I Remember Rainbows

Photo by Harry Quan from Unsplash.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all

Emily Dickinson

Many people are wondering whether it is too late to restore the environment to health. I don’t know the answer, but I HOPE that it is not too late! The poem below is the last of my three environment-themed Halloween Sonnets.


I Remember Rainbows

I live today on earth, a shabby place,

in dreary post-apocalyptic haze,

but I remember glowing rainbow hues,

and sunny skies above, quite clear and blue,

and even if my skies are grey today,

lush rainbow colors flood my dreams always!

No fish are swimming in polluted streams;

in dreams, clear rivers flow to shining seas.

No birds are singing in the leafless trees,

but dream-birds nest in trees of verdant green!

Though even weeds can’t bloom in sterile clay,

I dream of vivid flowers every day

where dream-bees feed in joyous, playful scenes,

and I remember rainbows in my dreams.

Photo by Angelo Casto from Unsplash.
Photo by Nuno Antunos from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Alone in a Lost World

Burned-out boat on display at Bombay Beach, a ghost town by the Salton Sea in California. The Salton Sea is a dead body of water that is slowly drying up, and the town is now a sort of art museum. Photo by Design Class on Unsplash.

Alone in a Lost World

Bright rainbow hues have faded now away;

I waken in a world of cheerless grey.

Accursed, I walk beside a stinking sea

where once the dolphins came to swim with me.

From heights I view the valley that was home,

a city veiled in haze, a silent tomb.

Bereft at night beneath a blackened sky,

I seek in vain the twinkling stars on high.

No plea restores the music of the night;

the crickets sing no more! I curse my plight

and long for kindred souls to share my days.

I pray to rise on wings and fly away.

Beloved spirits smile and beckon me

to Heaven in the world that used to be.

Photo by Dottie Maybry from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Halloween Sonnet Festival

Ingrid’s Halloween Sonnet Festival inspired me to learn to write sonnets. Few things scare me more than the impending doom of global warming, climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and pollution. We need to change our ways NOW if we hope to prevent the ubiquitous doomsday predictions from coming true.

Check out the Halloween Sonnet Festival on Ingrid’s blog, experimentsinfiction.com!

Americans Move West

I. Timeline: 1783-1869

II. Poems of the Westward Migration

III. My Favorite Classic Westerns

A Vintage Conestoga wagon with a water barrel on the side. Photo by Larry Costales from Unsplash.

Map of US Territorial Growth. Photo from flickr.

Timeline: 1783-1869

1783

The Thirteen Colonies won their independence from England. The United States of America at this time consisted of thirteen states which extended to the Mississippi River on the west. Territories to the south and west were controlled by Spain, France, and Russia. Canadian borders were being established to the north. Of course, Native Americans already lived in the Americas when Europeans arrived, a fact Europeans often chose to ignore.

Mountain men were fur traders and trappers who explored the American West. They lived among the Native Americans, learned tribal languages, and often married Native American wives.

1803

The Louisiana Purchase. The US bought the Louisiana Territory from France. President Thomas Jefferson sent the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the West. Their journals recorded the topography, Native American tribes they visited, and plants and animals they found.

Sacagawea, a sixteen-year-old Native American guide and translator, joined the expedition with her French Canadian explorer husband and infant son. She was invaluable to the expedition, and in 1794, a one dollar coin was first minted in her honor. On the coin is an image of Sacagawea carrying her baby on her back.

1803-1841

The Western Expansion. Settlers moved to land West of the Mississippi River, traveling on foot, on horseback, and by canoes, river rafts, and Conestoga wagons.

The US continued to purchase territories. A doctrine called “Manifest Destiny” stated that it was ordained by God that the US should occupy all the land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Native Americans resisted the takeover of their land. There were many conflicts and wars between the Settlers, US soldiers, and the Native Americans. US soldiers manned numerous forts along the trail to protect the wagon trains and the settlers who now lived on the Great Plains.

1841-1869

The Great Migration. During this time, 350,000 settlers traveled to California and the Oregon Territories. Steam-powered riverboats and eventually stage coaches became available. Telegraph lines soon linked East and West. The US now stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Many new states had been admitted to the Union as settlers moved west, some where slavery was legal, and some where slavery was illegal. This was a tumultuous time in American history which culminated in a bloody civil war.

