Have you heard about our Author of the Month Display? Each month, our very own Bonnie conducts careful research and compiles a collection of facts and highlights to honor a different author each month. This month, I’m handing the post to Bonnie to share with you this monthly gem. Enjoy!
Hello, my name is Bonnie. You might have seen me at the front desk checking out your items or fiddling with the Author of the Month display, which is what I’m here to talk to you about today. This month we are honoring Larry McMurtry, known most notably for his 843 page response to the overly romanticized Old West genre titled: Lonesome Dove.
Born in Wichita Falls in 1936, and raised in Archer City, TX, Larry McMurtry spent his earliest years on his grandfather’s ranch where he learned to ride at age three and herd cattle by age four. There were no books in the house until McMurtry’s older cousin enlisted in WWII and left him 19 boys’ adventure stories. He soon became a voracious reader: using books as a means to escape the mundane.
McMurtry earned his B.A. from University of North Texas in 1958 and his M.A. from Rice University in 1960. His first book, Horseman, Pass By, was published in 1961 after he completed the Stanford University writing program. McMurtry was not expecting the book to be successful but was surprised when the novel was adapted into the film titled Hud (1963), propelling his career as a writer and screenwriter.
“Writing is a form of herding. I herd words into little paragraph-like structures.” ― Larry McMurtry
McMurtry’s works mostly take place in Texas, accurately portraying both the beauty and harsh loneliness of the landscape and its effects on human nature. He often explores the theme of new orders supplanting the old in his fictional works. Additionally, McMurtry has written several personal memoirs and books on the American Old West.
McMurtry has won:
Writer’s Guild of America award and Golden Globe for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2006.
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1986 and Spur Award for best Western Novel in 1985.
Spur Award for Best Novel of the West in 1998.
“Great readers (are) those who know early that there is never going to be time to read all there is to read, but do their darnedest anyway. ” — Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond
Amidst meeting deadlines for countless writing projects, McMurtry still has found time to pursue his hobby of book collecting, keeping a collection of around 28,000 books in his private library in his hometown of Archer City, TX.
McMurtry also owns a second-hand bookstore business called Booked Up Inc. located in Archer City as well.
Thankfully you don’t have to drive all the way to Texas to read one of Mr. McMurtry’s books. Just swing on by the library and pick one up. (They’re on display by the front, main entrance.) But if you do feel like taking the trip, don’t forget:
“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” — Larry McMurtry, In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas
P.S. Check out Bonnie’s new display every month on the shelf directly to your right as you enter the library!
Hi, this is Ivy, your friendly librarian staff member who hides in the backroom during the day and emerges in the evening to serve the nice patrons who just got off from work! This was a year of firsts and experimentations during our summer reading program:
On a personal level, this was the first year that I didn’t sit and hand out as many prizes as I have in the past. So even though I wasn’t as actively participating in the summer reading program, that doesn’t mean I didn’t see the great and wonderful things that were happening! I guess you can think of me as the fly on the wall observing all aspects of the summer’s activities.
I know from experience that the reward in seeing the children and parents participating first hand in the summer reading program is one of the things that makes the summer great for us as staff members. You can ask any of us, and we can tell you without a doubt that YOU – our patrons – made this Library ROCK!
It’s an exciting time of year because we get to see so many of our wonderful families who might not be able to participate in library programs as much during the school year.
We had Monday Movies, Family Events on Tuesday evenings,Wednesday Preschool Storytime with Ms. Julia, two Thursday Preschool Storytimes with Ms. Melody, two Thursday Elementary programs with our program coordinator, Ms. Delilah, and our Young Adult Program with Ms. Leah.
On top of our regular weekly programs, we had adult programs led by other great staff members: Ms. Valerie, Ms. Dolores, and Ms. Stephanie, and many passive programs that the patrons could casually participate in. That’s a lot of involved staff members and volunteers!
