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See Rae Turnbull's bio and most current essays


See 2002 archives


Note:  After 20 years, Rae Turnbull discontinued her

beautiful column in July 2003 to pursue other interests.


June 8, 2003

With their homemade floats
and high school bands,
and horseback kids
from the local 4-H,
small town parades
are a summertime treat.

Sun hats and ball caps
shield the sun
from the folks
on the sidewalks,
who've come to watch
other folks they know
put on a show.
And there's always a lovely
Dairy Princess
or County Fair Queen
who waves graciously
as she rides by.

And near the end,
wailing its siren,
there will likely be
at least one firetruck,,
with the lucky children
of volunteer firemen
riding with their papas
in the parade.

As refreshing
as icecold lemonade,
small town parades
are summertime treats,
served with slices
of sweet memories.

June 10, 2003

You should write a novel,
I'm often told.
But writing on such
a grand scale
has never been for me.
Mine is a more modest need.

My words are only
meant to catch moments.
Passing thoughts
about everyday lives.
so many of us share.
These are the scenes
I feel compelled
to comment upon.

Let others change
the ways of the world
with words that speak
of themes that are great
and profound.

I will stay
with the simpler things,
my voice a whisper
compared to theirs.
For it only echoes
the joys and fears
of one human heart.
But other hearts listen
and hear their own.

June 12, 2003

Whether or not
he's within my view,
I always know
when Dan's around.
I see his shoes.

They're very seldom
on his feet.
No matter what
the weather is,
or if he's playing
indoors or out,
his shoes are something
he quickly sheds,
usually right by my door.

He's been that way
since his very first pair.
The shoes might be
a perfect fit,
but Dan is one
of those little boys
who just loves to be
in his barefeet.

There's a cost to it.
Splinters and scrapes
on tender toes,
and soles that look
like leather strips.
But Dan's convinced
it's worth whatever
price he pays
just to feel his feet
running free!
June 15, 2003

We take the good ones
for granted.

As a child,
I remember my surprise
to learn there were fathers
who couldn't be bothered
to come home.
And when they did,
they cared little,
if at all,
about the children
waiting there.

I took for granted
that every child
had a father much like mine.
One who worked hard
to provide his family
with the basic necessities.

One who believed
in our hopes and dreams,
and did his best,
in so many ways,
to help us succeed
in whatever we tried.
And whether we did
or didn't win,
he loved us just the same.

I took him for granted.
Thankfully, I could.
Because he was
one of the good ones.

June 17, 2003

"I take care of them,
because I can."
He said it as
a matter of fact,
as though it was merely
the logical thing to do.

Others saw it as noble,
a purely unselfish act,
with no personal reward.
He saw it simply as duty,
willingly done.

So he took her in,
his sister and her child,
when they were in need.
And made a place for them,
there on the ranch.
He fixed up the old mobile,
empty for so long,
out by the back pasture,
and made it a home.

And in return,
he demanded nothing,
and asked for even less.
That kindness shown,
he saw as only
what anyone would do.

I see it as the finest form
of nobility in man.
To help,
simply because you can.

June 19, 2003

Standing behind her,
a little off to the side,
I watch her
trying on the gown
she will wear
at her wedding.

She smiles at me
in the mirror.
Somehow I know
we're both remembering
the times when she
had the opportunity
to become
a much younger bride.

But she let them go by.
For she was careful
in her choosing,
wanting her choice to be
one she could believe
was wise enough to last.
And careful choices
often take
a little more time.

Now here we stand,
she and I,
two women in a mirror.
One of them the mother
of the beautiful bride.
A bride forever young,
in her mother's eyes.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


May 25, 2003

To remember them
is to honor them.
To set aside
one certain day
of gratitude for sacrifice
beyond all reckoning
of cost.

To remind ourselves
of what they were
so willing to do,
to keep the freedoms
given us.
And to be worthy
of what they gave.

To be aware
of their youthful promise
left undone,
as they valiantly answered
the call to serve,
knowing that some
would not return.
Knowing that theirs
could well be among
the brave lives lost.

It's a debt they knew
we could never repay,
and knowing this,
they gave anyway.
And all each one of them
ever asked
is that we remember.

May 27, 2003

She'd been telling me
stories of her childhood.
And she enjoyed the telling.
Her eyes had softened
and her voice had lost
its often brittle edge.

I wanted to hear more,
to have her stay
in that place in her mind
where she once
had found it easy
to be kind.
But suddenly she stopped.

"Memories," she said,
"are better than reality.
They let you have
the luxury
of leaving out
the ugly parts."

Her cynical self was back.
Wary and watchful,
she closed up her heart.
Storytime was done.

She had looked too long
through the window
of her childhood.
Its rosy glow had gone,
and left her looking sadly
at how badly
it was cracked.

May 29, 2003

He goes through life
finding fault
with everyone.
It's almost as though
he truly believes
there's some sort
of cunning conspiracy,
directed at him,

So a phone call
someone forgot to return
becomes a reason
to declare that person
an enemy.
Or an overworked clerk
whose comment may be
a little bit curt,
he'll see as an insult,
made with a mean
intention to hurt.

He expects special favors
but when it's he
who's asked for help,
he considers it
an imposition.

