Cicadas & Snowbirds


Cicada. Photo by Shannon Potter from Unsplash.

Cicadas & Snowbirds

Late September now…

Cicadas singing swan songs,

summer’s last hurrah!

Still rainy in Florida…

raindrops dripping from palm trees.

Photo by Roberto Vivano from Pexels.

Hurricane season

giving way in October…

Birds migrating south,

nesting and raising their young

in Florida’s bright blue days.

Photo by Marisa Howenst from Unsplash.

November. Snowbirds,

fleeing winter’s snowy blast,

also migrate south.

Their nesting days are over…

Grandchildren come to visit.

Photo by Tima Miroshni from Pexels.

Holiday visitors flock

to warm, Florida beaches

in sunny December.

On the beach with grandchildren.

Radio plays “White Christmas.”

Beach in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by Sarah Granger from Unsplash.

January days.

Bermuda shorts and sweaters

on the golf course.

Delightful weather!

February…still golfing!

Florida Golf Course. Photo by Mick Haupt from Unsplash.

In March and April,

snowbird thoughts turn northward

to dogwoods in bloom.

Snowbirds take their flight

to their summer homes up North.

Dogwood Tree. Photo by Jonathan Hana from Unsplash.

May…hot and sunny.

Cicada chorus and rain

June through September.

Hurricane season waning.

Cicadas sing finale.

Cicada. Photo by Stephen Walker from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Katey and Joe Batavia visit their Snowbird Grandparents, Renee and Gabe Batavia. Boynton Beach, Florida, circa 1996. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

My Dad, My Hero

Photo from Adobe Stock

My Dad, My Hero

My father never had any sisters. He grew up a wild boy skipping school to swim in the creek and trap skunks. In high school he was a basketball star very popular with girls, several of whom wore his class ring on a chain around their necks. He was a skilled hunter and fisherman and helped put food on the table. From time to time, he worked in his father’s siding business. When World War II began, he lied about his age and joined the navy at seventeen. He was, I think, a “man’s man,” always more comfortable in the company of men than in the company of women.

My birth may have been a disappointment to my father, my being a girl. I was also a lot like my mother, with whom he had little in common…imaginative, creative, a lover of art, poetry, and music, uncoordinated and not very good at sports. Still, he was proud of me, ambitious for me, and he was my hero!

My brother was born two years after me, and when I was four, my sister was born. While my mother was in the hospital, I remember Dad trying to make Shirley Temple-style curls in my hair one Sunday morning. I remember his consternation when the ends stuck out at the bottom. I must have been quite a sight going to church with my hair looking like that!

My father’s first assignment as a minister was to three little country churches in Pennsylvania. While Mom went home with my younger brother and sister after the first Sunday service, I always continued on with Dad to the second service. I listened to every sermon three times, never tiring of my dad’s wonderful stories. I remember standing beside the piano when I was five and singing my first solo.

Visiting my grandparents when I was four or five, we went to the swimming pool in Wheeling, West Virginia. My father asked me if I would like to dive with him. With my arms tight around his neck and holding my breath, we went off the high dive together. My father was my hero!

When I was seven, I started piano lessons, which continued for nine years, although I had little musical talent. Eventually, I played the piano and antique pump organ at church when no one else was available. I wasn’t very good! I sang in the choir for years, often performing solos and duets. When I was eleven or twelve, I would put my hair up in a French twist and go with my father to hymn sings at neighboring churches. With my hair up, I thought I looked older and hoped people might mistake me for Dad’s wife. Of course, that was pretty silly!

Mom persuaded Dad to include his daughters, as well as his son on his hunting and fishing expeditions. Though I didn’t shoot, I enjoyed going with my father and our dog, Lady, to hunt quail, and I was always the one to prepare them for cooking. When we went fishing, I was usually the one to clean the fish.

One day, Dad took my brother, sister, and me to fish for bluegills in a farm pond. I got my line hopelessly tangled. Trying to break the line by pulling against my foot, I embedded a fish hook deep in the calf of my leg. My father cut it out with his pocket knife. I was very brave. “You are lucky I just sharpened my knife!” my father said. I still have a little purple scar on my leg.

When I was in high school, hunters sometimes stayed at our house. They would get up at four in the morning to go deer hunting with my father. I also got up early and fixed them a hearty breakfast. I enjoyed listening to their hunting stories and fish tales.