Speaking of which I think we need to acknowledge our awesome volunteers and give them a round of applause! We have the best volunteers, and our programs wouldn’t have been as much of a success without them. They have done everything from helping shelve books, to prepping for programs, to actually performing programs. They have also been there to take reading logs and to give you prizes during our Tuesday Family Events. They are a kind, caring, and smiling bunch of people that have helped put our minds at ease knowing that the patrons and programs are being well cared for.
This was our first year trying out the beginning and ending celebrations on a Saturday in hopes of having the working parent be able to also participate and have fun with their children.This was also the reason we had Tuesday Family events in the evening this year.
The beginning celebration was held at the library with crafts, face painting, snow cones, karaoke, a traveling magician, and bouncy house inflatables. And our ending celebration was held at the very fun, and always awesome, Siloam Springs Family Aquatic Center. There were a lot swimming concessions, and prizes. Lots of prizes! This was also where we honored the top readers of all the age groups, and every child that read 3 hours or more during the summer received a congratulatory certificate and prize.
However, the summer reading program isn’t just about all the great programs we try to provide, but it is also about the reader! Whether you are a beginning reader, an unsure reader, or avid reader, the summer reading program is to celebrate you.
This is the part that the staff members truly love about the summer reading program. Sometimes we see a child that is struggling to read finally click with the reading bug during the summer, and we want to be right there with that family and rejoice with them. One mom came in in July and said she could tell her daughter’s reading had improved over the summer as they’d been involved in summer reading!
Another parent shared that their daughter wasn’t sure she even wanted to do summer reading, but after getting involved, she didn’t want to give her books back to the Library – she liked them so much. Those kind of comments make our hearts sing!
During August, we will be taking a break from programming, but we will resume our regular weekly activities the day after Labor Day.
We also have a very special reading helper, Dusty the Therapy Dog, who comes in once a month and would love to be read to by the children of the library for Reading with Dusty the Therapy Dog. If your child is struggling to find motivation to read, or is wanting a non-judgmental reading companion, Dusty is here to help.
A special thank you, again, to all of the people that made this year’s Summer Reading Program a success; but most importantly, thank youreaders for reading with us and sharing your summer with us. Congratulations on another summer reading program! Oh, and join us next year on an adventure into space with A Universe of Stories, which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first space walk on the moon.
Until your friendly librarian staff member emerges again,
If you’re looking for a good read this summer, Anne Patchett’s Bel Canto deserves a spot on your list. The fictional story is loosely based on the events of the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in which a group of terrorists in Peru took hundreds of hostages for over four months beginning in December 1996. Patchett presents a riveting account of relationships formed and human insights found in the most unlikely of circumstances: a terrorist capture.
Mr. Hosokawa is the guest of honor at a party in a small, impoverished country that desperately needs the economic boost his huge electronics corporation could bring. However, a foreign investment is far from Mr. Hosokawa’s mind. He came for the guest entertainment: a world renowned opera singer named Roxane Coss. The party becomes a hostage situation when terrorists invade the vice-president’s home.
At first, panic expresses itself in Spanish, Japanese, Russian, English and French. Wealthy businessmen and foreign dignitaries find themselves suddenly uncertain of their survival. As days turn into weeks though, unexpected bonds begin to form across countries, languages and political agendas. Music and relationship give voice to the human soul within hostage and captor alike.
Ann Patchett drew me in with her compelling characters, her poignant insights into the human heart, and her gentle-yet-brutal reminder of the oppression that power and class can induce. The action is low-impact but the emotion, personality and sagacity kept me gripped.
As a bonus, I got to enjoy Bel Canto with the morning book club at our library. I asked Donna, a member of the group, to chime in about this must-read. She says,
“I have read this wonderful book three times, and hope to read it even again. In the story, the characters are held fugitive by a small band of revolutionaries. The are frightened, angry, uncertain of their futures but are calmed, even sustained, by the singing of the captive soprano in their midst. An opera singer must practice every day and her singing becomes the high point, indeed, the focal point of their many days as hostages.
