Launch of Splash, Slither, Squark  by Colleen Keating

 

A very special Zoom Launch today of  Splash, Slither, Squark 
the Society of Women Writers NSW 95th anniversary anthology of nature writing for children.

‘Curiouser and curiouser  it seems to me is the gift we need to give our children and grandchildren.

Curiosity leads to awe and wonder. 
When one has a sense of awe and wonder about nature, about a tree, a river, about flora and fauna one will care for them. 

Anything that creates this in the heart of a child has a chance of being seen as precious. This new book ‘Splash,Slither, Squark, which will go to school libraries will be a step towards this value.

 Sales of this book will help support RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal and Wombat Care Bundanoon.  Many thanks to co-editors Michele Bomford and Julie Thorndyke .

I am proud to have a poem, Platypus spotting is fun  and a short story about wonder when lost in the bush.

So proud the illustration of the platypus on the opposite page  to my poem is by my grandson Thomas with 2  further illustrations by grandchildren Edison chosen and the youngest illustrator Miss Eleanor .

 

ISBN  978-0-9808407-5-9 RRP  $20 https://womenwritersnsw.org/

Credit Card or PayPal: https://www.trybooking.com/BKXWO

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick for Winter-time – a fable

Frederick for a Winter time.

 

Some of you might know the story of Frederick
the field mouse accused of sitting about
day-dreaming, watching and listening
not sharing the tasks of preparing for winter
while his family filled every minute
hurried here and there to busy themselves
storing berries and nuts
for the long season they would bear

and how Frederick garnered
the warmth of the sun the wind in the air
for winter is so freezingly cold, stale and bare
and how he saved the colours of the day
for winters can be so long, so drab and grey
and how he gathered words that uplift the spirit

and how in the stark days of winter
most of the food had been eaten
and gossip and all the funny stories
had become threadbare
and they anxiously turned to Frederick
for sustenance
during the last cruel days before spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so Frederick asked them to close their eyes
and with his words his voice his magic
from stirrings deep within
they felt warmth the air scented
with their treasured aromas
and they saw the colours of flowers and trees
rainbows and flying birds
enduring brush strokes on their mind

and how when Frederick had finished
they all applauded –

but Frederick
they exclaimed
you are a poet

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’.

 

 

And for those of you still reading here is the story translated fom the fable.

Frederick    by Leo Lionni

 

All along the meadow 

where the cows grazed and the horses ran, 

there was an old stone wall.

In that wall

not far from the barn and the granary, 

a chatty family of field mice

had their home.

But the farmers had moved away,

the barn was abandoned,

and the granny stood empty.

And since winter was not far off,

the little mice began to gather corn and nuts 

and wheat and straw. 

They all worked day and night .

All – except Frederick. 

Frederick, why don’t you work?  they asked

I do work, said Frederick,

I gather sun rays 

for the old dark winter days.

And when they saw Frederick sitting there, 

staring at the meadow 

they said,  and now Frederick?

I gather colours, answered Frederick simply.

For winter is grey.

And once Frederick seemed half asleep,

Are you day-dreaming Frederick? 

They asked reproachfully. But Frederick said, 

Oh no I am gathering words 

for the winter days are long and many

and we’ll run out of things to say?.

The winter days came, 

and when the first snow fell

the five little field mice 

took to their hideout in the stones.

In the beginning there was lots to eat,

and the mice told stories 

of foolish foxes and silly cats.

They were a happy family.

But little by little they had nibbled up 

most of the nuts and berries,

 the straw was gone 

and the corn was only a memory.

It was cold in the wall 

and no one felt like chatting.

Then they remembered

what Frederick had said 

about sun rays and colours and words.

What about your supplies Frederick ! they asked 

Close your eyes, said Frederick,

as he climbed on a big stone,

Now I send you the rays of the sun

Do you feel their golden glow?

And as Frederick spoke of the sun

the four little mice 

began to feel warmer.