1849

Gold was discovered in California, and the California Gold Rush began. “Forty-niners” went to California in search of gold. A few of them did “strike it rich.” Many more did not.

Towns sprang up where gold and silver were discovered. When the mines played out, the towns were abandoned. Ghost Towns still exist in the American West.

1861-1865

The American Civil War was fought between the Union (Northern States) and the Confederacy (Southern States.) It was a devastating and bloody conflict that centered around issues of slavery.

1869

The First Transcontinental Railroad was completed, joining East and West. This marked the end of the Era known as the Great Migration.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Poems of the Westward Migration

A creek in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Michael Hirsch on Unsplash.

Mountain Men

Mountain men roamed the wilderness

and lived among the tribes,

learning tribal languages

and taking native wives.

They knew the animals and seasons

and walked the forest ways,

trapping beaver along the rivers

in long, solitary days.

Gentlemen in London and Paris

wanted to make the right impression.

American beavers died for the sake

of fashion’s beaver hat obsession.

Mountain men gathered

when the season was through

to trade their furs and celebrate

their yearly Rendezvous.

Black Foot, Standing Bear, and Big Eagle, three members of the Sioux tribe. A Sioux village with tipis, 1898 photo from the Boston Public Library on Unsplash.

Native Americans

Native Americans, on many occasions,

helped European settlers survive,

but goodwill soon evaporated

when the multitudes arrived.

An endless stream of intruders

settled on ancestral lands.

Smallpox and measles took a toll.

Others died by White men’s hands.

Native Americans were pushed

further westward for years and years.

Their lands were seized, and they were

forced to walk the “Trail of Tears.”

Treaties dishonored, promises broken.

Natives were confined to reservations.

Their children were sent to far-off schools

for White man’s education.

Modern-day campers and a replica Conestoga wagon. Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash.

Wagon Trains Go West

Carrying the settlers’ worldly goods,

Conestoga wagons crossed the plains.

For protection against Native American

attacks, they traveled in wagon trains.

A wagon master led the wagon train

and guided settlers on their way.

He knew where to ford the rivers and

where to camp at the end of the day.

Many settlers walked along the trail

to spare the oxen and lighten the load.

At night they circled the wagons and

cooked their suppers beside the road.

Babies were born along the trail.

Settlers played music and danced.

Couples were married on the journey

after a wagon train romance.

Dreams were big, and hopes were high,

but there were hardships every day.

The trail was littered with broken wagons,

and graves were left along the way.

Vintage steam engine. Narrow gauge railroad. Photo by Adrienne Merritt on Unsplash.

The Great Migration

The US army manned a series of forts

to defend the wagon trains and

protect the settlements springing up

across the western plains.

Gold was discovered in California.

Settlers traveled the Oregon Trail.

Stage coaches soon headed west,

carrying passengers and mail.

New states were joining the Union,

some slave, and some free.

It was a dark and turbulent era

in American History.

Five years of civil war

brought widespread devastation.

The Transcontinental Railroad

ended the era of Great Migration.

There has always been a special bond between a cowboy and his horse. Photo by Rodnae Productions on Pexels.



Cowboy Life

Cowboys riding the open range

under a wide blue sky,

we keep an eye out for rustlers,

loaded guns by our sides.

Many more miles to ride,

many new calves to brand.

We sit around the campfire,

eating beans from a can.

Singing sad songs, swapping

tall tales, just hanging around.

We unpack our bedrolls

and fall asleep on the ground.

Morning comes early. Drink your

coffee and saddle your horse.

Looks like good weather today…

I’ve seen a whole lot worse!

New horses to be broken

out in the corral.

Getting ready for round-up

and a big cattle drive in the fall.

Cookie’s got provisions.

The chuck wagon’s ready to go.

Our last night in the bunkhouse…

Telling jokes and playing dominoes.

This cattle drive is endless,

riding hard and swallowing dust,

eating biscuits and gravy

until we’re ready to bust!

Tomorrow, we’ll drive the herd

to town, and head for the saloon.

We’ll play some cards, drink some

beer, and listen to some tunes.

A modern-day riverboat on the Mississippi River near New Orleans. Photo by Bernard Sprague from flickr.

Scoundrels of the Old West

Scoundrels were irresistibly drawn

to the riches of the West.

Card sharks prowled the riverboats,

putting amatures to the test.

