, considering it’s August, but July slipped by so quickly—and even in August, you’ll see these same things. A little trip on the highway on a perfectly beautiful summer day brought this all back.

Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
“Freedom”
“Prosperity”
“Harmony”
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned,
its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Poem for Saturday: Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Fence with queen anne's lace
Fence with queen anne's lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

I’m a little late with this, considering it’s August, but July slipped by so quickly—and even in August, you’ll see these same things. In truth, I’d wanted to do a photo slideshow and record this one, maybe for next year.

Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
“Freedom”
“Prosperity”
“Harmony”
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned,
its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


December Mosses

photo of mosses in the woods
photo of mosses in the woods

Mosses

The mosses have been so thrilled with the unusually warm weather they are glowing, especially on an overcast day.

Do you suppose mosses were the original inspiration for shag carpeting?


Autumn, 2011

autumn hillside
autumn hillside

Autumn

A hillside suddenly blazes with color.

Everything started with a few yellow leaves, then an orange tinge flickered, but I was lost when the red burst upon the trees.

I didn’t go anywhere special, this was just on my way to a printer where I drive frequently. A sight like this can nearly make you wreck your car if you don’t prepare for it.


Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania: poem with photo

Fence with queen anne's lace
Fence with queen anne's lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

ROAD TRIP, LATE JULY, WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA

Green, green waves ahead

diminishing to blue over the northern horizon

exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain

to rolling hills and misted hollows

interstate unrolled as ribbon

around hill and following valley,

signs noting unseen destinations

bearing hopeful small town names:

“Freedom”

“Prosperity”

“Harmony”

little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,

glittering in the vales;

a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills

soaking opposite side of road

but the sun shines brightly ahead,

occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions

gives instructions to change directions

slowing pace to allow a close and careful study

of native plants along the roadside,

a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned, its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass

as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;

then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,

a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,

once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;

clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,

old farms and equipment,

rusted industrial structures,

a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,

some cows on a hillside,

and everywhere roadside stands

celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;

collect loose change from pockets and floor of car

and with the dole,

buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski

In December, 2006, I submitted two of my poems on a section of the A Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” set up for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. This poem was one of them, along with “Dogwoods”. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself.

I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers. My friend Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems, suggested I host a poetry reading as part of the facility’s annual offerings, and along with the reading to hang a show of my related art and photography. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me as I hosted five poetry readings, “Paths I Have Walked” and the art exhibit “Art of the Watershed”, from 2007 to 2011.

From the first four of these readings I self-published a slim book of poetry organized into the four readings, each of which had a seasonal theme. Read more about the poetry readings and the book on my website.

And I’m working on a few paintings from photos taken along the way on several road trips; when I get these done I will link to this post.


Steep

black and white photo of steep streets and houses

Steep

Just a typical street running down a hill to cross the railroad tracks, then back up and over the other side, and many other narrow streets running parallel up and down and over the hills, and more narrow streets crossing those with their grids of power lines above, and houses and businesses crowding close to sidewalks and to each other, one hundred years and more after they were built in a European style by and for immigrants to carry on their lives in a new country.

This is Glendale, PA, next door to Carnegie.


Taking the Measure of a Tree: 2010

    The Red Oak Tree lifts its craggy old arms to a gray winter sky.

The Red Oak Tree lifts its craggy old arms to a gray winter sky.

Of course there was no February 29 in 2010, but because the extra day is about time, I’m reposting two posts that are, more or less, about time.

So this tree may have been a sapling during the Revolutionary War, and witnessed the Whiskey Rebellion on one of the battlefields of that little uprising.

The trouble with trees is that they can’t talk, though they’ve seen so much where they stand when we humans think they can’t understand what we are saying; even a younger tree has stories to tell, I’m sure, but those elders can talk about centuries.

