Best of Member Monday #5: The Wonders of the Lost Coast by Jen Higley

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #5 slot is a piece by Writers Forum Membership Director Jen Higley.

The Wonders of the Lost Coast

by Jen Higley

View from Kinsey Ridge TrailSummer in northern California marks the beginning of travel season for many, and few places are more refreshing than the coast.  Cool breezes, frequent moisture and lush green growth are just a few of the things that make the coast the opposite of the rest of California in summertime.  But for those craving adventure this summer, you needn’t look further than the Lost Coast in the King Range Wilderness.

The Lost Coast is a beach-loving camper’s paradise, with campsites for those in motor vehicles, on horse-back, or those adventure lovers who strap all their supplies on their backs and set out for those patches of coastline accessible only on foot.  Hike along the beach, watch seals play in the surf, set up your tent with a view of the ocean and listen to its tales all through the night.

Idyllic as it is, the importance of having a travel plan must not be understated.  There are a few things to keep in mind when on the trail to coastal camping bliss.

The Lost Coast Trail moves to and away from the beach at appropriate intervals, for the safety of hikers.  Enjoy the soothing sound of the powerful Pacific when hiking on the beach as you push through deep, silky soft sand with only everything you need to survive four days in the wilderness to weigh you down.  You’ll have plenty of time to absorb that marvelous maritime air when traversing miles of sand moving a foot and a half per step.  Plenty of time.

Moving inland, you get the beautiful ocean view from a shore bird’s perspective, as parts of the trail climb quite high with no obstacles such as railings, stout shrubs or anything else you could hold on to blocking your view.  And while you’re up there, with those magnificent shore breezes, take care to lean in to the hillside being traversed, as only the ocean and its accompanying sharp rocks and rip-tide would be there to stop a stumble.

There is no shortage of wildlife on the Lost Coast.  You will be living for a time in that mystical habitat where ocean life meets terrestrial, the sea lions and otters sharing the beach with bobcats, coyotes and bear alike.  While one must take care to watch out for potentially harmful wildlife when camping miles from the nearest town and well out of wireless range, most campers are spared unpleasant animal encounters by taking simple precautions, such as storing their food in bear-safe canisters and not stepping on the rattlesnakes.  The bother of insects is reduced by the exfoliating winds, but you’d be prudent to check your gear and body for ticks at the end of each day.  If you take along a faithful canine companion, check him also, as full-body fur can harbor a few dozen more ticks than you’d think.

Plant life along the Lost Coast is a sight to behold for botanists and common flora enthusiasts alike.  In early summer, you’ll pass wildflowers, century plants, and herbs such as mint, all equally obscured by the vast swatches of poison oak.  Trailhead signs encourage hikers to learn to recognize and avoid poison oak, but if you fail to dodge the fresh, oily growth that narrows the path to four inches wide in places, just rinse any exposed and most certainly contaminated skin at one of the many creeks and streams along the trail—and pray.

Weather on the Lost Coast can be breathtakingly perfect.  However, in a climate known to accumulate 200 or more inches of rain in a year, it is not uncommon for a hiker to experience some moisture.  Take care to pack your sleeping gear in water safe bags, as this will help you avoid a night of obligatory insomnia to stave off hypothermia.  Another reason to protect your gear from moisture is the grand ocean itself.  Some sections of this twenty-five mile trail are impassible at high tides, so one must carry a map and plan the day’s hiking accordingly.  At times, a hiker will neglect to consult a tide chart and be quite surprised when a pristine wave suddenly bashes her against the rocks, which is particularly distressing when there is no possible way to leave the beach for a mile or two in either direction.  Should you find yourself in such a predicament, you can hike to the safety of the nearest creek drainage, or perch on any high rocks in the area while waiting for the tide to recede, as it always does eventually.

As I’m sure I have conveyed, backpacking on the Lost Coast is a unique and amazing experience for the novice and seasoned backpacker alike, and can be enchanting fun for the whole family.  Knowing your route and packing conscientiously are the keys to a safe and grand adventure in this wilderness like no other.  On a personal note, I have never returned from the Lost Coast without longing to return.  It’s true.