Like his mother, my father was a talented gardener. His huge garden helped to feed our family. I remember Dad teaching me how to plant beans and pull weeds. We all shelled peas, snapped beans, and husked corn. In the early years, my mother canned, but when I was about six, we got a large freezer, and my parents kept it full of vegetables from the garden and fish and meat my father brought home. My father also raised beautiful flowers that my mother and I enjoyed making into arrangements for home and church.

My mother was an excellent cook and baker. Mom turned the abundance from the garden into delicious meals and baked pies, cookies, and cakes. Dad had been a cook aboard a ship when he was in the navy and was always reminding us that the best chefs are men! When it came to preparing deer steak or frying trout, Dad often did that job.

Always the athlete, Dad never played a sport he didn’t like…darts, bowling, ice skating, roller skating, skiing, hiking, swimming, college football…When I was in high school, he used to outshoot teenagers on the church basketball court. My father, brother, and I got our Red Cross lifeguard certifications together. They scored higher in the water test than I did, and I scored higher on the written exam! In his seventies, Dad was still skating with the church youth group.

The youth group activity I enjoyed most when I was young was hiking in Shenandoah National Park.We would pile into the back of an old hearse and head for the mountains. After the hike, we enjoyed burgers and hot dogs cooked over wood coals and we roasted marshmallows.

One day, without my parents’ knowledge, I wore my bathing suit under my clothes. Our group hiked to the top of South River Falls, a tall waterfall with a pool in the middle that was reported to be bottomless. Many people have died walking near the waterfalls in the park. Luckily, I didn’t die. I just climbed down through the middle of the falls and swam in the pool at the bottom. Oddly, I don’t remember being punished for that episode. Maybe Dad saw himself in me that day!

On another hike, I walked through a yellow jackets’ nest. Swatting the bees as I ran, I knocked my glasses off. Days later, my father returned to the trail and found my glasses. Remarkable! My Hero!

When I was in high school, my parents’s marriage, always a mismatch, began to steadily deteriorate. Life at home was often unpleasant because of the conflict between my parents. Also, I found the restrictions imposed by my parents unbearable.

I had a brief, but very unfortunate experience at a religious boarding school. The repressive and malevolent attitudes and the rampant hyprocricy at the school made me question religion. I became an atheist at age thirteen. Though I continued to participate in church activities for many years, I think my parents were aware that I no longer accepted their beliefs. Stubborn and independent, as both of my parents were, I obeyed them for the most part, but was pretty outspoken with them about my views.

My father was as frustrated as I was, I think. He had trouble seeing me grow up and was reluctant to relinquish control. When I was seventeen, he did several things to me that were very hurtful. I think he later regretted his actions, although he never said that he was sorry. He was much less controlling with my younger sister as she grew up.

After their children were grown, my parents went through a very messy divorce. Dad and I both made efforts to maintain a relationship until the day he died, but I could never fit his mold. I always loved my father, and he loved me, but, like Humpty Dumpty, our family could never be put together again.

My father died at age seventy-five in 2004. I have many treasured memories of my dad and a few memories it took me years to forgive. Fulfilling his wishes, family members sang some of his favorite hymns at his funeral in a little country church where he was the pastor. My father had “died with his boots on!”

To all the fathers everywhere, you will never be perfect. Don’t stress over it. All any of us can do is our best! We love you. We will always love you!

Blue Hole, where my family liked to swim and fish. Photo by Taber Andrew Bain CCBY2.0

My Father

Father,

human being,

excellent example

of many admirable skills:

great speaker and storyteller,

gardener, fisherman,

hunter, builder,

athlete!

Father,

good intentions

and high expectations.

He didn’t model compromise

or practice co-operation.

He focused on rules, not

relationships.

He tried.

Father,

childhood hero!

I was so proud of him,

and I know he was proud of me.

Though I could never fit his mold,

I always loved my dad,

and he loved me.

We tried.

South River Falls, Shenandoah National Park-Virginia, USA. Photo from Adobe Stock

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

❤ Happy Fathers Day! ❤

Mother

Photo by Priscilla Duprees from Unsplash

Mother

Mother

is proud of you

for every step you take,

picks you up every time you fall,

shows you how again and again,

and builds your confidence

to walk alone.

She’s proud!

Mother

hears your first word,

always listens to you,

wants for you what you want for yourself,

gives advice, knowing that someday

you will surely recall

what Mother said…

She hears!

Mother

sees potential

when those around you doubt,

has high hopes for you in tough times,

never, ever gives up on you,

even when you give up,

always loves you…

Always!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Happy Mothers Day!

