Introducing Harriet

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 Great Grndma Harriet Grandma Lucy George Jr Mom - Copy

Introducing Harriet

I have one old and moderately washed out black and white photo of her. She sits centered on the third step down of a seven tier whitewashed porch. On the upper landing behind her right shoulder is the top porch post that casts its silhouette diagonally down the steps and then disappears into her back. About five feet beyond the post, there are weathered russet brown shingles that encase a gossamer curtained window. Over her left shoulder is the front entryway with its wooden planked door hanging open in the fading afternoon light.

She is a stout and pale woman with drawn back flaxen hair. She wears a white cottoned frock that would drape to lower calf upon standing. Its sleeves are unbuttoned at her elbows. The expression on her face is one of learned determining. Her brow is fixed in a display of concerned wisdom. Her jaw is firmly set and a smile is not evident. Her left hand rests palm down on her left knee. Her right rests similarly on her right lower thigh. On the next step down and to her right, her grandson George by Thomas, sits on her daughter Lucy’s lap. Her granddaughter Evie, by Lucy, sits fidgeting one more step down and in front.

Her name is Harriet. She is my great grandmother and your great, great grandmother. She was born in 1847. Issued forth from gallant English and fiery Irish inheritance and received at the eleventh-hour within a small southwestern town of England called Glastonbury which is located in the Mendip district. Her nativity was a two-roomed shanty that was wind whipped and shuddering with creak and groan as it attended against a lashing gale. Her first cry found the air of rain, and thunder and lightning’s report and of the driven down fields bearing creations glowering.

Her mother Colleen, who had labored since the morning of the previous day, immediately forgot birthings travail upon finally knowing her daughter. Harriet’s hair was a fine band of shimmering platinum and her eyes were deep bluish gray. Her lips were pink petal and her skin was as the touch of silk. Colleen counted every dainty finger and each scrunched up toe as she faithfully inspected every inch of this new innocence. Harriet knew the warmth of her mother’s breast and tender enfolding. She heard the loving tones as her mother gently cradled her while cooing, “Hello my Love, hello my dear, hello my sweet Harriet. I am your mommy and I Love you so. I always will.”

James, who had also not rested for more than thirty-six hours, sat next to them in wonderment and thankfulness. He and Colleen had for so long in patience awaited, and now at last the promise was here. With every delicacy he lifted her up with swaddling and placed his kiss of covenant upon her still furrowed brow. “Harriet my joy, Harriet my love, Harriet my own; the wonders I will show you. Harriet my own, Harriet my Love.” He spoke quietly of forever. They would teach her of the daffodil, the rose and the dove.

James was a gentle and thoughtful man of moving passions and equaled devotion. He would remember and not forget his promised commitment to Harriet. Upon the eve of her mid November birth, with tears ebbing down his placid face, he took pen in hand and wrote to his beloved:Our Garden

Walk with me within our garden
See the truth that you seek
Touch the petals of velvet purpose
Joy in the good that speaks

I want to show you the daffodils
I want you to know their splendor
I want to embrace the daffodils
They are good to remember

The leaf will wave its recognition
When borne on gentle air
Therein you find your own salvation
You see that they are there

The shadow offers it’s true liberation
Shelter is meant to be kind
The shadow exists
Providing asylum for the growing vine

The grains of sand are many
They wear their uniform
Responding in sands own language
Whenever weight it is borne

The ants themselves are worthy
They seek their own recourse
While building up their castles
Made of sandy earth

The bear she feeds her children
She has them always in mind
As she discovers the honeycomb
That is there to find

The elephant tusk is ivory
Shone matte within the light
A compassionate gentle giant
Protecting heart’s delight

The elk’s majesty is mighty
Known on sheaves of rack
Gallivanting before you
Not mindful of any lack

The ostrich feathers are useful
They shiver their own retort
As the ostrich head gets buried
The neck has now become sport

The salmon knows where home is
He will set upon raging course
Even unto his own escape
From watery universe

The clouds will speak their own report
They shed their tears of Love
For how could we enjoy our garden
If not nourished from cloud above

The winter shale is coolness
Upon the tremoring earth
Whose fire seethes within itself
While seeking its own birth

The glow streaks forth in brilliance
Carried within lightning strike
Friction bears its own response
It speaks of scorching might

And so we finger the velvet
That rivals the light of any star
Knowing goodness before us
Know that I know you are

As we climb into our bed of thorn
We know of purposeful entreat
I do not know how to Love you more
Other than to give what is given to keep

Harriet’s first real memories, aside from knowing of her mother’s compassion and father’s devotion, were of the trove of treasures found within her own yard and the surrounding fields and meadowland. She would toddle about as her mother planted, trellised, watered, fed, plucked and pruned many a manner of plant, bush, shrub, flower and vine.

The rose bushes were posted at the corner fencing of the front yard. Their pastels of white, pink, yellow, and red would herald themselves forth in the mid-morning light. The daffodils were the color of the sun and their fragrance was sweetness itself. The delicate iris petals were deep purple velvet and shared their bed with the designed faces of hearty pansies. The tromboning red and yellow tulips were planted in front of the soft pink azaleas and mellow lavender rhododendron bushes standing under the front facing windows. The trumpeting orange and white lilies stood guard under each port on the east side. The lilacs lined the back border and in the evenings, when Harriet would lay her head to rest, she would breathe deeply as her nostrils relished in the perfumed aeration wafting through her open window.

Excerpt from book  “Harriet” by Nancy Evelyn Pais

Nancy a
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