But still he has earned
my sympathy.
For how hard it must be
to live with the knowledge
that the only one perfect
is yourself.
June 1, 2003

There's too much
to remember.
Memories that span
nearly a century
are crowded into her mind.

Sorting through them,
searching slowly
for some particular one,
she loses a few
every now and then.

Sometimes she finds
a memory
she was certain
she'd never see again,
surprised to learn
it was there all along,
and simply misplaced.

She tries to retrace
her faltering steps,
picking her way
through the pile,
but it's an endless task.

Questions she's asked
have so many answers,
leading her off
in different directions,
until she forgets
why her search began,
and what it was
she needed to find
Too much to remember,
and too little time.

June 3, 2003

How hard the north wind
works at its cleaning.
Hurling headlong
across the countryside,
it labors relentlessly.

Stripping off
the broken branches
winter left behind,
it cleans every tree.
It sweeps the fields,
wide open and waiting,
to clear the chaff
the hay balers leave.

It gets all the corners,
as any worthy
housekeeper should,
and vacuums
every speck of dust
from patios and porches
in our rural neighborhood.

Sometimes its job's done
in a matter of hours,
sometimes it takes
several days.
But when the north wind
goes on its way,
it knows that whatever
path it follows,
that path will be left
swept clean and neat.

June 5, 2003

June's gained much fame
as the month of brides,
as though brides alone
are the stars of the show.
But what about grooms?

Lovely brides, of course,
claim center stage
in every wedding.
But we tend to forget
there's someone else there
of equal importance.

So I propose,
with no pun intended,
that the groom be given
more than the glance
we cast his way.
He deserves the same
admiring gaze
we offer the bride.

For he's more than a prop
in her production.
And the part he plays
is more than a mere
supporting role.

So smile at both
with the same attention.
It will help them remember
their show will fold
if either forgets
they're no longer a solo,
they're a duet.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


May 11, 2003

My children will find
many thoughtful things
to say or do
this Mother's Day,
to be certain I know
I'm appreciated.

But more and more,
as the years unfold,
I truly believe
it's my children who
are the ones rightly due
for heartfelt expressions
of gratitude.

For my learning curve
in motherhood
has been a long
and gradual climb,
slowed by frequent
slipping back.

But my children learned
to find what was good
in the way they were raised.
And they're also learning
to understand
and try to forgive
the mistakes I made
and the courage I lacked.

And of all the gifts
they've given me,
those are the ones
my heart holds fast.

May 13, 2003

Find Dempsey, I tell myself,
as I call out
to the little cat.
He usually responds
to the sound of my voice,
especially if he's hungry.

It's time for his medicine,
but he's not been seen
since sunup.
I'm told a peaceful coma
will likely take him
when his long life
is due to end.
I think he senses
that time is soon.
It's me who can't accept it.

I'm walking now
by the fence line.
And the only cats I see
are the others in our crew.
I fill their bowls
by the barn.
And still no Dempsey.

I feel helpless.
Too many places on a ranch
where an ailing critter
can crawl away to hide.
But I keep searching,
till dark forces me inside.
I call him one more time.
Sleep will be slow
to come tonight.

May 15, 2003

The middle of May
means summer is coming.
Though my window view
still shows snow
on the northern peaks,
winter is gone
from our valley floor,
and Springtime, too,
is preparing to leave.

And loud and clear,
I hear summer's rap
at my back door.
And I'm ready for it.

Ready to shed
the layers of clothing
we need in the cold.
Ready to welcome
the warmer days
and the leafy shade
of the mulberry trees.

Ready to welcome
long, lazy twilights,
and opened windows
to let in the breezes
that visit at night.

Nature will still
try to confuse us
with some gray, chilly days.
But I won't be fooled.
It's the middle of May.
Summer is coming!
May 18, 2003

He gives me a grin
that fills his little face
with light,
and fills my heart
with a memory.

Where I have seen
that smile before
comes back instantly.
And for a fleeting
fraction of time,
I'm watching again,
by a front door,
for a little boy
walking home from school.

I see him appear
at the end of the street,
his coat half off
and his backpack dragging
in the dust.
Then he sees me
and I see the smile.
It flashes wide
across his face,
and he hurries now.
He's almost home.

Where did they go,
those scurrying years?
At least I know
where the smile has gone.
The little boy
became a man,
and passed it on
to his own small son.

May 20, 2003

There's no meanness in her.
Some say she simply
was born that way.
But I'm more
inclined to believe
the years of poor treatment
she received
made her choose
to never show meanness
to anyone else.

Don't misunderstand.
There is no lack
of spirit or strength
in the lady's personality.
But she uses both
for better ends
than making life hard
on family and friends.

It's true she comes
away with less
than those who shove
others aside,
and ruthlessly push
their way through the world.

But she follows
a gentler, kinder path.
And when she arrives
at her journey's end,
the jubilant welcome
given her then
will have no meanness in it.

May 22, 2003

Some days I sail along,
picking up speed as I go,
gaining fast
on that day's goals.

But some days I stumble,
slipping and sliding
as though I'm mired
in a muddy swamp,
making much effort,
but going nowhere.

I used to think
that if I knew
when I awoke,
that the day ahead
would be one of those,
I'd surely decide
to stay in bed.

