Sparks

Fruit Tree

By Camille Sherman I will plant a fruit tree and she will be my legacy. The neighborhood children will recognize her stature, her fullness, as a landmark. They’ll traipse over her fallen blossoms in the spring, ride past her on their bikes, see her from their windows. They will think she has been there forever, like the houses and street signs watching over their restless afternoons and summer evenings. They won’t know she was planted by someone who was once a child too. They will stand at her base and look up at her, thinking that she, like their mothers and fathers, has always been this tall. Camille Sherman is a professional opera singer from the Bay Area. She trained at The Boston Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory of music, and served as an Artist in Residence at Pensacola Opera and Portland Opera. She currently lives in Portland, where…

Sparks

Humor

By Karen Handyside Ely When the day is dark humor will light my way.   When the world crumbles humor will shore me up.   Tears will flow, not from sorrow, but born of laugher.   Nothing is so bad that humor cannot soften it.   Nothing is so sacred that humor cannot humanize it.   When the only way “through” is a walk of fire,   humor will insulate my path. As long as we can laugh   at the absurdities of life, we can persevere.   Humor cannot change our challenges, but it can grease the skids,   shepherd us along, help us to survive.   I will face each day with humor and the grace it provides. As long as I can laugh, I can breathe.   Humor is my lifeboat, my safe space,   the fuel my soul runs on.   Karen Handyside Ely Karen was born and raised in Petaluma,…

Sparks

The Sound of Wind

By Su Shafer The sound of wind is cold – gray waves, frigid and broken,  rushing up a Northern shore. It’s a hollow sound, like a flute without music. An echo undying. Emptiness longing to be filled. A mournful wail unanswered. The despairing lamentation  of invisible hands searching, sweeping ahead blindly. Dry leaves scuttle sideways like old crabs on stick legs. They rattle their empty claws at its passing, then lay still. Su Shafer is a creative writer and sometime poet who lives in the Pacific Northwest, where flannel shirts are acceptable as formal wear and strong coffee is a way of life. There, in a small Baba Yaga house perched near the entrance to The Hidden Forest, odd characters are brewing with the morning cup, and a strange new world is beginning to take shape . . .

Book Reviews

Ernestine

Book Review by Nancy Julien Kopp: Historical fiction brings the reader into another time period and can also tell a special story. Ernestine is Kate Reynolds’s debut novel, but she is no amateur when it comes to crafting a fascinating story that draws readers quickly and holds them right up to the end using beautiful and descriptive prose. When only a child in the early 1500s, Ernestine learned how to cheat at betting games and became a fine bunco artist at her father’s tutelage. Once a young woman, she marries the man she loves, helps him run an inn in France, and is happy being nothing more than a loving wife. When Sebastian dies, she flees with documents he and his brother had hidden, documents that could be world-changing.  Ernestine takes the vows of a Clarissa nun and finds her way to an abbey in Spain near Granada. She knows she is…

Sparks

A Life Not Unencumbered

By Ken Delpit A life without encumbrances, now that would be something. Can there possibly be such a thing? Among mortal human beings, it is hard to see how. Living encourages encumbrances. Living entails encumbrances. To live is to be encumbered. Encumbrances are the baggage fees that we pay for our journey. Encumbrance-free living for most ordinary humans is a foreign concept. For some, it may be a distant dream. For many or most, though, it is beside the point. For these folks, navigating the encumbrances is what life is about. “Next,” as a primal motivating force. Where to go next, what to do next, what to think next. The trouble with navigating head-down from a mental map, however detailed or vague the map, is that it necessitates a removal of self from the process. You are not the observant traveler. You are the bus driver. You transport yourself here…

Sparks

Blessings

By Cheryl Moore Despite the pandemic, despite the looming drought, despite the growing tensions in the world—we are living in a wonderful time. On clear mornings, I see the warm pink in the eastern sky where the sun is about to rise. This time of year, April, it rises between two tall palms across the street—in June it will rise behind Sonoma Mountain. This is the most beautiful time in the garden —leaves on trees just breaking open, giving a lacy feel against the blue skies. Rose buds are opening and iris unfolding on their tall stalks. California poppies are everywhere and fields are full of mustard. Bird song fills the air as males find mates and begin nest building. Soon there will be small yellow ducklings trailing their parents down at the river and fishermen will sit on the bank to see what the incoming tide will bring.  Besides…

Sparks

Waking Up on a Spring Morning

By Deb Fenwick On spring mornings, after a long brittle winter, the truth is everywhere. It begins at dawn. Not that I wake up that early anymore. These days, I sleep until the sun is high in the warm sky. But I remember thirty years of sunrise drives—drives where a glowing, golden-pink ribbon stretched languidly across Lake Michigan. Like it had all the time in the world. Unhurried. Unlike me. The sky had no need to rush to work. To meet deadlines. To prove its worth. From the driver’s seat, I watched the morning clouds, dumbstruck some days, because they seemed to delight in their own essence. Those early morning skies seemed, somehow, to speak to something truer than the life I was living at the time. In those days, I didn’t have time for walks where I watched the earth wake up to its magnificent self. The glory song…