I gasped a bit as I wheeled my heavy bag toward the white-trimmed double doors leading to the hotel lobby. I was having some trouble adjusting to the altitude in Yellowstone after living my whole life at sea level. My husband Frank, on the other hand, took to the elevation as one mountain-born, much to my annoyance. He’d already dragged the rest of our luggage inside the hotel and was checking in at the front desk as I doddered my way into the lobby and collapsed in a chair near the fireplace.
One day when the earth was new, Nanabozho looked out the window of his house beside the wide waterfall and realized that all of the flowers in his meadow were exactly the same off-white color. How boring! He decided to make a change, so he gathered up his paints and his paintbrushes and went out to the meadow.
Once there was a lovely young woman growing up in a wealthy shipping family in New York. In those days, wealthy young women were expected to make their debut in society and to marry a wealthy young man from a good family. But our young lady was a bit of a rebel. When she grew old enough to marry, she scorned the wealthy young society men in favor of an older man who was working as a servant in her house.
They were not even close to the main camp when the sandstorm storm hit, blasting hot sand into their eyes, hair, and skin. The wind whirled above, around, and under the hasty shelter the two cowboys had set up, offering no protection at all. They took small sips of water every hour or so to relieve the dryness of their throats and to shift about to keep from being buried completely under the sand.
Many years before the American Revolution, there was an old man named Sam Hyde who became famous throughout New England as a jester. He told so many tall tales that he was called the greatest of all liars. In fact, people were apt to say: “You lie like Sam Hyde” when they didn’t believe a friend’s tall tale.
“That’s it!” Black Rooster crowed to himself when he spotted Red Rooster flirting with the hens again. “I’ve had it with that impudent Rooster. This is my farmyard, not his!”
New Year’s Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. Since most countries use the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is a truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the New Year starts.
Kwanzaa is a seven day festival which celebrates the African American culture and history. It is a time of community gathering and reflection. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th, the day after Christmas, and continues until New Years Day, January 1st.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar. It is celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For more than two thousand years, people have been observing Christmas Day with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, sharing meals with family and friends and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.
December 6 is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop from the fourth century. He is the model for our modern-day Santa Claus, because Saint Nicholas’s generosity was legendary. The night before Saint Nicholas Day, children place their shoes in a prominent location– by a fireplace, or outside their bedroom door. The next morning–usually very early–the children find their shoes filled with little presents from the great saint.
In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The thanksgiving observance at Plymouth was prompted by a good harvest. Initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed the colonists, but the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the settlers by providing seeds and teaching them to fish.
I came home late one night after work and found my wife Ethel puttering about the kitchen with a big yellow cat at her heels.
“And who is this?” I asked jovially.
“This is our new cat,” said Ethel, giving me a hug and a kiss to welcome me home. “She just appeared at the kitchen door and wanted to come in. None of the neighbors know where she came from, so I guess she’s ours. It will be nice to have some company around the house.”
Something was going on. Jason felt it in his bones. Polly was too happy, too cheerful. No woman could be that upbeat and still be faithful to her husband. Jason sat down to a delicious, warm meal every night, and Polly sang to herself as she washed up. What kind of woman could be cheerful doing dishes? Try as he might, Jason never heard anything that hinted of a secret romance. It drove him crazy. Life was not this perfect.
Massey was a soldier unfortunate enough to cross me, his commanding officer. He did not live to regret it. There was something very satisfying in the moment when I thrust the tip of my sword into the soldier’s heart during our duel. I watched him fall to the ground with the satisfaction of a job well done.
She was nervous when her husband said they were to stay in the abandoned house, for it contained the corpse of the hermit who once lived there, enshrined in a coffin in the loft. It was an old custom and one no longer popular among the Iroquois people, but the hermit had insisted upon it before his death. There was good hunting in this place, her man had declared, and so they moved in and she unpacked their few belongings in the front room, refusing to go up into the loft where the hermit’s body lay.
Old Man McManor was the foulest-tempered fellow you ever did see; but he owned and operated the only sawmill over in Camden, so folks had to deal with him. Whenever anyone didn’t pay on time or crossed him, he’d take out his horsewhip and flail at them until they ran away cussing or broke down crying.
When he left his tribe to work with the white lumbermen, he changed his name to William Cloud, and the lumberjacks started calling him “Cloudy.” They liked to hear Cloudy tell the story of the wraith that lived in the creek that powered the local log chute. The wraith was an evil creature that desired nothing more than to wrap its long arms around humans or animals and pull them down into the water to drown.
When the Civil War ended, Jeremiah Jones, found himself a free man. Eager to make a new life for himself, he made his way north to Milwaukee. For several years, he worked odd jobs until he earned enough money to buy himself a big white horse and a dray—a low, flatbed wagon without sides. Shortly thereafter, he was hired on as a drayman with the Phillip Best Brewing Company.
She worked in a box factory, and her salary was not large. She made just enough to cover the cost of food, shelter, and the clothes on her back. So when she received an invitation to a fancy-dress party from an old friend, she did not know what she should do. Here was her chance at last to shine a little, to experience how the other half lived, but she had no money to buy a dress, or even the material to make one.
He had not expected to meet the woman of his dreams, but there she was strolling along in the moonlight beside the cemetery. Carlos quickened his pace until he was level with her, hoping for a glimpse of her face under her veil.
Our friends Josh and Sandy were firm believers in ghosts and claimed to have seen the mysterious red-haired phantom that haunted Route 44. My wife and I were sitting with them at dinner one night, and we started kidding them about it.
There is a tale once told of a Mississippi riverboat captain who called all of the passengers to the top deck in the middle of the night. When the announcement was made, everyone hurried topside, wondering fearfully what had occasioned the disruption in their sleep.
Scratch. Scratch. Peck. Cock was strutting around the yard, busily looking for good things to eat. Peck, peck scratch. He gobbled down a piece of barley-corn with greedy satisfaction. Yum!
Well, the spring floods here in Vermont are mighty fierce, doncha know. One young farmer named Tom got trapped one year when the river started rising near his place. He watched the water creep up to his front porch, and then through the front door, and then on up the steps until he and his wife were trapped in their upstairs bedroom.
We timed our visit to Pendleton to coincide with the Roundup, and managed to snag one of the very last hotel rooms in town. My husband was a big rodeo fan and was as excited as a little kid to be attending the famous Pendleton Roundup. I myself was looking forward to the rodeo, and very much enjoyed the Wild West feel of the town, but my biggest wish for this trip was to visit the famous, or should I say infamous, Pendleton Underground.
Back in the old days, Brer Lizard was an awful lot like Brer Frog, meaning he could sit upright like a dog. Things were like this for quite a spell. Then one day when they were walking down the road by their swamp, Brer Lizard and Brer Frog spotted some real nice pasture land with a great big pond that was on the far side of a great big fence…