But now I know
that wouldn't be me.
I'm too much
of an optimist
to heed any signs
that the day might be
less than smooth.

And it's best that way.
For sometimes things
take a sudden good turn
midway through.
And I wouldn't want
to miss one of those
by sleeping through it!


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


April 27, 2003

Why do I always
turn to you,
whenever I have
a problem?
Why do I always confide
my worries and fears
to only your ears?

And when I'm clearly
but unwilling to show it,
how are you always the one
to somehow know it?

And when I've done
all I think I can do,
and nothing seems to work,
how do you still
believe in me,
and offer hope?

Time and again,
I've asked these things,
yet you never answer.
you let your actions speak.
And you simply reach
your hand to me,
and help me stand
on my own two feet.

And beyond all words,
I love you, friend,
for your faith in me.

April 29, 2003

It's only been
in the last few years
that I finally feel
this is where we belong.

In the first half
of our long marriage,
we moved so often
that most of the places
where we lived
seemed pretty much the same
when we left,
as they were when we came.
But this one's changed
right before our eyes.

Twenty three years ago,
we arrived,
and only the land was here.
We built the house,
the barn and the fences.
And as most things do,
in that space of time,
the ranch is showing
signs of its age,
in a host of ways.

That might bother folks
who haven't much use
for things not new.
But I'm happy to see
the newness gone.
It means this is where
we finally belong.

May 1, 2003

He races up to the fence,
stopping just short of it,
as if to prove he can,
then spins around,
and after one
spectacular kick,
races back across the field.

Young stallion, showing off
at every chance,
proving his athletic prowess,
as much to himself,
as to anyone else
who happens to be there.

It's a joy to see
the speed and grace,
the supple ease
with which he moves.
And best of all,
his playful display
is an honest one,
with no intention
to deceive.

It simply says
what all youth cries,
"Look at me,
while I use this
God given energy!"
May 4, 2003

Lost dreams.
Every so often, I see them,
half hidden in your eyes.

They were normal dreams,
in their common theme.
A longing for love
and a family.
Dreams we dare to believe
when we're young,
certain one day
they will surely come true.

But not for you.
So many offered reasons
why your dreams disappeared.
But none of us really knew.
Even you are puzzled.
Wondering what you did
or didn't do
to turn your dreams away.

But you hide
your disappointment well,
making a suitable
life for yourself.

Perhaps it's only me,
who catches a glimpse,
and sees in the sadness
in your eyes,
lost dreams.

May 6, 2003

"Help is on the way,"
she said, and it seemed
she was speaking
directly to her flowerbed,
for no one else was near.

Then she put on
her worn old garden gloves
and proceeded to pull out
every single, stubborn weed.
It was hard work
for someone her age.
But when I made
my offer to help,
she declined to accept it.

"This is my therapy,"
she said, her beaming smile
making it easy to believe
her statement was true.

She spent her whole life
helping family and friends,
in one way or another.
And her flowers were
good friends of hers.

When the weeding was done,
she spoke to them again,
"Now you can breathe!"
And the satisfaction
on her face
was therapy for me.

May 8, 2003

I call Carmine and Sissy
the sunshine sisters.
And my back porch
is their morning spot.
Since they were kittens,
and first found the porch
a perfect place
to catch the early sun,
their antics entertain me
every morning.

Inseparable, as sisters
sometimes are,
they scamper after shadows,
or balance precariously
on the wooden railing,
pouncing on wayward leaves,
and on each other.
Then by mutual agreement,
they choose a likely spot,
and curl up together,
to doze in the sun.

What a difference
can be made
in a day's beginning,
by the pleasant presence
of cheerful company.

For I find,
whatever my morning
mood may be,
it lightens up considerably
as soon as I see
Carmine and Sissy.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


April 13, 2003

She sits on the edge
of her bed,
surveying the contents
of the box,
cards and letters
collected over the years,
now laid out carefully
across the spread.
She reaches
for the nearest one,
and begins to read.

So many memories,
some happy, some sad,
in those pieces of paper.
Reading their words,
she moves through time,
revisiting places
from the past.
And in her mind,
seeing again
dear faces of friends.

This is a journey
she hadn't intended to take,
when the morning began.
She only meant to rearrange
some storage space.
Then she came upon the box.

Hours later,
she closes the lid
and tucks the box away,
as evening comes
and her gentle journey ends

April 15, 2003

There are some very
disruptive souls
who like to cause
confusion and doubt
in the minds
of everyone they know.

They seem to be
downright discontent
when the sea is calm
and the sailing's smooth.
To fill their apparently
desperate need
for some sort of drama
in their lives,
they create waves
where none should exist.

Finding fault
and placing blame,
they irritate and agitate,
till feelings are hurt
and patience frayed.

Yet the sad thing about
this role they chose
is though it gives them
center stage,
it's a drama
finally played alone.
And saddest of all,
their performance receives
no applause.

April 17, 2003

I like to think of myself
as resourceful.
Someone who
can usually find
a good solution
to a problem.
And often, that's true.

Yet being resourceful
requires clear thinking.
The kind that looks out
from a logical mind
and sees with an unbiased
point of view.
But unbiased is something
I just can't be
when it comes to family.