Patchett’s characters are so real, so vulnerable, so human, that we care about the captors as well as the hostages. You will hurry to read the last page to learn the ending. But Bel Canto will stay with you for a long time: like a beautiful song.”
You’re invited to more great reads like this one at our adult book clubs every month. Clubs meet the second Monday of every month at 7:00pm and the third Tuesday of every month at 11am. The Monday group’s book will be Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo to be discussed on August 13th. The Tuesday group will be reading Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg to be discussed on August 21st. We’d love to have you! Get a book while supplies last and sign up at the Library front desk.
A good novel is full of surprises. If the Library were a novel, Valerie would be one of those surprises: the unexpected plot twist that first throws you off and then makes you laugh and then touches your heart.
At first, you will love Valerie for her playfully straight-faced humor. And don’t worry, she can take it just as well as she generously gives it out. But if all you know is Valerie’s quirky sense of humor, you’ve missed out. While Valerie may be the first person to make a snarky remark, she’s also the first person to give you a handmade card when you experience a loss. She recognizes the hard places that life brings to each of us, and invites laughter to soften the sting.
Valerie also knows how to celebrate. Birthdays are better with one of Valerie’s detailed cards. And she’s going to share her know-how at our Music Paper Craft event this month, Thursday, July 19th at 5:30 in Library Meeting room A. You can make your own greeting card out of sheet music! Her card making hobby evolved from a love of scrap booking, which incidentally, also comes in handy at the Library where Valerie maintains our Library scrapbook. Valerie’s finesse for all things crafty extends to library displays as well. She is also an avid gardener and a member of the Primavera Garden Club in our community. AND she makes a mean zucchini bread among other tasty treats.
Valerie grew up in New York, where she learned to adore Italian food. As an adult, she moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia and raised two daughters. When her youngest daughter started kindergarten, she started working in the Library system. She worked for the Virginia Beach Library for over twenty years, possibly serving such distinguished patrons as Pharrell Williams, author of the popular song, “Happy.” If there’s one thing we’re happy about though, it’s that one of Valerie’s daughters moved to Fayetteville, because that’s what brought Valerie to Siloam Springs.
When I asked Valerie what inspires her to keep working at the Library, she said, “The customers and co-workers─seeing all of the children grow up and still utilize the library. They are all our future. Reading may have changed over the years with e-books and other electronic devices, but reading is still a part of all of our education and life is a learning experience.” You can see Valerie live out these words as she walks into a Library
program hand-in-hand with her granddaughter.
And now, for some fun facts!
Favorite Meal: Italian food. Growing up in New York─the best foods. My children loved my eggplant parmesan, the grandchildren love my garlic bread.
Favorite color: Pink
Vision for the Library in ten years: Will I still be alive in ten years?!
Ideal Saturday: My ideal day would be on a beach somewhere.
Currently Reading: The Sound of Glass by Karen White, and Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (with my granddaughter every time she spends the night).
Valerie is as irreplaceable to our Library as your favorite plot twist in a novel. She brightens and betters the Library with her humor, intricate crafts, care for people and love for life. Sure, you can count on her to tease you mercilessly if say, you forgot your lunch one day (not that I’ve ever done that), but when life throws a curve ball, you can also count on Valerie to be there for you─with lots of love and humor in tow. Till next time,
Do you have a favorite book? The books you love say something about who you are. Maybe it says something about what you love, or what captures your imagination, or what you think is important. Books can say a lot about a nation as well.
PBS has created a unique series that will explore what our favorite books collectively say about our nation. After an extensive survey and consulting a team of experts, PBS compiled a list of 100 books that provide the basis for this mini-series (starting in September). Readers (like YOU) can then vote on your favorite book(s) from the whole list. The show will look at shared threads between books on the list, provide interesting historical information, and feature celebrities and readers throughout the nation.