Best of Member Monday #6: Babies in the Park by Maggi Milton

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #6 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Maggi Milton.

Babies in the Park

by Maggi Milton

That day I took my customary seat on the bench farthest from the fountain but still within the central square.  I don’t know how long I was engrossed in my crossword puzzle – 10, 20 minutes at least, the sandwich I brought from home long gone, the taste of honey mustard but a memory – when I realized I was hearing babies.  At first they just babbled back and forth. I tried to ignore the noise but you know how that goes. Once I noticed the sounds I was not able not to hear them.
Frustrated, I became more and more annoyed at the interruption of my quiet and solitude.  I began to pack up in disgust when I realized the babble was no longer babble but had somehow switched into English. I actually heard one of them say, “…wish she would stop jiggling my seat. It’s enough to make me scream but if I do scream, she gets all upset and picks me up and burps me. I mean, give me a break!  Burping is NOT a cure-all.  It’s okay after I drink a bottle and the milk just kinda sits there, you know what I mean?  A burp is always helpful to spit out the bubble and clear my throat. It’s very satisfying when I can aim beyond the nappy and hit her blouse. But what is it with this jiggling?”
I was incredulous. What I was hearing was unbelievable, and I looked to my left to find the source of this voice. Two prams sat side by side in front of two nannies who had their heads together, conversing in what sounded like Spanish. Inside each pram sat a baby dressed in pink, obviously both girls, both wide awake and looking towards each other. One had blond hair, the other brown. The nannies jiggled the prams with their foot while absorbed with their own exchange.
The brown headed said “I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes my head spins from all the motion. I’ve tried to shove her foot away, but my arms are too short to reach all the way. She just thinks I’ve lost my balance and am falling out of this contraption, so the jiggling only stops long enough for her to push me back upright.”
Blondie nodded knowingly. “What do you think of this idea?” She said. “The next time they put us on the ground we crawl over to the prams and set the brakes so all motion is stopped? Or, better yet, maybe we cou…  Whoa… There’s a woman over to the right eaves-dropping”
Two sets of eyes swiveled my way. I felt like the rabbit caught in the headlights; all I could do was gape at them. The two sets of eyes turned back towards each other. Two mouths opened wide and from them erupted high-pitched screams like I had never heard before.
The startled nannies vaulted from their seats, snatched the screeching babies from the prams, and clutched them to their shoulders.  With quick good-byes, they grabbed the handles of the prams and hustled down the path.
Quiet descended as the screaming stopped. Two sets of eyes gazed over the nannies’ shoulders; two babies’ faces smirked at me as they disappeared around the fountain.

 

Best of Member Monday #7: Cut the Cake by Deborah Gilson

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Taking the #7 slot is a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Cut the Cake

by Deborah Gilson

It was my fifth birthday. Mom headed to work in the city after dropping Ross, my four-year-old brother, and me off at nursery school. From the instant I awoke, I waited for the day to end. At nursery school I told Crystal, the most beautiful little girl ever, I had a cake coming that night after dinner.

The magic moment arrived for my mother to pick Ross and me up from nursery school. On the front passenger seat of our red Volvo station wagon, I saw my cake box. I asked Mom if she could drive home a little faster. Looking at me from her rear view mirror, she said she would try.

Ross pulled a funny trick on the way home and began making siren noises while we crouched on the floorboard of the back seat. Ross told her she was speeding and would probably get a ticket. Mom pulled the car over to the side of the road and waited. When no police car appeared, she heard our muffled giggles. Reaching her 12-foot-long arm into the back seat, Mom could not grab either of us. Exhausted from another day’s work as a single mother, she slowly put the pedal to the metal and continued the drive home.

Standing in our tiny kitchen, my mother asked me, the birthday girl, what I wanted for dinner. With tremendous excitement, I declared, “Dinner shot out of a cannon!” This meant breakfast-style food for dinner, the fastest meal in town.