Call it loyalty or love,
when family's involved,
my judgment is clouded,
my logic is muddled.
A solution might be
right in front of me,
but my eyes turn away
and refuse to see.

So I often say yes,
when no is what's needed.
And I offer excuses
instead of sound reasons.
When it comes to family,
my head and my heart
don't always agree.
April 20, 2003

Beginning again.
Finding the courage
to change our lives,
to right the wrongs
we've done to others
and to ourselves.

Facing our mirrors
and finally seeing
with a clear,
yet forgiving eye.
Finding the strength
to recognize
the mirror image
is not the one
we know it can be.

Beginning again.
Reborn and renewed,
that's the true meaning
of resurrection.
A miraculous message
that's never restricted
to only this glorious
time of the year.

For I believe
whenever we find,
in our personal lives,
the darkness dispelled
from our own despair,
Easter arrives.

April 22, 2003

She never had the luxury
of aging gracefully.
Years of hard work
in harsh weather
had roughened her skin.
And expensive creams
to soften it
were never an option.

Strenuous use
of joints never meant
for such abuse
left her with
a permanent limp
from a knee gone bad,
and no money to fix it.

On the outside,
it appeared at first glance,
that she was much older
than her years.
But a closer look
let the inside show,
and her eyes held the glow
of youth and hope.

Inside is where
she carried her pride,
in the work she'd done,
and children she'd saved
and raised on her own.
And those children knew
her beauty was deep
and came from a sweet,
unselfish soul.

April 24, 2004

We each have our time.
Our moment of measure,
when we are the best
we're meant to be.

For some, it comes
in the spring of our lives,
like the Redbud shrubs,
when they paint the hills
with bright brush strokes.

For others, the moment
comes in summer,
like the roses that cover
the garden trellis
with glorious color.

Some of us save
our moment for fall,
like the Aspen tree,
when its delicate leaves
are dipped in gold.

And like the poinsettia's
star shaped flower,
some savor our moment
when winter hushes
the world with snow.

Whenever it comes,
we know it later,
and hold it safe,
in our memories,
until there are no more
moments to measure.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


March 30, 2003

The old house
hugs the high side
of the meadow.
Its lighted windows
reassure me,
as I drive the road
that marks
the meadow's edge.

On this moonless night,
I can barely see
the house itself,
a black silhouette,
against the charcoal sky.
But I know it's there.

I've seen it so many times
on this homeward drive,
it's become a friend.
A familiar feature
of the landscape
that lets me know
I'm almost home.

And sometimes,
when the hour is late,
and my day's been filled
with things gone wrong,
the old house,
in its never changing place,
helps me find
my perspective again.
Like any true friend,
it comforts me,
just by being there.

April 1, 2003

She's having a birthday.
An opportunity for me
to let her know
how happy I am
that she was born.

An opportunity to show,
with a gift and words,
how comfortable
I feel with her,
as though she and I
had known one another
since her birth.

For though her entrance
into my life
only began
a few years before
she became my son's wife,
I think of her
as a lifelong friend.

The kindnesses she's shown,
the thoughtful things
she does for me,
and the whole family,
are mirrors of
the loving essence
of her nature.

And any gift
she may receive
can never equal
the gift she's given me
simply by her presence.

April 3, 2003

he moves across the yard.
The work's been hard
and the day's been long.

Even a younger man
might find his energy gone,
after such a tiring day,
she reminds him.
But still,
his disappointment shows.
And surfaces in anger,
with himself,
at what he can no longer
easily do.

A powerful man,
whose physical strength
has always served him well,
he will not easily
let it go.
But he's a man
of wisdom, too,
who long ago learned,
when changes come,
they must be adjusted to.

What once took him
a day or two,
must now be done
in three or four.
This fact he knows,
but acceptance comes
April 6, 2003

They're outgrowing
even their sleeping bags.
Barely a month ago,
or so it seems,
both boys fit nicely
into a sleeping space
now filled completely
by only one.

Even the littlest lad,
by standing on
the tips of his toes,
can reach the shelf
where I keep the cups,
without needing to ask
his brother for help.

If the oldest
forgets his jacket,
he can borrow
his grandpa's
and turn up the cuffs
on the sleeves
only once.

And when I read
to them before bed,
they take up
a lot more space
on the sofa.
And something else
I"m noticing too,
is how much more room
they take in my heart.

April 8, 2003

Running errands,
hurrying from one place
to another,
I realize I'm hungry.
Nearby is a coffee shop
that serves my favorite
orange pecan scones.

As I drive into
the small parking lot,
my mood begins to change.
The frazzled feeling
that's followed me
all morning,
begins to fade away.

I step inside,
and the smiling face
behind the counter
offers a warm welcome.
And as I sip
from a steaming cup,
this pleasant thought
crosses my mind.

How often the things
that help us through
a hectic day
are simple pleasures.
Like favorful coffee
and a scone,
served with a smile
in a friendly place.

April 10, 2003

She sits in the chair,
leans her head
against its back,
and closes her eyes.
She's very tired,
with a weariness
that can't be cured
by sleep.

She tried,
sleeping through
most of a week
soon after he died.
But it didn't help.
Her inner energy,
her love of the world's
small wonders,
left when he did.