The book list varies significantly in literary style, characters and time period. It takes us back to the 1600s, where John Bunyan leads us on an allegorical journey through peril and redemption in The Pilgrim’s Progress. It shows us the too-long-hidden struggle of African Americans in the 1960s with Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. It journeys to the dystopian future of George Orwell’s 1984 and its commentary on our present reality. We’ll re-enter a world in the turmoil of World War II and a young boy in the throes of adolescence in John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. It’s the simple eloquence of Anne of Green Gables, the tragic glory of Wuthering Heights. It’s mystery and romance and philosophy. It’s the old and the new and the what-might-be. You can hear the heart and mind of American readers resonating with the diverse themes and stories. It’s the Great American Read.
You can pick up a hard copy of the book list (complete with check-boxes) at the library. It’s not just a great booklist though. The Great American Read is also a search for America’s favorite book, and YOU can weigh in. There are currently two ways to vote for your favorite book. The first way is to go to The Great American Read voting page on their website. The second way is to post on Facebook or Twitter using the official hashtag for your specific book. The hashtag for each book on the list is found HERE. For example, if Anne of Green Gables is your jam, you could vote by posting something like this on Facebook:
“Cried all over again reading Anne of Green Gables #VOTEGables.” That “#VOTEGables” is the key to casting your vote.
The full PBS series will air on September 11 of this year. Once the show begins, you will also be able to vote through phone calls and texts. Voting ends on October 18th and the winner will be announced in the last show of the series.
And guess where you can pick up almost all of those 100 books?? It’s a little place I like to call…the Siloam Springs Public Library. That’s right! You’ll find them with a little green sticker on our front display shelf (Note: if your favorite read is a series, only the first book will be displayed). Don’t be fooled though, those books aren’t for show, they’re for reading!! So read something new or pick up an old favorite and cast your vote.
The Arkansas Summer is upon us! Personally, I plan to increase my ice cream consumption, spend time with people I love, and go on an adventure or two! If you’re like me, summer can make you feel like trying something new. But where to start? What to try?
How about a new hobby like cake decorating, photography or candle making? Maybe you’re more practical and you want to work more efficiently by improving your Excel skills, or work more effectively by improving your interpersonal communication skills. Maybe you’re a homeschool parent and you want to brush up on your geometry before next year.
Now, yes, you could read a book, and─of course─I would never discourage that…but wouldn’t it be great if you had a real teacher? And other students to bounce ideas off of?
Universal class is an online venue for continuing education classes. From bread baking to ancient myths, assertiveness training to industrial psychology─Universal Class offers almost every subject you can think of. Normally, these classes cost about $75 each, but if you have a library card, you get them ALL for FREE!!!
I’d like you to let that sink in for a moment.
And then there’s more.
These classes are legit. You do real homework that is graded by a real instructor. You will also have required quizzes and tests that must be passed before the next lesson can be “unlocked.” You are gonna do some real learning.
Do I get credit for these classes? Good question. While you do not get high school or college credit, you can receive “Continuing Education Units (CEU)” for over 500 of the classes.
What’s a CEU?? You might ask. A CEU is a way to measure education that is not your typical high school or college credit. If you work in nursing, engineering, or many other professional fields, you may be required to obtain a certain number of CEUs throughout your career. Only your specific company/industry can tell you what CEUs you need and where you can get them. And if you need specific credit, be sure Universal Class qualifies by talking to someone knowledgeable in your organization/educational institute. Universal classes do meet an official standard set by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
One of our very own library staff is currently working her way through the mythology courses and loving it! Her endorsement of the classes held a lot of weight with me because she is currently working on her second Masters degree. If someone can sniff out a good class, I imagine it’s her!
So how do you get to this treasure trove of knowledge?! You can find it on our library website, or simply click HERE. Enter your library card number and click the big, green “GO” button.
