January 20, 2018

A Visit (Not Today)

A Visit (Not Today)
By John R.Greenwood 

I felt the urge to sprinkle some words down on paper and bring them with me for my visit. Like bringing a three-bean casserole or loaf of fresh baked banana-nut bread. People don’t come for visits anymore. There are no surprise knocks on the door. Saturday afternoon visits in the knotty-pine den in my childhood home are now reduced to clicking a Facebook “like” on a friends dinner plate photo. There are no faces or voices left, only vagueness and a slight sense of what their laugh was like when someone shared a, “Remember the time” moment. 

Growing up, our front door was never locked. In fact, unless it was cold enough for the heat to be on, the front door was usually propped open with a ceramic frog. There was no peephole or deadbolt. No paint or varnish either. 

When my father’s friend Jack came to visit he would knock a half-dozen machine gun knocks then burst in the door. You always knew it was Jack by the way he stomped his feet on the  coco fiber Welcome mat. I smile thinking of his forced entry, his wavy grey hair, and his gossipy news from the village up the road a mile. 

I miss those days when friends and relatives would pull in the driveway unexpectedly and stay for a long afternoon visit. I miss the shared stories, the laughing, and the intimacy of real live people in our home. That’s why I needed to write this down and share it, so that you might unfold the moment one day and recall the day a friend stopped by for a visit. 

* I wrote this piece in anticipation of sharing it with a writing class I was planning to visit this morning. As I've been known to do I got the date wrong and the class had been moved to another date. I thought the simple piece was still worth sharing here. Thanks for stopping by, it's been awhile... -jrg

November 25, 2017


By John R. Greenwood

I’ve come to embrace quiet.
Quiet unlike silence includes 
the steady hum of the clothes dryer 
in the other room. Pre-dawn, when 
the traffic is sparse the tic and tock
of a wall clock whispers a familiar rhythm. 
It’s November, the heat is on. 
The faint cracks and clicks of the 
warm flowing through the metal vents
remind me to be grateful 
for the roof above my head.
Quiet allows mindful thought, while the brain 
stretches and idles gently beside.
The best quiet is made of layer upon 
layer of distant sounds. Soft and soothing 
sounds that carry no threat nor angst.
Peace and quiet are rare, like the quiet knock 
of a childhood friend at the backdoor.
A friend you haven’t seen in years. 
A friend you dearly miss and weren't expecting. 

November 21, 2017

Turkey Hunting

Turkey Hunting
By John R. Greenwood

Heading out to go Turkey Hunting

Its turkey season and the adrenaline is pumping. You can feel the excitement in the air every November after the leaves have been raked and the frost-stricken mums are beginning to brown. There are signs of turkey season everywhere. Camo hats, mugs, boots, and jackets are visible around every corner. Whether you're in a Walmart parking lot or your doctor’s office waiting room, you will find a hint of camouflage. Turkey sounds, pictures, and banners infiltrate internet ads and the sales brochures overflowing our mailboxes. There is no escaping the fact that turkey season about to gobble us up. The surest sign turkey season is happening in our home is the twinkle in Mrs. G’s eyes. They begin to sparkle soon after the bottom of the Halloween candy dish peeks through. It's taken decades for me to prepare for what’s about to transpire in the coming days. I sense the transition when fleeces replace windbreakers and Harvest Blend K-cups replace Nantucket Blend.  

Heading into turkey backcountry at 7:00am

Its now time to cinch up my boot laces, grab the car keys and ready myself for the Turkey Hunt. No matter how hard I've tried to convince my turkey hunting half that I'd be perfectly happy carving a turkey breast instead of a Buick-sized Butterball she never flinches. Regardless of how many will be at our Thanksgiving Day table you can rest assured that in our home there will  be a beautiful turkey with all the trimmings. We will enjoy a traditional meal whether all the chairs or just two are filled. This is one holiday tradition that is nonnegotiable in my home. The more I try to steer the ship to a smaller less involved event my wife holds steadfast to preparing and providing us with the true Thanksgiving experience. Why I try to rock the boat and change its course, is a question a slow to learn husband will never come close to answering. 

That bird didn't have a prayer!

This year though I think I finally got it. 

I now realize that it’s not about the food or the preparation for my wife it’s about continuing a ritual she’s been following since our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife in 1974. Its about setting out a bowl of nuts and the nutcracker. Its about cream cheese filled celery and oven-brown dinner rolls. It’s about setting the table with a harvest of color and warmth. Its about family, whether they're there or not there. When I try to manipulate the turkey hunt and make it about dollars and cents or need versus necessity I tread on sacred ground. I should have learned by now to simply embrace and appreciate how fortunate I am and how thankful I should be to have married someone who still holds on to the traditions and rituals that we’ve been working on together for forty-three years. 

"Successful Hunt #43"

What else am I thankful for this year? 

My family of course. 

And successful turkey hunt #43. 

Hope you bagged a big one too. 

Happy Thanksgiving!