And she worries.
Did he really know
how much of her
joy of living
came from having
him in her life.
Her eyes closed,
she sees his smile,
and it tells her
he knew.

She sits in the chair,
her head against its back.
And finally free,
she cries.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


March 16, 2003

"Only time will tell."
It's almost a whisper,
but I'm near enough
to hear the worry
in her voice.
And I know why it's there.

Change is coming
to her part of the valley.
Ranches that run back
through generations
are in hard times.

Some folks are leaving,
packing up,
and selling off their land.
Some are staying,
but selling off the cattle.
Cattle whose great
great grandparents
began the breeding line
right there on the place.

True, they're neighbors
hundreds of acres away,
but neighbors just the same.
And how their lives go
affects hers,
in one way or another.
And mixed in with sadness
for them,
is worry for herself.
She reads my thoughts,
and softly says again,
"Only time will tell."

March 18, 2003

It's a day to cherish.
Easy enough to do
on a day like this,
with the sky
a beckoning blue,
and the grasses colored
bright Spring green.

Easy enough
to cherish the day
when leaf buds tip
each tree branch,
and wildflowers flourish
in every field.
When the sense of life
is a song that sings
in the valleys and hills.

And yet I find,
as I go through the years,
that even the rain drenched
dreary days
are ones I cherish.

For there's no supply
of endless days,
hoarded and saved,
that lets me squander
even one,
without being grateful.

Dazzling and bright
or somber and gray,
every day of life
is a day to cherish.

March 20, 2003

It's a quiet night.
Even out here
in the countryside,
the sounds
I normally hear
are strangely stilled.

The cattle have gone
to the farthest corner
of the pasture,
and the horses sleep silently
in the moonlight.

The loudest sound
is my own shoes,
crunching across
the gravel drive.
When I reach the grass,
I stop and sit
on a lawn chair
left there from the day.

I pull my sweater
around me,
against the chill.
And after awhile,
I hear the gentle purr
of one of the cats,
who comes up close,
to keep me company.
And he and I together
savor the quiet
of this night.
March 23, 2003

He makes things
easy for me.
In a hundred little ways
he thinks
I never notice,
he smooths the wrinkles
of my days.

The path I walk
is sometimes filled
with stumbling blocks.
He travels just a bit ahead,
and moves as many
as he can
away from where
I need to go.

How often I wearily
turn to a task
when the hour is late,
and I'm tired and worn,
and find he has it
almost done.

If I had kept
a book to list
all the times
he's eased my life,
it would have
long ago been full,
and maybe lost.

So I've kept them instead,
in a safer place,
the endless pages
of my heart.

March 25, 2003

Pictured in colors
soft and pale,
the seersucker shirts
on the catalog page
send me swiftly
back to the summers
when I was young.

When my worries were
as easy to bear
as the gentle touch
of a seersucker shirt.
The crinkly fabric,
cool and light,
seemed very much
like summer itself.

For summer then
was free from heavy
grownup cares.
Dawn came early
and lingering twilights
lengthened the day.
And after childhood
chores were done,
there was abundant
time for play.

We'd stay outside
till the fireflies tired
of being chased,
and the evening breeze
summoned a sleep
as sweet
as my seersucker memories.

March 27, 2003

His hands down deep
in the pockets
of his work stained jeans,
he stands beside
the brand new tractor.

She watches him
from their old pick up.
This John Deere dealership
is a place he likes to go.
"Just to see
what the new ones are like,"
as he puts it.

Today she went along
for the ride,
for that's all it ever
amounts to.
Both of them know
a brand new tractor
is out of the question.

Watching him,
she's sorry she complained
about her washing machine.
"It's looking shabby,"
she's said, as he quietly
nodded his head.
Now she says to herself,
"I'm not the only one
giving up dreams."

And he wonders why
she pats his hand,
as they drive away
in the old pick up truck.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


March 2, 2003

"I think it's better,"
he said with a grin,
"to walk side by side,
than to follow
or walk ahead."

She smiled, too,
as the two of them
stacked hay bales
in the open bed
of the old pick up truck.

They'd found each other
later in life than most,
and by then, they both
were pretty much set
in the way each one
was going to be.

And both seemed to think
it just made sense
that each one accept
the skills and style
the other had worked
so hard to achieve.
And accept them they did,
with gratitude.

Neither felt the need
to be the boss
or prove themselves better.
They'd learned the wisdom
of being a partner,
not a competitor.

March 4, 2003

It's best not to worry
too far ahead.
So much can change
in the space of a day
that things we were sure
would bring us grief
might never even
come to pass.

I can't remember
how many times
I've found that true.
Yet somehow I still
worry myself
about most things
too far in advance.

I'd like to think
it's just a careful
way to be.
But I know better.
It's purely a waste
of practical time
to bother the mind
with thoughts
that trouble it needlessly.

There's plenty to do
just getting through
what might be piled
on my plate today.
It's time I learn
to just let tomorrow
wait its turn.

March 6, 2003

I need more days.
More years in my life
to learn and grow.

It's barely been
a decade or so
that I've finally found
some wisdom inside.
Some semblance of sense
of what in this world
is of real consequence.