This Sunday, May 9, 2021 is celebrated as Mothers Day in the US. Wherever you are, feel free to join in! Tell your mother you love and appreciate her. Spend time with her if you can. Call her, bring her flowers or candy, take her out to dinner…whatever is in your heart to do. If your mother is no longer alive, take a moment to remember her and all the good times you spent together.

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mothers Day!

Lots of love to you! ❤

Clouds

My Mom, Marian Nicholson, a Week Before Her 90th Birthday, Family Outing to Siesta Key Beach. Photo by Ellen Maher.


Clouds

Nearly ninety, Mom still liked to come

to Sunday dinner at our home.

After dinner, we’d watch an old movie,

Mom’s cat Kitzey stretched out by her knee.

Photo by Deric Yu from Unsplash

We’d call up relatives and have a chat

as she sat stroking her purring cat.

Our dog Clifford wanted petting, too…

That was something Mom was happy to do.

Photo by Shridhar Dixit.

Mom always enjoyed long country drives.

She would smile, her eyes coming alive,

watching egrets and cranes or horses and cows,

but most of all, she loved looking at clouds.

“Those clouds look like a fawn and a deer.

That one’s a man with a long white beard.”

Photo by Heyzeus Lozoya from Unsplash.

She never grew tired of seeing the sky of blue

and clouds with sunlight shining through.

I think she imagined Heaven to be in that space,

and she was going soon to that wonderful place.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she’d always say,

and knowing she was happy made my day.

Photo by wuttichai from Adobe Stock Photos

When we were kids, Mom shared the charms

of an idyllic childhood on her family’s farm.

Now the farmers’ market was our place to go

to buy carrots to feed the horses and goats.

Mom visited the peacocks, roosters and hens,

pigs in the barn and roosters in their pens.

We bought pumpkins and chrysanthemums,

horehound, lemon drops, and Teaberry gum,

but no trip to the market would be complete

without an ice cream cone for a treat.

So many flavors, Mom could always find

a flavor that was one of her favorite kinds.

Mom loved her family, and nearly every day,

we talked about family members far away.

One day I was visiting Mom; she was resting in bed.

“You’ve been a good daughter to me,” she said.

Chrysanthemums, Photo by Christopher Lotite from Unsplash.

Though home was now an independent living,

she was still my mom, still caring and giving.

For her, things were not how they used to be,

but she always took an interest in me,

Marian Nicholson on Her 90th Birthday. Photo by Cheryl Batavia


Copyright© 2019 by Cheryl Batavia Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places by Cheryl Batavia


My Mom, Marian Nicholson (1924-2015) always encouraged me in a love of nature, art, and poetry. At the age of forty-five she fulfilled a lifelong dream and graduated from nursing school. We were very proud of Mom. As she grew older, my sister and I increasingly looked out for her. The last thirteen years of her life, she lived near me and we did a lot of things together. This poem is about the last four years of Mom’s life, when she was in an independent living center suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a sad time, but it gave us both pleasure to spend a great deal of time together.

I celebrate Women’s History Month by posting this poem in honor of my mother.

Katey and the Great Texas Whiteout

My Daughter Katey During the Great Texas Whiteout

Katey and the Great Texas Whiteout

Florida was home.

Katey had not played in the snow

since leaving Russia.

Katey moved this year.

Texas snowfall surprised her…

First snow since age four!

Whiteout in Texas…

power off, roads hazardous.

Katey shoveled snow.

Historic blizzards…tragic.

Playing in snow…Katey’s joy!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Photos by Ellen and Katey


Texas is experiencing unheard-of back-to-back blizzards and below-zero temperatures. This may be one of many examples of extreme weather events due to global warming. Increasing frequency and severity of hurricanes and wildfires, craters forming in Russia’s Tundra, and melting polar ice are some other possible examples.

Texas is not well-prepared for blizzards. Items such as Snowplows and snow tires are in short supply. The low temperatures are overtaxing the power grid and causing power outages. Some people’s water pipes have burst. A few areas have orders to boil water. Many people are stuck at home with a dwindling supply of food and without heat. I am grateful that my daughters and their household have experienced only a very brief power outage.

My Daughters, Katey and Ellen
Rez Plays with Katey’s Snow Angel
Don’t Do It, Ellen!
Yay. Snow!

Lounging Around

Photo by olia-danlevi from Pexels

Lounging Around

Stretched out on green grass,

finding pictures in the clouds

and four-leaf clovers.

Supine in the snow,

arms and legs stretching outward.