This is a call to our Young Adults. Yep, I’m talking to you, you crazy 7th grader, wising-up 8th grader, high-school-freshman 9th grader, budding-leader 10th grader, oldie 11th grader, and freaking-out-about-the-future 12th grader.
Did you know you are absolutely vital to keeping the Library relevant??
Without you, the Library starts to lose some of its power to help people. Why? Because you’re the ones who connect the Library to the world of 7th-12th graders. Now, I don’t want to be too dramatic but…if the Library can’t reach young adults, the Library can’t reach a new generation and then…the Library begins to die.
Kinda bad news, huh?
But it’s not all about what you can do for the Library, it’s also about what the Library can do for you! Studies show that people are better off when they read and when they form relationships with other people─two activities the Library is built on.
We know you’re busy: performing in plays, competing in sports, playing in bands and working a job. Not to mention friends, family and other responsibilities. It’s okay. We don’t want to replace those good things. We hope the Library will make all those things better, and that in turn, you’ll share your ideas, opinions, and skills with us.
Here are some ideas of what I mean:
We need you to tell us what you want to read and watch by requesting new books and movies. Did you know you can ask for any book or movie by filling out a form at the front desk? Our manager looks through every request carefully when it comes time to order new items. She wants your input!
Do you have ideas about Library programs for young adults? Do you want to be a part of keeping the Library in peak condition? Are you hoping to build your resume with volunteer hours? Consider joining YALL: the Young Adult Library League. The group begins August 2018, but you can get a jump-start over the summer by volunteering or meeting the staff! Drop by and ask to talk with Leah Humphrey or Delilah Williamson.
Enjoy a program
Want to learn more about a 5-foot instrument you’ve probably never heard of? Try out the upcoming “Didgeridoo” program. Would you like to make someone’s day? Help create a rock garden for people to take and leave personalized rocks. And if these don’t pique your interest, Leah Humphrey─the mastermind behind the YA programs─wants to hear about it. She says, “If my programs are not what you look forward too, let me know!” Leah is committed to tailoring her programs to what you want─so be creative and tell her your ideas.
There’s a lot that goes into keeping a Library running smoothly: from putting together summer reading prizes, to dusting shelves and shelving books, to face-painting on Summer Reading Kick-Off Day. We want you on our team. And, as Leah points out, “it looks great on a resume that you volunteered at a library. Besides that, our library is a great place to volunteer; we have great books, great staff, and a beautiful building that people love to visit.”
Yeah, I know. Obvious….But seriously, we have so many good books!!!!! Pick one up. If you don’t like it, pick another. Read outside. Read in the car. Read when your Aunt Gertrude is making caramelized brussel sprouts againnnn and she will ask you to help if you’re not doing something else!!!!
You get the idea.
Come to the Library. Your presence makes a difference.
She is kind, hard working, unassuming, and enjoys a good laugh. Her unexpected sarcasm entertains us all, while her commitment to excellence inspires trust. Meet Bonnie: deft with details, talented with technology, and gracious with people. Bonnie’s dedication to the Library is clear from her diligent work, but it goes much deeper than record-keeping and processing materials.
Even when she was a little kid, Bonnie tried to categorize her family’s collection of books. When she reached high school, Bonnie had to give a presentation on improving the local Library. She recalls, “that was the one time I ever felt comfortable, let alone had fun, speaking in front of the class.” Now, Bonnie works full time to improve the Library in our community.
Bonnie’s vision for the Library in ten years is “…to see the library become one of the first (or at least top five) places people think of when they want to find something to do. Whether you want to relax or have fun, the library has so many neat programs and services. Just thinking about how much our library has changed in the last three years makes me that much more excited to see how it will evolve in ten years.”
