One fall day many years ago, when the wind was gusting and leaves, golden and red, cartwheeled across the street, I suddenly felt inspired to write an ode to the season. I was thinking of the kind of fulsome, simple poem that my father sometimes read to us. (When he wasn’t baffling us with things like The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.) I went home and wrote The Harvest in Our Hearts and it’s been part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition ever since.
I’d like to share it with you along with a new painting that Julie Paschkis generously gave me permission to use. It’s a piece for a two-person show at the Seattle Art Museum’s café, TASTE, in May. Keep your eyes open for it!
Thanks to my fellow bloggers Julie Paschkis, Julie Larios, Margaret Chodos-Irvine and Laura Kvasnosky, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all who read our blog. You are all part of the harvest in my own heart.
The Harvest in Our Hearts
by Bonny Becker
It was the dawn of winter
and the table was set for feasting.
The silver was polished, the fire ablaze.
The turkey at last done with roasting.
We had just then raised a glass to toast
the harvest and the day,
when there came a knock at the door,
and a stranger blew in and seated himself saying,
“Room for one more?”
He wasn’t the kind to argue with. He was wide and tall and brawny.
His robes were worked in the richest threads
of brown and red and tawny.
His head was wreathed with an herbal crown;
He smelled of smoke and cold, and it seemed when he sat
that leaves fell down in a whirl of red and gold.
“Who are you?” I dared to ask, but he merely smiled
and demanded a glass of his own.
He surveyed our board and seemed to judge, weighing its merit,
assessing the richness of each dish, the quality of the claret.
Beneath his gaze it was odd to note our table grew more rich.
The silver gleamed more deep; the candles burned more bright.
Our fire stood more securely against the winter night.
He nodded. This god approved.
“Be warm, eat well, be gay.
Each season has its moment;
Each moment slips away.”
Thus saying, he, too, began to fade like smoke in the autumn wind,
but his words still lingered as we raised our glasses again.
“Here’s to friends and harvest
to winter days and rain.
Here’s to those who are with us
and to those we’ll not see again.
Here’s to fall and feasting,
to good wine and good cheer.
Here’s to the harvest in our hearts
in the winter of the year.”
What a lovely post all around! Thanks for sharing your talents.
A beautiful reminder of what the season means when it’s so easy to forget…
Thanksgiving is an easier one for me than Christmas when I can get overwhelmed.
Beautiful poem and art. Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you. 🙂
Thanks, Jama. I checked out your blog. Anyone using “folderol” and a Paschkis illustration is gold in my book. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!
Bonny, You always get to the heart of the matter. Such a warm and thoughtful post. Love Love Love Julie’s art. I need to get to the museum display. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
Thanks, Rae. Can I now say I’ve had something “illustrated” by Julie? 🙂
Dear Bonny Becker,
As my mom held your book in her hands, “A Visitor for Bear,” and she read the amazing words, I felt like I needed to read that same book 15 times each night. I lie in my bed and listen to the words fill my heart with joy. When she read the line, “THERE WAS THE MOUSE! Small grey and bright eyed.”, I Laughed every time! Since I was 3 years old, I have been inspired to be nicer, more respectful, and more responsible because of your book.
When I was in early elementary grades, I used to get super hyper and in trouble by my teachers. But because of your book, I would be a lot calmer and thought about how I could have changed my behavior in class. Even sometimes, she would read your book to me and I would fall asleep. “A Visitor for Bear” has inspired me to do better every day, and even when I don’t want to do something new, I try to do it anyway. Every day, I try so, so hard to do better in sports, school, homework, and paying attention in class. Your book has inspired me to do that.
Now, ever since my sister turned 5 ½, I have read her your book so she can enjoy how great it is. My entire family has read your book except for my little sister so I give her that joy that I felt when I was her age.
Personally, I think that your book is the best book ever! I think that your book is the best book ever because the way you used the words in the book, like when bear said, “YOU WIN. I’M UNDONE!” It is the perfect place to put it in the story! Also, when you said, “BEGONE! roared bear.” it was also the best place to put that line.
To me, your book is like none other. Your book feels like it’s speaking to me right in that moment. Your book makes me feel like am one with the book. Sometimes I think that I am in the book whether I am reading it, listening to it, reading it to myself or like I said before reading it to my sister.
Thank you so much for writing this book. It has inspired me, made me think, and form me into the person I am now. I am so thankful that you wrote this book, and I thank you for that.
Dear Carter, thank you! What a kind, thoughtful letter. You have filled my heart with so much joy today. You couldn’t give any storyteller a greater gift than to let them know that their story was important and meaningful to you. I think that is the most anyone hopes to do–to give something good to the world. Thank you, Carter. You have given me a lovely gift.
P.S. Congratulations on working hard to be the best person you can be. I think this is what Bear learned–that he could be more than he thought, but it isn’t easy, is it? You should be proud of yourself. I think you will do a lot of good things in your life. 🙂