I'm only just now
beginning to see
and thankfully, too,
that the world never did
revolve around me.

The longer I live,
the more I'm aware
that we share
the same human frailties
to a greater degree
than we want to believe.

It's taken a lifetime
to come this far,
to know in my heart,
my journey to wisdom
is barely begun.
With so much learning
yet to be done,
I can't possibly have
all the days I will need.
March 9, 2003

The finished puzzle
sits on the table,
and the little boy
points to it with pride.

The evening before,
he and his grandpa
put it together,
the little lad kneeling
on the chair,
so he could reach
the farthest pieces.

Moving between
deep concentration
and burst of laughter
at each success,
they fit the pieces
gradually making
their picture complete.

For awhile at least,
the finished puzzle
will stay on the table.
But soon its picture
will be forgotten,
tucked away
in a drawer somewhere.

But the picture I see,
of a boy and his grandpa,
laughing together,
is one I will always
keep with me.

March 11, 2003

She never minded
time to herself,
to think her own thoughts,
without the distraction
of anyone else.

As much as she cherished
good company,
she never was fearful
of being alone.

To let her mind wander
through its own rooms,
noticing corners
long neglected,
discarding opinions
long ago held,
but no longer felt.
And finding again
ideas and dreams
worth the keeping.

Some go their whole lives
too much concerned
with the thinking of others,
that they have no idea
what thoughts are their own.

And she always believed
that the more
she understood herself
the better she served
every one else.

March 13, 2003

Things change.
alter themselves
and situations shift.
Yet change is feared
by those who want
their world rigidly set.

Things change,
And change is something
I'm learning to see
as a sign of possibilities,
and a source of hope.

For the difficult road
that turns and twists
on a treacherous ridge
can suddenly come
to a meadow's rim,
and the way is clear
and level again.

And a heart that's filled
with worry and fear
for an ailing child
can suddenly see
a bloom of health reappear.
And that heart is filled
with hope once more,
grateful to know
things change.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


February 16, 2003

Imagine how hard
it must have been
to be the one chosen
the first president
of a brand new nation,
struggling free.

Imagine how carefully
he must perform
the daunting task
of guiding a people
determined to follow
their own lead.

Imagine how weighty
his sense of responsibility
for proving the truth
of democracy
to a world that believed
it was only a dream.

And to do all this,
with no precedents set,
no wisdom passed down,
from someone who
had done it before.
Imagine how brave
that man must have been.
Then know why we honor
George Washington.

February 18, 2003

She knows
we're not there yet.
As wise as we
may think we are,
we have not traveled
that part of the road
that lies ahead.

But her heart forgives,
and she simply sighs
and nods her head,
as we give advice
on things she knows
we cannot truly

We want to believe
we know how difficult
it must be
to lose a life long love
and friend.
But she knows firsthand,
its lonely pain,
and we can tell her
nothing new.

But she listens again,
as we speak,
and she's silently glad
that we've not yet come
to the part of the road
she walks alone.

February 20, 2003

I want to win.
Whenever I enter
competition of any kind,
victory is what I seek.

Some may play
purely for
the sake of the game,
not really caring
how it ends.
That's not for me.

I don't know how
to play half way.
When I join a game,
I go in giving
the best of me,
and that can't be done
half heartedly.

Some may say
I take it all
too seriously,
finding no joy
simply in how
the game is played.
But joy for me
is knowing I gave
my very best.

Then win or lose,
I can do it with grace,
believing the winner
deserved the day.
February 23, 2003

The child questions,
feeling always
the need to know.
The parent answers,
feeling always
the need for time.

But asking why
is how the child learns.
Why are there stars?
Why does a soda
bubble and fizz?
Why does the puppy
bury the bone?

And taking the time
to answer the questions
is how the parent
learns who the child is.

For the questioning child
offers the chance
to catch a glimpse
of who he or she
will one day be.

And the parent who pushes
that chance aside,
may one day find
it's harder and harder
to catch those glimpses
once the questioning
child is grown.

February 25, 2003

He waits.
The call is coming,
of that he's sure,
and he's ready.
Or so he tells himself.

He goes about his day,
as though this certainty
will somehow go away.
He hides it beneath
the endless thoughts
of his daily routine.
But it pushes itself,
to the surface.

He's a practical man,
given to stoic acceptance
of things he cannot change.
But lately he finds
that's easier said than done.

Of his five brothers,
only three remain,
and one of the three
is in a final struggle.
And when it ends,
the call will come.

But he looks in his heart
and sees that brother,
strong and young,
and holding tight
to that memory,
he waits.

February 27, 2003

It won't be long now.
Gray days will do
a disappearing act,
and Spring will stage
its spectacular comeback.

Skies will be
a brilliant blue,
and on barren hillsides
and winter worn fields,
wildflowers will bloom

Cold days will warm
to a friendlier sun.
And the morning fog
will be replaced
by crystals of dew,
shimmering bright
on bold little blades
of fresh green grass.

Howling winds
will quiet down,
and gentle themselves
to breezy sighs
that barely ruffle
brand new leaves.

And even if Spring
steps on stage
a trifle late,
the world will applaud,
and all will agree,
She was worth the wait.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


February 2, 2003

I hear their cry
in the stormy night.
In the dying wind,
the call of the cattle
carries clear
across the fields.