This particular Red Oak tree is on the Scott Conservancy’s Kane’s Woods property which was once part of the estate of John Neville, aide to President Washington and on the government’s side in the Whiskey Rebellion. Neville’s mansion, Bower Hill, located about a quarter mile from where this tree stands, was burned during the uprising by soldier-farmers who disagreed with the government.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Whiskey Rebellion, aside from Shay’s rebellion it was the first major civil, then martial, action by the citizens and government of the new country. In order to to pay off the national debt incurred by the Revolutionary War, President Washington and his Treasurer Alexander Hamilton decided to impose a tax in 1791, choosing carriages and alcohol.

While I’m sure many an individual enjoyed a glass at the end of the day, and alcohol was also used for many medicinal purposes from medicine to extracting oils and essences from fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, and for preserving foodstuffs for winter consumption, grain alcohol was also made as the most convenient way to use up, store and ship extra grain produced on the farm. Alcohol was the most marketable item a farmer produced since selling produce and fresh meat was nearly impossible considering the isolation and difficulty of traveling in those days, and preserved foods and meats could only be sold in one season. Nearly every farm produced some alcohol to be used in home remedies and food preservation, and because actual cash was a scarce commodity in those early days it was also used for barter, and it could also be shipped and sold at any time of the year.

I’m not sure about the carriages tax, but the whiskey tax was on the makers of whiskey based on their volume, 9 cents on the gallon for small makers and 6 cents for large distillers or a flat tax based on their previous year’s volume, which clearly favored the larger distillers; incidentally, President Washington was a large distiller. Because most small farmers made it for personal use and barter this was a hardship since no money changed hands for a portion of the whiskey they produced, and for the other portion it was often the only income to a small farmer for an entire year.

By 1794 farmers had gone from civil disobedience to armed conflict numbering almost 13,000 and began terrorizing the tax collectors, judges and federal officials, including major landowners known to be friendly with President Washington. Neville was one of these, but he had two houses and simply sent his family down the hill to “Woodville” when the protesters arrived.

BACK TO THE TREE…one of Scott Conservancy’s members had estimated the tree at about 170 years by using an equation of the tree’s circumference and its height, but an accurate height couldn’t be obtained, and the closest guess was about 70 feet.

They called in the DCNR and the forestry expert measured the tree’s diameter, 52″ and circumference, 14′, more accurately, and later used an instrument to triangulate the tree’s height at about 82 feet.

The core sampling was difficult to obtain in a tight-grained Red Oak, partly because most trees that old have lost their heartwood to rot or inhabitants, as this one did. But the 8 inches that did come out showed about five inches of tight grain, and while it’s difficult to tell when the wood is fresh and wet, apparently about 56 years could be counted just in that little sample. The age guess has increased to about 225 years.

Red Oak trees are naturally occurring in this part of Pennsylvania, but they are also the sort of tree people would plant as a permanent marker—a property border, for instance, or to mark the spot of a momentous occasion. This was no doubt cleared farmland when this distinguished tree began reaching its young limbs toward the sky from the rocky soil of this steep slope, and perhaps it marked the corner of a pasture, or the edge of a piece of land someday deeded to a son, or perhaps to commemorate the survival of a young union of states.

As for the Whiskey Tax, it was abolished in 1802, never having been adequately collected, but it also had the effect of pushing the production of whiskey outside the union of 13 states into Kentucky and Tennessee, whose residents also discovered that excess corn was probably better for making whiskey, and the rest is history of another sort.

You can read more about the Scott Conservancy and find links to information about the Whiskey Rebellion on the Scott Conservancy’s website.


December Mosses

photo of mosses in the woods

Mosses

The mosses have been so thrilled with the unusually warm weather they are glowing, especially on an overcast day.

Do you suppose mosses were the original inspiration for shag carpeting?


Autumn

autumn hillside

Autumn

A hillside suddenly blazes with color.

Everything started with a few yellow leaves, then an orange tinge flickered, but I was lost when the red burst upon the trees.

I didn’t go anywhere special, this was just on my way to a printer where I drive frequently. A sight like this can nearly make you wreck your car if you don’t prepare for it.