After dinner, Ross and I cleared the dishes from the kitchen table; my grand event finally arrived. Out of the box came an elegant, small lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. The edges were lined in pink and yellow rosettes. My mother intentionally handed me a spatula, instead of a knife, and said I could cut the cake. My mother began washing the dishes; thankfully, her back was turned away from Ross and me.

With Ross standing as close as possible, I held up the spatula as a sword for his big blue eyes to see, translating my deafening non-verbal message, “Don’t you even think about coming near my cake!” Without saying a word, my mother sensed my selfish and greedy demeanor, so she interjected over her shoulder, “And Ross gets to choose the first piece.” With disbelief and even bigger blue eyes, I screamed, “WWWHHHAAATTT???!!!”

Grabbing my cake from the kitchen table, I gingerly placed it on the kitchen floor. So I would be eye-level with it, I laid down flat on the floor to get a bird’s eye view for the precise cut. Ross laid down next to me, resting his chin on his folded hands. I measured where to cut the cake into pieces so Ross would not have even one granule more. Finally, I felt secure knowing I cut the cake into equal portions. Using the spatula as a serving tool as well as a knife, I gently put a piece of cake onto my plate and walked to the kitchen table with my mouth watering. Again, my mother knew inappropriate behavior took place and told me to hand my piece of cake to Ross.  Tears began to well up by now; I was positive I would have no birthday cake.

Being me has never been easy, however, it is the memories of how I treated my younger brother while growing up, which are difficult to swallow. With Ross no longer living, I think about my birthday night and wish I had done things differently. I long to go back to the evening of April 2, 1965. If this were possible, I would hand the spatula to Ross and say, “It’s my birthday and I want you to cut the cake.”

Debbie & Ross, 1965 PDF Photo.pdf

Best of Member Monday #8: I Think I Could Be a Poem by Linda Boyden

A Note from the Webmaster: It’s summertime, the glorious season of swimming, sunblock and sinking your teeth into a fat stack of books.  Alas, it’s also the sad season when Writers Forum goes dark for two months.  Never fear, dear reader, because for the next eight Mondays, Writers Forum will be featuring the Best of Member Monday.  The top eight Member Monday pieces were determined by the number of views each piece received on our website.  We’ll count them down beginning from #8 and ending with our #1 most viewed piece of the 2013-2014 Writers Forum year.  Congratulations to the top eight!  Kicking things off in the #8 slot is a poem by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.

I Think I Could Be A Poem

By Linda Boyden ©2014

I think I could be a poem.
Nothing fancy
no sestina
no villanelle
no form to
slow
my flow.
I can
keep the
beat rock
the rhyme
in time
in style
make you
smile.
Lick my
words
take your time
savor
the flavor
each bite
holds
guaranteed to
curl your toes.
Yes, all things considered
I could be a poem.

Member Monday: Katy’s Spirits by Deborah Gilson

Welcome back to Member Monday!  Today we feature a piece by Writers Forum member Deborah Gilson.

Katy’s Spirits

by Deborah Gilson

I’d been busting ghosts since I was a young girl, knowing they meant no harm. They were either unaware they’d died or felt they still belonged on planet Earth. Often when someone dies suddenly as in an accident, their spirit guides aren’t there to take them home because the death happened too suddenly for the guides to be alerted or called upon. In other instances, deceased beings feel they have a right to the home they once occupied and return. Others long for the life they once had and return for that familiarity.

Katy, my girlfriend on Kings Mountain, called saying there were ghosts in her home, causing upset since her kindergartner wasn’t sleeping well. She was desperate for my help and asked me to come over. I let her know her home needed to be quiet for me to effectively learn why the ghosts were there.

I went over the next day while her husband was at work and her two children were at school. I’d been sitting on the fireplace and Katy walked in to ask what kind of tea I wanted.  The back door was moving open by itself and she asked why that was happening. I

I said, “Well, I asked them to leave.” We believed the men to be Purdy Pharis, the man who was murdered there in 1884, and Hiriam Haskins, his suspected murderer. I encountered two men quarreling and a boy. I sent them all up in a bubble to fight it out up on top of our house, however, learned they no longer needed to fight. They needed to be heard and understood. The energy inside Katy’s house changed immediately and finally became their own.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!