She wishes more people knew about all the services the Library already has to offer, saying, “You don’t have to be a book nerd to appreciate the free services we offer. There are fun programs for all ages, computer classes and tech assistance, online courses through Universal Class, access to thousands of online encyclopedias, magazines, and other research articles through Arkansas Traveler Database, digital magazines, eBooks, audiobooks, movies, and music. Our library possesses a wealth of free knowledge and entertainment, and I wish more people knew that.”
When I asked Bonnie to point to something that keeps her wanting to work at the Library, she said, “I’m inspired by the kindness of our patrons and the support of the staff. That kindness shows in those special moments when I get to connect with people, whether that be a friendly debate about which is the best movie, or sharing excitement about a new book, or in more serious moments, sharing someone’s pain over a loss, or joy for a new beginning.”
Relationships are a big motivator for Bonnie. While she is definitely motivated by “the feelings of purpose and accomplishment from getting things in order,” she also loves “the camaraderie among staff…The opportunity to share the love of books, music, and movies with the community. That warm feeling you get after being able to make a patron’s day brighter, or seeing a bunch of two-year-old’s run to a giant balloon sculpture of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, laughing in amazement.”
When she’s not at the Library, you might find Bonnie reading with a chihuahua named Daisy, exploring Crystal Bridges with a husband named Josh, or enjoying a homemade gourmet meal. Here are some fun facts about Bonnie:
Currently Reading: Currently, I’m in one of those moods when there’s “so many books, so little time”. I’m working on The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It’s hit a slower patch the last few books, but I’ve been told it picks up again towards the end of the series. I’m also reading Remarkable Books: A Celebration of the World’s Most Beautiful and Historic Works, which has been incredibly exciting, looking over the gorgeous calligraphy and intricate illumination. I’m also reading The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré since he is the next Author of the Month.
Favorite quote: With people like “…Bob Hope, um, Abraham Lincoln, definitely. Bono, uh and probably God…” [The Office], there’s too many great quotes out there to choose.
Favorite Meal: Manicotti with lots of cheese and my dad’s marinara sauce with a side of my mom’s spinach dip and Granny’s Cherry Salad. Dessert would be Sweetheart Trifle and dark chocolate ice-cream with chocolate brownie bits and homemade Oops-I-accidentally-added-too-much-cocoa Chocolate Sauce. Ooo! Also, coffee gelato. Drinks would be cherry lemonade or Cherry/Vanilla Coke (depending on how much water I may or may not have drank that day).
Favorite color: Blue
Ideal Saturday: If I’m in an introvert mood, my ideal day would be spent in my P.J.’s with my chihuahua, Daisy, drinking way too much coffee and reading, watching T.V., cross-stitching, or whatever creative impulse happens to strike my fancy. If I’m in a more adventurous mood, my ideal day would be to visit Crystal Bridges with my husband, Josh, and then stop by Barnes and Noble to look at the leather notebooks and Harry Potter fan merchandise, and of course, the books! We would definitely get ice cream somewhere and watch a movie later.
With her love for people, her quick wit and her technical savvy, Bonnie’s genuine heart and talent make our Library a richer, warmer and more efficient place.
During my first weeks working at the library, a mother in our community shared that her kids’ reading levels had gone up, and she believed that our summer reading program had encouraged that. Summer reading matters. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that reading over the summer makes kids better readers. But just in case you aren’t convinced, about Library Summer Reading Programs, I did a little research for ya. The full info for my research is at the end of this blog, but here’s some fast facts from Joe Matthews, a writer for the Public Library Association:
Socioeconomic level plays little to no role in reading advancement when school is in session, but during the summer a gap can occur.
The reading level was more advanced among kids who participated in SRPs (Summer Reading Programs) than among kids who didn’t.
I found even more convincing evidence in an article from The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. It explains a study of rising fourth graders in 2008 in which students were tested in reading before and after the summer. Guess whose scores were higher at the end of the summer? You guessed it! The kids who did SRP. Parents of summer reading participants also felt that their kids were more ready to start school in the fall. And listen to what their teachers had to say: students who participated in SRP
“started the school year ready to learn;
had improved reading achievement
appeared to have increased reading enjoyment
were more motivated to read
were more confident in the classroom
read beyond what was required; and
perceived reading as important” (pg. 30)
Okay, okay, but what do real momssay about SRP at our Library?