Sculpting snow angels.

Photo by Vlad from Pexels

Sprawling on the rug,

playing with a new puppy.

Wiggles and wet kisses.

Lounging on the beach…

eating ice cream, feeding gulls,

talking, holding hands.

Photo by tima-moroshi from Pexels

Sleeping warm in bed,

snuggled under the covers,

alarm set for six.

Lolling on the couch,

old movies, buttered popcorn.

Relaxation mode.

Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels

Soaking in the tub,

warm bubble bath, soft music.

Children fast asleep.

Bedded in a tent,

cricket songs and coyotes.

Camping with the kids.

Photo by patrick-hendry from Unsplash

Dozing in a hammock,

taking an overdue nap.

Smell of fresh-cut grass.

Loafing on the chaise,

watching grandchildren playing.

Iced tea with lemon.

Photo by Barbara Webb from Pexels

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Pajama Days

Photo by Gail Adams Arnold from Unsplash

Pajama Days

Cozy pajamas,

no neckties and no high heels…

My laptop and me.

Photo by Anastasia Sharev from Pexels

Comfy in loungewear,

feet up, hair down, my music…

Me and my laptop.

Photo by Ketut Subiyant from Pexels

Rocking baggy sweats,

snacktime on the balcony…

My smartphone and me.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso from Unsplash

Working, learning remotely,

blogging, creativity.

Photo by Tima Miroshn from Pexels

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


As the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, families who have been working and learning remotely may be returning to school and to the workplace. Though most are eager to return to normalcy, many will have moments of nostalgia over “pajama days.” Fido will miss them.

Photo by X1RQ3b from Unsplash

Christmas Eve at Our House

Christmas Eve at Our House

Cozy Christmas Eve,

phone visits with family,

walks in the sunshine.

Red Virginia Creeper provides Seasonal Color for our Back Yard
Woods View from Christmas Eve Walk
Table Set for Christmas Eve, Centerpiece Created with Foliage from our Yard

Rustic centerpiece,

classic steak, baked potato,

just the two of us.

Our Christmas Tree Plays “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

Yuletide carols play.

“We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Stockings are hung with care.


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, Photo by Katey Batavia

Barney, the Purple Dinosaur

In October, from Russia, Katey and Joe,

came to Florida twenty-five years ago.

Friends and relatives sent gifts of welcome.

Hanukkah and Christmas gifts filled our home!

That January, when Katey turned five,

we agreed that a book was the best gift to give.

On Katey’s birthday, when Papa came home,

the birthday plans all came undone!

When Papa came in, Katey was overjoyed.

Between Papa’s feet was a Barney toy.

From the wheelchair, Barney saw his new place.

A gigantic grin spread over Papa’s face.

Katey kissed Barney’s purple cheek,

and the talking dinosaur began to speak.

In his goofy voice, Barney said, “I love you.”

It was unmistakable, Katey loved him too!

We lost Papa six years later in January,

weeks before Katey’s eleventh birthday.

Barney lived with Katey for twenty-three years.

His demise last year left Katey in tears.

This year, I found on Amazon,

Katey’s Christmas present, a Barney clone!

Barney now lives in Texas, where he’ll say,

“I love you,” to Katey every day.

Katey Batavia and Barney, Photo by Katey Batavia

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


My late husband, Drew, and I adopted Katey and Joe from Russia in October, 1995. We lived in Miami Beach, and Drew, AKA “Papa,” was a very devoted father until his death in January, 2003. Katey now lives near Dallas, Texas with her older sister Ellen, a cat, a dog, and two other roommates. The new Barney, the Purple Dinosaur, just joined the household.

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

Santa by Tima Miroshni from Pexels

How Do You Spell Merry Christmas?

(Acrostic)

Manger scenes telling the Christmas Story

Exchanging gifts with friends and family

Relatives and friends visiting

Remembering to hang your stocking

Yummy food in December

Christmas Pageants with lines to remember

Hanging mistletoe up high

Reindeer flying across the sky

Invitations to parties and balls

Singing Yuletide carols

Trees we decorate

Making cookies and cakes

Advent wreaths with candles

Santa and his elves

Christmas Eve, Photo by Vicki Yde from Unsplash

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


The acrostic is an old fashioned staple of school and Sunday school programs. Each child holds up a letter and recites his “piece.” The letters often spell MOTHER for Mothers Day, HAPPY THANKSGIVING or MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Christmas Wreath, photo by Cheryl Batavia

Merry Christmas!