Traveling medicine shows

sold worthless potions and elixers

to an unsuspecting populace.

What a shameless bunch of tricksters!

Claim jumpers lurked in the gold fields

to seize somebody else’s claim.

Crooks in preacher’s collars robbed

congregations in God’s name.

A few crooked agents on reservations

sold cattle the government sent,

growing rich on the profits, while native

families ate the bread of discontent.

Unscrupulous prostitutes robbed

customers who fell into their hands.

Rustlers stole cattle on the range,

altering the original brands.

And then there were armed outlaws

committing robberies with guns,

holding up stages, trains, and banks,

living their lives on the run.

Vintage western schoolhouse/church. Photo by Dan Myers from Unsplash.

Old West Towns

Any self-respecting town

had a saloon with a piano player,

hotel, general store,

jail, and undertaker.

A livery stable and a blacksmith

were absolute musts!

Every town needed a doctor

and a banker they could trust.

Most towns had a one-room school

with a schoolmarm to teach

reading, writing, and arithmetic…

and a circuit rider to preach.

Kids learned the ten commandments

and the Golden Rule.

Frontier towns didn’t want to raise

a generation of lawless fools!

Some towns had a seamstress,

Chinese laundry, barber, and baker,

railroad station, telegraph office,

and town newspaper.

Add to these a brothel

to spread a little joy

among all the lonely sinners,

miners, and cowboys.

Ghost town. Photo by Kevin Wheeler on Unsplash.

Ghost Towns

Western towns sprang up like mushrooms

near gold and silver mines, and

when the mines played out,

mining towns fell on hard times.

Out in the desert you can visit ghost towns

and think of days gone by.

Hear eerie music, see shadowy ghosts…

At least, it’s fun to try!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


My Favorite Classic Westerns

Into the West, a six-part series from executive producer, Steven Spielberg. Available on YouTube.

Two families, one Native American and the other White, live through the events of the American westward movement.

Little House on the Prairie, TV series based on the Little House series of books by Laura Ingals Wilder. Story of a family growing up on a farm near a small prairie town.

Michael Landon, Mellissa Gilbert, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson.

Bonanza, TV Series. A rancher and his sons are involved in many issues of the day.

Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker.

Oklahoma, a movie musical about a girl coming of age on an Oklahoma farm.

Shirley Jones, Gordon McRae.

Paint Your Wagon, a movie musical comedy set in a Gold Rush mining town. A Mormon woman marries two men.

Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Jean Seberg.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a hilarious movie musical with critically-acclaimed dance sequences.

Howard Keel, Jane Powell.

Jeremiah Johnson, a movie that tells the story of a mountain man and his encounters with grizzly bears.

Robert Redford, Will Geer.

Dances with Wolves, a movie about a Civil War hero who is eager to see the old West and is assigned to a fort. Arriving at an abandoned fort, he gets to know a local tribe of Native Americans. He spends time in their camp, going on a buffalo hunt and falling in love with a white woman who lives with them.

Directed by and starring Kevin Costner.

River of No Return, a movie about danger, romance, and redemption on a river raft headed west.

Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe.

Sarah Plain and Tall, movie. A mail order bride from New England becomes part of a farm family in the West.

Glenn Close, Christopher Walken.

McClintock, a hilarious western comedy movie reminiscent of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara.


Westerns on this List

The majority of the westerns on this list were chosen for authenticity. They allow the viewer to experience the American westward movement and life on the American frontier. Many of the westerns listed feature iconic actors and gorgeous western scenery.

Excellent documentaries about the old West have been made. Though they are not listed here, I like watching them.

The classic westerns listed are widely available on television, cable movie channels, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and similar venues.

I hope you find something you enjoy!


For further information, try Wikipedia, a helpful source of information used for this post.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Little Creatures

Photo of a slug by Timothy Meinberg from Unsplash.

Little Creatures

A slug is a lowly creature

traversing diverse terrains.

A body of solid muscle,

he makes smooth and steady gains.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar. Photo by Lasclay from Unsplash.
Monarch butterfly. Photo by Gary Bendig from Unsplash.

Butterfly, a patient creature,

is chewing leaves as time crawls by.

Cocooned in sleep, she dreams and waits

for glory days when she will fly!

Honeybees on honeycomb. Red dot marks queen. Photo by Cool Calm Design from Unsplash.