Was it Frederick’s voice ? Was it magic?

And how about the colours Frederick?

they asked anxiously ,

Close your eyes again, Frederick said,

And then he told them 

of the blue periwinkles

the red poppies

in the yellow wheat 

and the green leaves of the berry bush.

They saw the colours as clearly 

as if they had been painted in their minds 

And the words Frederick?

Frederick cleared his throat,

waited a moment,

and then, as if from a stage, he said: 

Who scatters snowflakes? who melts the ice? 

Who spoils the weather? Who makes it nice? 

Who grows the four-leaf clovers in June? 

dims the daylight? Who lights the moon?

Four little field mice who live in the sky

Four little field mice . . like you and I. 

One is the Springmouse  who turns on the showers

Then comes the Summer who paints in the flowers

The Fallmouse is next with walnuts and wheat 

And Winter is last . . . with little cold feet.

Aren’t we lucky the seasons are four 

Think of a year with one less . . or one more

When Frederick had finished,

they all applauded.

                       But Frederick,

                                     they said

                                                  you are a poet. 

Frederick blushed, took a bow, and said shyly, ‘I know it’ 

 

 

 

 

Below is Thomas our young poet, this spring, March  2020 (Northern Hemisphere)

sitting in his cherry tree  in his own yard, reading Frederick. So proud of him.

 

Thomas a poem :Canterbury Cathedral

 

 

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Thomas Keating-Jones  . . . Poet

 

POEMS FROM OUR JOURNEY TO CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL

BY

THOMAS KEATING-JONES

 

 

 

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The Glimmering Windows

The windows are bright and colourful
You can make out the story
following the pictures that you find.

Details show the past is there.
The candles flicker
when you put in your prayer.

It is ready to keep it
and send it to God.

 

 

 

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The Prayer song

by

Thomas Keating-Jones

 

The people are singing,

the whole cathedral is filled
with beautiful music and prayers.

It stopped me .
My body could hear
the beautiful notes that they sing.

It caught my ear
and I started singing
without even knowing
that I was joining in

a prayer song.

 

 

 

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People have been coming on pilgrimages to Canterbury for centuries and today’ our adventure was a pilgrimage, well a drive and picnic to see Canterbury Cathedral with the family. It is of course famous for the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and referenced by Charles Dickens and then Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot to name a few.

It is one of the oldest and most famous  Christian structures in England. Foundered in 597 AD  and rebuilt and blessed in 1070 AD. It was originaly a Benedictine monastic community. Its architecture is breath-taking.

A pivotal moment in its history was the murder of Thomas Becket,  Archbishop to Henry 2nd He received 4 stabs to the back by 4 knights of  the King,  just after dawn at the first Mass  of the day 29th December 1170,

 

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To continue my pilgrimage with Hildegard of Bingen and my continuing research for my book . . . It was in 1170 that Hildegard received word in Bingen of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket . She heard of his holiness and courage and his murder via artisans travelling for work. It energised her to rise up for one last missionary journey and travel to Cologne to lecture once more against greed and corruption and power of the Church.

Sound familiar ?

What’s changed?

Hildegard has given her life to make us listen and see. She was in her 70 ‘s and  her body was tired but she set out one last time to warn people to listen to the Light .  For me the Canterbury cloisters being around 12th century caught my attention because the cloisters of Hildegard’s Church were destroyed in the Thirty Year War in the 14th century and over the centuries little is left to imagine.

 

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Now I kneel at the altar where the murder took place and reflect on this sculpture of suffering above. The black metal fluted cross and the swords hanging from the wounds and shadowed on the wall behind is very compelling.

Below the altar in the paved stones is the word Thomas.

Today it is appropriate to have my grandson Thomas sitting on the paved stone near me with his fingers curving through the printed words  Thomas.

 

 

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We together light a candle and Thomas closes his eyes and prays. I didn’t try to eavesdrop his whispered mumbling, except his last words came louder  and thank you for the world . Amen “ 

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