As many years
as I've heard that sound,
it still strikes deep
inside my soul
and speaks a language
old as time.

It's a poignant plea
for a brief relief
from the numbing wet
that penetrates
through hair and skin
as though the creatures
stand there bare.

I know it's the natural
order of things,
for critters who live
in the world outside,
where weather is simply
endured and survived.

But my heart hears,
in their lament,
the cry of all creatures
in this world
who long for shelter
from the storm.

February 4, 2003

Every ranch I know
has a place out back
with a cluttered collection
of old spare parts.
One never knows
when something might break
on the Baler again,
and replacements
aren't even made anymore.

Even in town,
every family home
has a box or a bin
in the garage
where spare parts live.
One never knows
when the lawnmower throws
a bolt or a pin
and the hardware store
closed an hour ago.

I'm thinking how very
nice it would be
to have something like that
for the parts of me
that slip off track
every now and then.

For one never knows
when the memory
might slip a cog,
or the legs only walk
when the mind says jog.
How well I could use
a spare parts bin!

February 6, 2003

She needs my help,
and that bothers her.
Rightfully proud
of her independence,
my mother's annoyed
with her ever increasing
dependence on me.

I think sometimes
she mistakes my impatience
as a possible sign
she's becoming a burden.
But my impatience
is only frustation
with her needless worrying.

Doesn't she know
that I consider
whatever small measure
of help I give her
as merely a drop
compared to the constant
help she gave me?

Doesn't she know
that whatever I do,
I can never repay
her years of service,
lovingly given?

And doesn't she know
that for wise guidance,
I'm still the one
dependent on her?
February 9, 2003

She's on a roll.
You can actually see
her new found confidence
adding a subtle
change in the length
of her stride.

There's purpose, now,
to her life plan.
And she's taking
a stronger, surer aim
at goals she once
only saw as dreams.

It pleases me to see it.
Every gain she's made
has been hard work,
made much harder
at every step
by those who doubted
her lofty goals
could ever be met.

They wanted her
to follow their lead,
and simply submit
to the way things were.
But she proved them wrong,
and they fall in quickly
behind her now,
as if they always believed.
And to her credit,
she takes them along,
She's on a roll.

February 12, 2003

Abraham Lincoln
was far too great a man
not to be singled out,
for separate recognition.

What better way
to teach our children
the essence of
than to speak of gains
the individual president made.
Why lump outstanding men
into one nondescript
President's Day?

Great leaders like Lincoln,
entrusted with
the fate of a country,
during especially
difficult times,
deserve to be honored

Lincoln struggled daily,
with conscience and care,
as he searched for solutions
to shape a nation's destiny.

That he did this,
is worthy of,
at the very least,
one day of each year
reserved as his own.

February 14, 2003

A small candy heart,
with the cherished words
"Be Mine, Valentine,"
stamped on its top.
The sight of it
sends me back
to third grade.

Though it was likely
a random act,
the little boy
who gave it to me
was the same shy lad
I adored silently.

Then his family moved away,
and I never knew
if the Valentine heart
I kept till sixth grade
ever meant to him
as much as it
had meant to me.

It matters not.
For it gave a small girl
a secret sense
of her worthiness.
And whenever I see
"Be Mine, Valentine,"
on a white candy heart,
I find myself hoping
that life's been as kind
to that little lad
as it's been to me.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


January 19, 2003

I watch her
working with each child,
as she moves
around the room.
And I know,
this is a person
born to teach.

The classroom is crowded,
yet there's no confusion.
There's order in that room,
with no demeaning
or disrespect.
Her rules are fair
and mercifully few.

Every student seems to be
engaged in worthy activity.
And if some stray,
her keen assessment
of the children in her care
brings them quickly
back on track,
and deftly keeps them there.

She's provided with less
than the best supplies,
but she's not concerned.
She long ago learned
that her own example,
and faith in each child's
desire to discover
are her most important
teaching tools.

January 21, 2003

This is a road
I think I know.
But the closer I come
to the river,
the thicker the fog is.

The orchard trees
that march in rows
beside the highway,
are shadowy sentinels,
barely seen.

Clothed in cotton,
buildings emerge
as I drive by,
but only as
dimly lighted fronts,
their roofs and sides
shrouded in gray,
damp and dense.

Except to let
other drivers know
I share their road,
my lights are useless.

I'm pulled along
by the single line
that edges the asphalt.
Like all life's roads
we think we know,
I can only follow
where it leads,
and trust it's where
I want to go.

January 23, 2003

Theirs is a friendship
that goes well beyond
the boundaries of place
and the limits of time.

The bond began
soon after they met.
Though each has his own
strong identity,
in so many ways,
they are the same.

In their solid virtues
and moral courage,
and the way each man
praises these things
he sees in the other,
yet takes them for granted
in himself.

Their weaknesses
are mirrored too.
Critical of them,
in themselves,
yet each forgives them,
in the other.

The years have never
tarnished the truth
of their honest friendship.
It's as firm and fresh
as the day they met,
and each recognized
a life long friend.
January 26, 2003

Smoky's "sweet feed" bucket
bumping against
the pasture fence
tells me it's morning.