Amanda, a JBU professor and mother of three says this about summer reading:
“It provides great incentives for steady reading throughout the summer. It also gives us multiple things to do. I’ve really appreciated how much the Library provides for kids in the summer. There’d be a big gap if the library wasn’t there.”
Amanda also loves being able to count the time her kids spend listening to audiobooks in the car.
Leah, a home school mom of 5 kids, ages 5-12, loves that summer reading is something all her kids can enjoy and also appreciates that reading aloud “counts” in the reward system. She says:
“I like that it incentivizes kids to want to read. They look forward to the little prizes. It’s just fun!”
There you have it, real research and real moms say, “Libraries Rock!” And that’s our summer reading theme this year! Plus, SRP is more than just reading. Grab your air guitar and get ready to rock at our schedule of summer events. Our playlist includes a ventriloquist, musical performances, awesome DIY crafts, stories, and more! Make the library your jam this summer to have fun AND nurture that gray matter.
We think YOU rock and we can’t wait to grow together this summer.
The fun begins at the Library on Saturday, June 2 at 10am.
See you this summer!
Wanna read the research for yourself? Check out Joe Matthews’ article “Evaluating Summer Reading Programs: Suggested Improvements”, published on Public Libraries Online. And “Do Public Library Summer Reading Programs Close the Achievement Gap?” on page 27-31 of this issue of The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children found here: file:///C:/Users/staff/Downloads/45-64-1-PB%20(3).pdf
We are excited to feature our Writing Contest winners on this post! It was a privilege to read each essay responding to the prompt, “How has the weather affected you?” Thanks to all our writers who invested their creativity and to the Siloam Springs Writers Guild for their partnership and advice throughout the whole process.
Enjoy our adult winner’s piece by Rachel C. Kulp. Rachel was awarded a year-long membership in the Siloam Springs Writers Guild and a gift bag from DaySpring.
Feeling Weather’s Wrath by Rachel C. Kulp
“Come on, Mom, I want you to see the blue Caribbean.” We had just arrived at Tela-by-the-Sea in Honduras. My daughter was a school teacher in Honduras and was taking me on a holiday. It was almost dusk by the time we arrived at Tela and were able to walk barefooted along the peaceful beach. We noticed a trolling fishing boat on the horizon.
The next day a winter storm was forecast for the area. Since I wanted to experience everything this Central American city had to offer, I decided to go outside when the storm arrived. I persuaded my daughter to venture out with me. I had never experienced a tropical storm and thought it would be fun. I was soon to realize that Caribbean weather was nothing to trifle with.
A furious burst of wind, a deluge of rain, and we were suddenly clinging to the nearest solid object. Baby coconuts growing along the beach fell out of their nests and plummeted onto the sand, digging holes with the force of their descent. Stinging pellets of rain pommeled every uncovered piece of our flesh. The storm was an evil monster, determined to devour and destroy us. We were clutched in its mighty maw.
We tried to stay upright while dodging flying debris as we headed back toward our motel. The deafening howl of the wind made communication impossible as we attempted to stay connected through almost zero visibility. We dodged between trees bent nearly double by the gale, grabbing hold of large rocks for support, and fighting our way toward the motel. It was impossible to walk upright. The monster coiled and attacked us. Then it re-coiled and attacked again, shrieking and snarling. Our lives were in danger.
Eventually we found the corner of our building and, clinging to the siding with our finger nails, worked our way to the door. Once inside, we scraped off our wet clothing and bathed in reddish-brown, but very soft, water. We were soaked with an oily residue that required much scrubbing to remove.