Honeybees are social creatures.

Exchanging messages, they dance,

sharing locations of flowers…

Honey bees leave nothing to chance!

Photo of an ant by Peter F. Wolf from Unsplash.

Ants are industrious creatures…

Mighty for their minuscule size.

Co-operation builds communities…

Working together is so civilized!

Turtle and fireflies. Photo by Brittney from Unsplash.

Fireflies are delightful creatures,

illuminating the dark.

Unassuming in the daylight,

as nightlights, fireflies make their mark!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Insomnia

Photo by Alexandra Gorn from Unsplash.

Insomnia

Not sleepy…TV movie…

Can’t believe its a series!

One more episode…

Tossing and turning.

Nearly two in the morning…

eggs at the diner.

Sleepless? Walk with me

under the glittering stars,

silver crescent moon.

Wakeful at four AM…

Early morning impulses…

In the mood for love.

Can’t sleep…word-obsessed.

Poem marching through my brain…

Get up and write!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Oblivion Can Wait

Male cardinal. Photo by Joshua Cotten from Unsplash
Purple Ruellas. Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Oblivion Can Wait

Wakeful

in the dim light

and stillness of morning,

I lie beside you, listening

to your breathing, holding your hand.

You turn over and sleep.

Warm and drowsy,

I doze.

I dream

you take my hand,

and together we rise

toward peaceful oblivion…

I waken suddenly…Not today!

Today, cardinals sing

their cheery songs

outside.

Today,

the grass is green.

In anticipation

of sunrise, ruellas open,

glowing purple in golden light.

Today belongs to us.

Oblivion

can wait.

Today,

the sun comes up.

I drink my tea and write.

You are sleeping, but when you wake,

we will spend the day together.

Today belongs to us.

Oblivion

can wait.

Purple Ruellas. Photo by Cheryl Batavia

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


We are in a holding pattern at our house. Robert’s cataract surgery has been postponed because of an infection in a root canal. The infection, which didn’t show up in dental x-rays, was finally discovered with a 3-D scan. After the root canal is redone, antibiotics, and no infection for several weeks, cataract surgery can be rescheduled. Thank you for understanding if I am a little erratic on WordPress for a while.

Hometown Parade

Classic Car, California. Photo by Neon Brand from Unsplash

Hometown Parade

I’d like to stand again on a tree-lined street

on a sunny summer day

in nineteen fifty-six. My joy would be complete

when the high school band begins to play.

The majorettes in their tasseled boots,

little short skirts, and ponytailed hair

march and twirl amid claps and whoops

and toss their batons in the air.

Marching Band, Canada. Photo by Vladistav Vasnets from Pexels.

The high school band marches along,

all spiffy uniforms and shiny brass,

playing a medly of marching songs.

The crowd applauds them as they pass.

Little kids march in place,

imitating the high school stars,

as mostly harmonious notes fade away,

we see big-finned convertible cars.

Classic Convertible. Photo by Rodnae Producti from Pexels

Chariots of small-town beauty queens

seated atop their mobile thrones,

regal in reds and blues and greens,

rhinestone tiaras and strapless gowns.

Girl in a Ballgown. Photo by Becerra Govea from Pexels

Poofey skirts spread like shimmering clouds,

queens smile ruby-lipped smiles and wave their hands

at the whistling, cheering crowds.

Then comes the mayor, his car equally grand.

Veterans of Korea and World War Two,

in uniforms of army, navy, and marines,

march behind the red, white, and blue.

Faded dreams of glory, memories of battle scenes.

The children in town are invited

to walk in the parade with their pets.

Children come down the street excited,

dogs wearing ribbons around their necks.

Farm wagon floats are dandy,

transformed by crepe paper festoons.

Business floats are throwing candy.

Church choirs sing patriotic tunes.

Jonah sits near a crepe paper whale,

a Forest Service float features Smokey Bear,

4-H kids perch on hay bales,

Historical tableaux are everywhere.

Vintage Fire Truck. Photo from Pixabay

Shriners maneuver tiny cars around.

Arabian horses prance in fancy gear.

Volunteer firemen are the heroes of our town…

At last we hear a siren. The fire truck is here!

I’d like to listen again to a high school band

on a sunny summer day

with a cold, five-cent Coke in my hand.