Winter grass is plentiful
in his pasture,
but the big black horse
is showing his years,
and his teeth
aren't what they used to be.

So twice a day,
his bucket's filled
with a healthy mixture,
laced with molasses,
and easy to chew.
And Smoky savors
each sweet bite.

As soon as morning's
first clear light
climbs the hills,
the old horse nudges
his empty bucket,
in case we've forgotten
what time it is.

But we know too well
how time rolls around,
and Smoky's time
is winding down.
And one of the morning
sounds I'll miss
is that "sweet feed" bucket
bumping the fence.

January 28, 2003

Her washing machine
decided to quit.
So she brings a bundle
of laundry to do,
and asks for the use
of my laundry room.

She sorts through stacks
of bedding and clothes,
then begins the first load.
I know she has chores
that need to be done
before night comes,
so I tell her
to go on with her day,
in a tone that leaves
no room for resistance.

"Thanks, Mom," she says,
"I'll be back to finish
as soon as I can."
I answer, "That's fine."
But I know how busy
her day will be,
so I'll have them folded,
in clean, dry stacks
before she comes back.

She'll thank me again,
and I'll reply,
"The pleasure's mine."
And I'll smile inside,
remembering when
my mother did
the same for me.

January 30, 2003

How foolish the sound
of my own voice,
complaining to all
near enough to hear it.

Pouting about
such petty problems,
feeling so sorry
for myself
because of a few
small things gone wrong.

My selfishness evaporates
at the worried tone
of his voice on the phone.
For he tells me news
of an ailing member
of family,
suffering through
new agony,
struggling just to survive.

And as he speaks,
I feel very small inside.
My minor concerns
have nearly used up
my supply of sympathy.
And I'm ashamed
at how little compassion
I kept aside
for those is greater need
than me.


Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003


January 5, 2003

I will sit here
and do nothing.
The holidays
have come and gone,
and I've thoroughly enjoyed
the preparations
and the parties.
But I equally enjoy
the lack of much
too much to do.

I don't miss
the sense of urgency
that filled the malls
and downtown stores.
Nor do I pine
for long post office lines.
And I'll nicely do without
the endless advertisements
for gifts most of us
hardly want
and do not really need.

So I'll settle on my sofa,
my warm robe on,
and my feet propped up,
and thank the Lord
for the blessings
and gifts
that I've received.

Not the least of which
is that I'm able,
to sit here and do nothing.

January 7, 2003

As I move
through the rooms
of my house,
I hear their voices,
talking together
in the kitchen.

There's an animated
give and take
in their conversation.
Some easy teasing
back and forth,
a pleasant indication
of real affection
between friends.

It pleases me
every time I hear it,
this warm exchange
between my husband
and my mother.

The deep respect
and love they have
for one another
is only one
of the many reasons why
each has a large
and permanent place
in my grateful heart.

January 9, 2003

Mother Nature works
Her strong south winds
thin and trim
the deadwood from the trees.

Her heavy downpours
of much needed rain
fill the ponds
and dry creek beds,
and quench the thirst
of winter crops.

We view weather
as a random thing,
its ways never easy
to understand.
But Mother Nature
knows there's a plan.

The rains she sends
and the driving winds
we only see
as destructive things.
She sees them as necessities,
as important to life
as days of sun
to make plants thrive,
or ready the fallow lands
for Spring.

And whether or not
we fully agree,
Mother Nature abides
no arguing.

January 12, 2003

They play at the table,
planning their projects,
working earnestly together,
while they build
with their Lego blocks.

Two little boys,
one nine and one six,
busily building planes
and ships,
then turning them into
trucks and trains,
as their make believe world
changes and shifts.

They're so involved
in creating things,
they've forgotten to fuss
with one another,
as siblings will,
when minds and hands
have nothing to do.

I listen to their dialogue,
as they trade for blocks
of different size,
depending on what
each one needs.

If children like these
can learn when it's wise
to compromise
to reach a common goal,
I wonder why we
can't learn it too.

January 14, 2003

You're not very keen
on remembering
dates and times.
Anniversaries and birthdays
slip in and out
of your memory.
Appointments you make
are often forgotten
as soon as they're made.

Your calendar's filled
with empty spaces,
intended for writing in
times and places
of when and where
you're supposed to be
on any given day.
But writing things down
is just not your style.

Folks who know
your forgetful ways
keep trying to change you.
But why clutter a mind
with dates and times
when it's already filled
with things really worth

For you never forget
to return a child's smile.
And you never forget
the carnation is
my favorite flower.
I think you're fine
just the way you are.

January 16, 2003

Not too long ago,
all I really needed
to keep track
of people and places
in my life,
was a small address book
by my telephone.

Friends had a number
I could call,
and businesses, too,
that I frequently used,
were nicely arranged
in an orderly list.
But little by little,
everything changed.

Friends found a need
for fax machines,
and that added a number
under their name.
Then email came,
and with it,
another address page.
Businesses joined
in the numbers game
with web sites to add
to my bursting book.

This growing collection
of letters and numbers
is supposed to make
my life a breeze.
But it's burying me
with overabundance!



Rae Turnbull
Friend of the Family Features
Copyright 2003





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