The next morning we ate breakfast and headed for the beach. The water lapping at our feet was no longer cornflower blue. It was murky mocha. There was no blue Caribbean that day. The fishing boat that had trolled far out at sea had been washed ashore, beached. Locals hitched a tractor to it via a long rope and dragged it farther up on the beach so the sailors could disembark. Debris, driftwood and broken coconuts littered the beach. Little rivulets of water streamed down toward the sea. The water still looked like coffee laced with cream, but the tropical sun was shining once again.
My lesson, well learned, was to never take the elements or the weather for granted, whether sunny or stormy. Every kind of weather the Creator sends is beautiful and awesome. I am thankful to still be living to enjoy the weather, whether in a tropical paradise or in my own backyard.
And now for our Young Adult winner! Hannah Green was awarded a full scholarship to Writer’s Camp at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith.
The Storm of My Heart by Hannah Green
Weather hadn’t impacted my life until my mom started everyday with excruciating pain. You are probably thinking this has nothing to do with myself or my own feelings, but you would be mistaken. I have felt immense varieties of emotions because of my mom; this is how weather has affected my life.
My mom has had four major spinal surgeries. Now you’re probably thinking how is that about weather affecting your life? Weather can describes storms, lightning, and terrible memory’s. In 2017, my mom flew to Maryland to have her first surgery. She has E.D.S, which causes her to be more fragile. The surgery went exactly as planned, but they found another part of her body that needs to be fused. So my parents stayed to have her second surgery. I can never write down my feelings in tough situations. How does a thirteen year old deal with that let alone a eleven and eight year old? I was happy that my mom was going to be fixed and have a new neck, but the surgeries could kill her. The feeling of losing a mother is indescribable. I love her greater than the distance between us. The only options in my head where knowing she would be okay at home but suffer, be away from me with a possible chance of death. or possibly be fixed. I was a storm of feelings ready to burst.
When my mom got back from Maryland, it was a real struggle. She didn’t want help even though she needed it. I did understand though because I never liked receiving help myself when I needed it most. We had to wake her from her painless slumber in order to take her needed medication. Just when it seemed like the storm was fading, my mom suspected a possible tethered cord syndrome. She informed her doctor about her recent discovery of post-surgery complications, and he confirmed that she did indeed have tethered cord syndrome. Once my mom recovered she would fly to Maryland for another surgery. When she came home. I was aware that her healing process would be longer and more painful than the previous surgeries. She would wake up with more pain each day, and I knew the storm wasn’t over yet. I knew that she was going to be okay because of her heart of a warrior, filled with God’s love. My mom needed at least one more surgery. Before she had to leave for her fourth surgery, she snuggled and watch movies. The sunshine had finally raised over the storm. I wish the sun could have stayed out longer, but I knew we had to step back into the rain.
This is where the hurricane starts. The surgeries went as well as they expected, but she got out of the bed to go to bathroom and felt unnatural. My dad could hear her gasping for air, so he called the nurses. Her second response team helped save her, shoving a breathing tube down her throat. They gave her a beta blocker, she has had it before and it was supposed to help. This time the beta blocker caused her to stop breathing. It was a conflict based or her other medications. This very well could have killed her. Thinking that she may never come home was the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. In ICU they took her off the beta blocker and she started having hallucinations. If you’ve never had any hallucinations, they are more frightening than you can ever imagine. She thought there was a bomb coming for her, and she didn’t know where she was. You couldn’t snap her out of it. This was the aftershock of the hurricane, everything was gone. They took out the oxygen tube, and she had finally stopped having hallucinations. She was ready to come home. I was excited and happy. Though she had to be careful about everything she did, she was going to be okay.
Home at last, all that was left was for her to regain strength and recover from this tragedy. This is the part of the storm where you know you’re going to be okay, but not sure how yet. She has been getting healthier though she can drive and watch our (school) activities. We are a family of six, and we are happy that all members of our family are (finally) home.
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