Fly With the Mourning Dove is an exceptional example of creative nonfiction. that reads like a novel. It is my honor to showcase it today on her "Blog Book Tour."
Fly With the Mourning Dove
by Velda Brotherton
by Velda Brotherton
In this, my ninetieth year, I've returned once again to the New Mexico ranch I'll forever call home. To this day, I get a thrill out of topping the hill between the sagebrush flats and the Tusas River valley. In the early light of dawn, the adobe house waits in the shadows far below, and I hurry to reach it, the car's tires clattering over the wooden bridge that spans the Tusas river. I park, get out and move through the yard. Over the Sangre de Cristos, the sky is splashed with a brilliant glow that spreads crimson over the mountains. In my valley the darkness retreats, stirs a breeze that touches my cheek. If I turn from the rising sun, quickly and without warning, I see those who've left me behind--Mom and Pop, my one and only love Calvin and our precious Ann. The shimmering morning light offers them, real and alive, their laughter echoing across the San Juans far to the west. A high desert painting where shades of ochre contrast sharply with dense umbers. The mournful song of the doves and the chatter of swallows swooping in to deposit small dabs of mud beneath the eaves of the stucco house, speak of another time. A time when my world was young and filled with hope. Every spring I come home to cook my breakfast on the wood cookstove and eat on the porch and watch the elk drink from the snow melt of the river. Drawn back year after year by forever memories, leaving behind that little tin can of a trailer down in Espanola for sanctuary at the only place I've ever called home. Now a deserted ranch where no one but ghosts live. Where cattle graze the high pastures, raising their heads to glimpse spirit riders as they pass.
The sun climbs higher, the sloping porch roof casts a cool shadow that makes me hug myself and shiver. I breathe in the fragrance of desert air, spiced with pinon smoke from the cookstove and the spring blooming chamisa, the sage and blue-balled juniper. And remember the beginning.
The year is rapidly spinning away. Someday when I get big, I am going to buy a big rock on the coast of the Pacific. Or maybe Cabo San Lucas, where I can sit and listen to the surf hour after hour. Or maybe I'll settle for a fast moving stream and falls. Or maybe perfect stillness at a perfect sunset. Now where shall I put the sunset? Over Tusas peaks? A North Dakota prairie? Into the Pacific.? Over a snow-filled San Luis valley?
Sunset and the evening star. I like to think of stars as those who have gone before. They give me a warm feeling of those watching over me as I will watch when my time comes with that one clear call for me.
There's Calvin, that bright one yonder. He twinkles a lot. I know his pain is gone. And we had a good life. Two darling girls completed our family. His strength and wonderful sense of humor probably carried him through 22 years of pain that tied him to a wheelchair after the war took his legs. He fought long and hard, but I lost him in 1967. I never remarried, for no other man could ever suit me.
We had bought the Sewell place on the Tusas below Dad's. And that is where I go when I long to visit the past.
And that small star nearby Calvin's. That's our firstborn, our sweet Annie. She lost her own battle with death after becoming a wife and mother. I smile remembering the way Mom insisted on being in the labor room when she was born. Making sure everything went all right. And how she insisted on naming our little doll Catherine Ann, after her. Mom became as much a mother to her as I was. I always joked with Mom that if she didn't have someone to take care of she wasn't happy. I believe she was more of a mother than I ever was.
She's that star looking over Annie's shoulder, making sure she's all right even today. We lost Mom in 1973, Pop and I. As is often the case, Pop's care giver wore out before her patient. Pop was a gentle, soft spoken man who made friends slowly, but those he made he kept. Pop, who fought TB to a standstill back in the days when that wasn't easy . . . well, he's up there too, following Mom three years later and twinkling at her side in the night sky.
My God is really close to me, but not always found in church. I find him in the perfection of color and design of a flower, a blazing sunrise, a baby's smile, the rocks and colors of the Moab country. A starry, snowy night, a good friend's understanding, and in certain music, the ocean surf and on and on.
Churches, yes, I have felt him in a little church in Puerta Penasco, where the members had no benches, but knelt on the floor. In the little log school house where we used to go to sing the old songs and spend the day in good fellowship. In the little Catholic church in North Dakota, the incense, the Latin service, in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City, the music there.
I have searched many places to find a church I could belong to, but always something stops me. I must keep going for I admire deeply all those who can give themselves to one belief saying this is it. This is mine. I try only to live by the Golden Rule: do unto others, and the Indian motto: Don't judge others until you have walked in their moccasins. So my God dwells within me, not Catholic, Presbyterian or Buddhist, but in my soul.
It doesn't matter where I go or what I do or what is done to me, I can derive peace and happiness from the smell of sage, the quiet of a pinon forest, the beauty of the blue balled juniper. In the laughter of my grandchildren, both Annie's and Linda's. Ah, my Linda. Pop bought a ranch in Antonito, Colorado in 1945, where he could raise feed crops and graze the cattle during the winter. Linda and her husband Pat run that ranch, but I still keep my nose in things. So I have the ranches, and my lovely daughter and son-in-law and my grandchildren.
And so long as we have glorious sunsets and God gives us a new day make the best of it. Why look in the gutter when stars are overhead?
All my life has been packed away in little boxes.
My dad came home from the hospital. He gave me a wooden box he had made in therapy. I was twelve and my box went with me wherever I went. I lost the bracelet, my friends changed to lovers, my gloves wore and were discarded, as were the lovers, who were replaced by my husband.
His letters from war fields then filled that box. Other big boxes were acquired to hold all the things that make a home, wedding presents packed away for five years; on his return letters were replaced by the little box of keepsakes made by two precious little girls.
The big boxes served a busy in and out storage life for twenty years. Then a bigger box claimed life and all that was left were papers in safety deposit boxes. Memorial books and cards to be put in small boxes to be kept in the big storage boxes that contained all that was left of a home.
The little wooden box still goes with me - treasures may change, the box is solid like the ties of my family.
To read all that is in between the prologue and epilogue be sure and buy the book! Below is information on how to do that as well as her "back-in-print" novel, Images In Scarletbook.
To order Fly With the Mourning Dove: http://www.tinyurl.com/5j66c2
To read the first chapters: http://www.tinyurl.com/63ftxd
To Order Images in Scarlet: http://www.tinyurl.com/3eu5n5
To read the first chapters: http://www.tinyurl.com/63qwo7
Be sure and check out all the blogs that have featured Velda on her blog tour!
July 21 -- http://emilybryan.wordpress.com An Interview with the author
July 22 -- http://suzannewoodsfisher.blogspot.com History of photography
July 23 -- http://marshaward.blogspot.com Writing the Historical fiction/nonfiction
July 24 -- http://gwynramsey.blogspot.com History of Women in Photography
July 25 -- http://www.riehlife.com A photo array of New Mexico
July 26 -- http://vbrotherton.blogspot.com Where Do Ideas Come From?
July 27 -- Sunday Take the day off
July 28 -- http://marynidasmith.blogspot.com Dance at the Sagebrush Inn, Taos
July 29 -- http://lindacapple.blogspot.com Edna's story/Fly With The Mourning Dove
July 30 -- http://westernhistoricalhappenings.blogspot.com John Dunn Entrepreneur of New Mexico
July 31 -- http://communityoftheland.blogspot.com Interview with the author
Until next time, May God Bless You Bunches!
Until next time, May God Bless You Bunches!