Reliving nineteen fifty-six, I’d pass the time away!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

I Would Be Angry, but…


Old Chinese proverb: “Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”

A traditional oil lamp, Photo by Prateek Gautam from Unsplash.

I Would Be Angry, but…

I would be angry, but…

those who are disagreeable

are acting out of their own frustrations

and unfortunate situations.

I would be angry, but

those who provide poor service

are acting out of their own incompetence

and may be doing their best.

I would be angry, but

those who execute unfair policies

are following orders from above

and live in fear of losing their jobs.

I would be angry, but

those who impose their beliefs on others

are misguided and unenlightened,

limited by their narrow view of the world.

I would be angry, but

those who take unfair advantage of others

are acting out of their own moral poverty,

likely to be hated and feared by others.

I would be angry, but

I myself am far from perfect.

I make mistakes that may anger others.

I too, am in need of understanding.

I would be angry, but

anger clouds my judgement,

diverts my attention and energy…

Better to calmly take considered action.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Fragrances & Flavors of Our Lives

Sea Salt, Elton, Russia. Photo by Pavel Neznanov on Unsplash.

Fragrances & Flavors of Our Lives

Flavors shape cultural identity

and turn the tides of history.

The Roman Empire, in its day,

issued salt as part of army pay.

Explorers in antiquity learned to subsist

on salted meat and salted fish.

Gandhi led a peaceful march to the sea

to evaporate seawater and set India free.

Indian Spices. Photo by Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash

The Silk Road brought spices to Europe.

Christopher Columbus sailed in the hope

of finding a safer route to “The Indies”

to trade for pepper and other delicacies.

He was funded by Queen Isabella of Spain,

who did not sell her jewels in vain.

In the “New World,” where Columbus landed,

grew tobacco and cocoa, soon in demand.

Vineyard, Germany. Photo by Marcus Winkler on Unsplash

Tobacco, wine, peyote… ceremonial provisions

used to negotiate peace and summon visions.

Coca leaves chewed for energy,

opium dreams to enhance creativity…

addictions to subjugate humanity.

Medicines to relieve pain and to restore health…

violence, illegal trade, and ill-gotten wealth.

Nature’s gifts come from Mother Earth.

How they are used determines their worth.

Traditional Chinese medicine. Photo by Marion Botella on Unsplash

“Let food be thy medicine!” declared Hippocrates.

Since ancient times, food has fought disease.

Ginger and turmeric season our food,

ease pain and dyspepsia and thin blood.

Garlic, a worldwide perennial favorite,

has a multitude of health benefits.

Chilli peppers soothe pain and add heat to curries,

savory stir fries, and Texas chilli.

Sassafras is a tonic that flavors root beer, teas,

and file gumbo, pride of New Orleans.

Hakuna Matada Spice Farm, Dole Zanzibar. Photo by Daniel DeNadai on Unsplash

Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and cardamon,

cozy flavors that remind us of home.

Home-cooked sweet memories,

a flavorful shield against disease:

Cilantro, rosemary, mint, and dill,

tarragon, oregano, and fennel,

basil, anise, lemon grass, and more…

These are a few of the herbs we adore.

Traditional Chinese medicine, herbal tea, Australia. Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Herbs and flowers smell enticingly sweet

and exquisitely flavor the foods we eat.

It is said that Cleopatra, legendary beauty,

favored fragrances made from patchouli.

Rose and jasmine fragrances, jasmine tea.

Orange blossom perfume, orange blossom honey.

Candied violets decorate fancy cakes.

Natstutiums in salad impart spicy taste.

Cotswold Lavender, UK. Photo by David Stratton on Unsplash

Scents and flavors bring to mind

life experiences of every kind…

The people we’ve known, the places we’ve been,

culinary travels to lands unseen.

Condiments and their role in history.

Glimpses into the mysteries.

Teasing the palate, inspiring creativity…

All thanks to Mother Nature’s generosity.

Delicious spices at a market, Turkey. Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

To my fellow bloggers,

I continue fighting very slow, unresponsive emails even after updating my computer with Apple, and still need to check out the problem with our internet provider as well as WordPress. Our TV reception, on the same system, is also having problems. I am reading a few emails when I can between doctor and dentist appointments. Also, I am now the designated driver for both of us. I look forward to being back full-time on WordPress soon after Robert’s cataract surgery is completed in September. I hope life is treating you well.

All the best! ❤ Cheryl