This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Nana

My grandmother was born in Jamaica, Vermont in 1903. The house where she was born is still standing and when I pointed it out to college friends on our way back to school one weekend, Abby from the city said, "Who do you think you're kidding? People are born in hospitals, not HOUSES!" Well, not in Vermont in 1903!
Nana was the daughter of a "dirt poor farmer" and she married a "dirt poor farmer" and when I say "dirt poor," I mean that in the fullest sense of the expression! If there was food on the table, they'd either grown it or hunted and killed it. Nana learned to plant a garden, grow the veggies and cook and/or can them. She made her own butter and cottage cheese and could soften a feed sack so that it could then be taken apart and made into clothing. My mother still remembers the time that her hand-made underpants fell down around her ankles when she was 6 or 7 years old! The teacher called her to the front of the class and the underpants - having been handed down thru 2 older sisters and stretched out from too many washings - let go and fell to the floor!! Because she was in a one room school house, literally the entire school saw Phyllis's undies that day!
By the time I was born, my grandparents had given up farming. My grandfather worked in a lumber mill and as the maintenance man at the local hospital and Nana was a seamstress for Mary Meyer stuffed toys - she sewed their prototypes which were then passed on to me! From early childhood right thru high school, I spent most weekends with Nana and Grandpa. My Aunt Marion would drive up from Hartford, CT each Friday afternoon and because she had no children of her own, would stop at our house and pick me up. Off we'd go for a weekend of fried chicken, homemade baked beans and apple pie, pancakes, bacon, Scrabble games, and the Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller shows. Does anyone else remember "Sing Along With Mitch?" Aunt Marion and I would sing along with gusto!!
One of my favorite memories, tho, was accompanying Nana to the clothes line every morning and afternoon. The line was too high to reach while standing on the ground so my grandfather built a set of steps. Nana would stand on the top and I'd sit with the basket of clothespins in my lap and hand her the pins. I loved sitting there in the peace and quiet with the sun shining down on us, Toby the dog dozing beside the steps. The squeak of the line as Nana sent it out or reeled it in seemed a fitting accompaniment to the gentle sounds around us........blue jays, the wind in the trees, the burble of the brook next to us................And nothing can beat the smell of sheets that have been dried in the sun and the wind. To this day - and sometimes to my embarrassment - I find myself bringing in my own sheets and just standing on the kitchen steps and sniffing them......
After I got married and moved away from my family, Nana, Aunt Marion and I used write each other letters every Monday. No matter where I was living, Monday was devoted to those letters. We talked about mundane things.......weather (very important if you're from a farming background), what we'd watched on TV, what we did during the week, the price of groceries. Those letters were treasured and I waited for them each week. Nana and I began having a little "contest" when I finally moved into my own house. We tried to see who would be the first to hang out their wash every spring! I don't think I ever "beat" her!
When Nana was 91, she finally had to give up living alone. My mom and her sister cleaned out the house and called to ask me if there was anything I wanted to keep. I told them, "Yes! I want the Scrabble game, the clothespin basket, and the Santa cookie tin with all the broken crayons." (My daughters had passed many an hour at Nana's coloring pictures with those crayons!) To my dismay, my mother told me all those things had just gone into the dumpster!!! I told her, "Well, then, GO IN AND GET THEM OUT!" LOL And she did! I still have that basket and it now holds my clothespins. I lose a little more of it each year as it becomes brittle and the handle falls apart but it's in good shape considering it's almost as old as I am!
The year after Nana died, when I hung out the first load of laundry that spring, the feeling of sadness was so over-whelming, it left me breathless. I realized that I couldn't call her or phone her to say, "Ha ha! I FINALLY beat ya!" Being a writer, I decided to put my feelings down on paper and for the first time ever, I'm ready to share that with others. I hope you enjoy my poem.................

"On The First Warm Day of Spring"
by Karleen Hayden

On the first warm day of spring
I miss my grandmother the most
And long for the letter that will never come,
Telling me that the tulips are up beside the house
And brilliantly red this year.
That she turned over the earth in the garden today
And hopes to get the peas planted tomorrow
And was so pleased to hang out the wash for the first time
Since last fall. Did I get my wash hung out today
On the first warm day of spring?
My hand grasps the handle of the old wicker basket
And I marvel at how it fit my hand when I was 3
And 10 and 16 and that it fits me still at 54,
My grandmother's clothespin basket.
I carried it to the clothes line for her
On the first warm days of spring.
They cleaned out my grandmother's house when she died
And threw the clothespin basket into the dumpster.
I made my mother climb in and rescue it.
I knew that I would need it
On the first warm day of spring.
I clip the clothespins onto the line and send the white sheet sailing
Out, out into the sunshine, reaching up and up for a moment,
Waving to my grandmother on the first warm day of spring.


  1. I sniff sheets, too.

    And we had the "Sing Along with Mitch" LPs that had lyric sheets that came with them. I don't remember the TV show, but I do remember the King Family specials.

  2. What a beautiful story, Karleen. You do write well!