May 27 – On Woodpeckers and Wieners

We arrived on site 29 at Hamburg State Park in Mitchell, Georgia in time for an all-beef hotdog on the electric grill last night, both looking forward to a long weekend of camping and spending time reflecting on those who made our freedom possible at the ultimate cost. As we drove here to this beautiful place to enjoy the peace, I couldn’t help wondering if those we are pausing to remember would be pleased if they were granted a visitor’s pass to come back and see how we’ve managed what they gave their own lives protecting.

I write this on the heels of a letter our district received from a concerned citizen about having school-related events in religious buildings. Because our auditorium is under construction, our small rural school district has had to reach out to churches for space this year; otherwise, students would not have had opportunities to celebrate their accomplishments with families there to share meals with them. The parent was upset because a Christian prayer was offered by a parent before a meal in a fellowship hall for a banquet that was not mandatory for students to attend.

Earlier this year, we had a county commissioner who wanted to go through every book on our library shelves because a child had checked out a book that had a character with two mothers – – our PUBLIC library shelves – – to remove a book not in keeping with his own opinions and values, for a book that was not mandatory for any child to read.

As I thought about choice and freedom as I grilled these wieners, I heard the familiar sound that told me my mother was nearby – – and sending a message, as she still does in relation to my thoughts.

A woodpecker.

Beating its head against a tree.

I looked up to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, thinking almost aloud, Thanks, Mom. Are you sure you didn’t mean to send a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker instead?

And then these wieners began sizzling on the grill.

And somewhere in all of this head-banging and sizzling, it caused me to stop and wonder whether we can even handle the precious freedoms we have been given when we can’t all respect the freedoms of others. Some folks think that their freedoms include limiting the choices and freedoms that we all should have, and yet even hundreds of thousands of graves with American flags whipping in the breeze can’t even get our attention long enough to stop and consider the state of our nation.

So the woodpecker will forever chip away, and the wieners will continue sizzling, as Mom still prompts thinking from the other side, where all things in her world are now perfect.

February’s Open Write with Stacey Joy

Stacey Joy never fails to bring joyful and inspiring poetry prompts.  Her free verse is a perfect way to begin this month’s Open Write.  You can read it here on, and join us in writing today. The blackbirds are such beautiful symbols of the flight to freedom in the story, and on this weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count when so many are counting birds, I’ll reflect back on this story and her poem and be reminded that freedom as people and as a nation is a blessing that took blood, sweat, and tears – and lives – to have and hold.  She inspired me to choose an etheree to write about one of my favorites, also with a theme of freedom – The Legend of the Teddy Bear by Frank Murphy.  

They Called Him Teddy

When Roosevelt let a wild bear go free,

The Washington Post ran a cartoon.

Rose and Morris Michtom took note.

In their candy store, she sewed~

Commemorating choice~

Celebrating strength~

Their idea: our

Nation’s first