Mother’s Milk

My first essay this semester was entitled Mother’s Milk, I had to find animal symbolism in the story “A White Heron”. The professors comments were: I LOVE (underlined twice) this interpretation. You might also see the cow as the opportunist that Sylvia is not.
To read the short story: go to

My essay follows:

Mother’s Milk

(Animal Symbolism in A White Heron)

Though not the white heron, the heroine or villain, the cow in the story; A White Heron, plays an important part nonetheless. Introduced in the first paragraph as a “plodding, dilatory provoking creature…” it represents in this story hope in an otherwise struggle for life.

Almost every night of the summer, Sylvia or her grandmother would have to search for the cow that had hidden itself far from home; the continued search for continued sustenance. The cow, like the end of any journey, keeps itself hidden by learning to silence the bell, making the search and the journey home that much longer. Never even so much as a Moo until your patience is spent, that’s the way with all life, the cow and its milk support these two. However, once you find it the cow strolls steadily along, as if the game were fun, but now its time for the comforts of home.

When first approached by the stranger and his whistle, she abandons the cow to its own fate; fear often makes us abandon our hope. One out of the ordinary whistle, not the friendly love song of the bird, but a determined whistle of a man (she says boy). Bring the cow and the man home together, meaning the man brings home the bacon (OK, no pigs in the story, but I had to).

Even after falling in love with the villain the cow remains a central character, the villain (as I choose to view him) and Sylvia bring the cow back together. Wonderfully symbolic is that she “smiled with pleasure” driving the cow home together, running into the spot where just the night before she had been frozen in terror. Terror is gone now replaced by the ease at which her livelihood is brought home with the aid of the man.

The cow, a symbol of hope and sustenance, searched for and brought home each night. The end of each days journey, and made that much sweeter with a man at your side. The man enters the picture, but the cow (hope) still hides each night in bushes far away, waiting only for us to seek it. Not the central character, but it helps us to make the $10 that much of a sweeter reward, knowing that each days struggle would perhaps lessen a bit. “Many a night Sylvia heard the echo of his whistle haunting the pasture path as she came home with the loitering cow.” Even after the man leaves, hope remains, but we have to journey for it and make it home.


Five years is a long time to stay at one job, and remain consistently good at it, but Phyllis did it. She’s been with the Project CHAMP program since her arrival at Children’s and has become a welcome fixture in the department.

Phyllis always has a smile, a kind word, an exhilarating laugh to brighten a day. It was always nice to see her walking down the hall in the morning, passing by my desk with a smile and a wave… Always asking: “What are you up to?” with a childlike curiosity as I was wearing an evil grin I’m sure. She is my Amazing Race buddy, the person that I talked to about our favorite players, and the stupid things people said or did on the show.

She’s named for a beauty queen you know, and she is a beauty to outshine all others. As if she has stolen the glamour of a hundred women and added their beauty to her own, not just her appearance but the radiance of her heart and her love. She loves the kids we serve, loves the people she works with and is a true testament to the love of God and family.

The wonderful thing about her moving on is that she will continue to work in this field and help the families to be the best they can be. She is the beacon of hope in an otherwise hopeless life, a way out of the darkness.

Phyllis, truly I wish you all the best in your new endeavors. I know your leaving is a sad event at Children’s, but I know you have touched the lives of all you’ve had the pleasure to work with.

Psych Ward Baby

My mother was born in the psychiatric ward of a Navy Hospital, hard telling what my grandma was doing there, but there is some speculation. Some say Grandma was raped, and the trauma was such in 1950, the only thing they knew to do was lock her up, others say, that her affair with the officer went sour and she truly lost it. Regardless, with a start like that she was bound to have the life she did and me in turn the life I led.

You would have thought that being born in a psycho ward would have been the defining moment in my mothers life, but there were others that ranked up there. The time she was almost raped in the cornfield, when she and her friend Tommy had been hitchhiking. I can still picture the scene in my head…

The car had pulled into a cornfield, and both Mom and Tommy were scared, Tommy in the back seat and my mother in the front. The man reached into the glove compartment and as he did Tommy slammed his legs against the bucket seat shoving the man into the steering wheel. The horn sounded, but all my mother could hear was the sound of Tommy’s strangled cry “Run Cheryl, run.” And she did, and she never looked back.

Mom told us that story numerous times, in the hopes that it would have us be more cautious or something when we were kids. Me, I thought for sure the man wanted Tommy and not my mom… he sounded adorable. Mom told us Tommy was her boyfriend, and had sandy blonde hair and a slim muscular body… I felt certain, looking at my obese mother, the man had to have wanted to boy.

Mom was the only child in Grandmother’s marriage that was not of her husband, and it was always thrown back in her face. She was the outsider, the one with the different color hair, the different body type and never treated as the others. Of course living in a violent, alcoholic home didn’t help. I’m sure my mothers life was shaped in those earlier years, and they affected her always.

First on a sawmill, and then on a ranch, life in rural Wisconsin was good for the family. There was money for schools and money for cars. Model T’s and A’s were stored like precious gems in grandfathers sheds even when I was an adult, truly they were a wonder to behold these ancient relics. They were so big, when you sat in them it was as if you could run over the whole world.

Grandfather was a mean drunk, a mean man in general, he not only beat on his wife and kids, he was also known to have beat on his horses and cows. Grandmother came up with a plan to protect the children, when he was in a particular foul mood she would say: Red light and they would run into the field until they thought he would pass out or take his fists to someone else, usually my grandmother. My mothers brother was the one he almost killed, grandmother saw it in his eyes the day Grandpa picked up the shovel and said “I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch, and then bury him.” Grandma urged her son to run as far and as fast as he could.. and it was years before he came back.

Literary Distractions

I have a lot to read, short stories galore from ENG 112, and World Literature II and I love it. The problem? I keep seeing other stories in the book that I want to read – Faulkner, Morrison, Hawthorne, Le Guin… so very many. I get distracted in stories not on my syllabus, which is bad.
I’m supposed to write synopses on what I’ve been told to read, but I really want to write this or that or expound on this theory.

Seeing the story Where Are You Going – Oates, I see a story of the devil tempting the innocent girl with adventure, rhyme and rock and roll music. But, my first paper has to be about animal symbolism so I choose the story: A White Heron – Jewett and wrote about the cow (I am from Wisconsin you know).

Reading and writing is keeping me from video gaming, which is probably good, but a little annoying as well.

New World – review

The new movie out, New World, starring Colin Farrel and Batman Begins star Christian Bale is a story based on John Smith and the Indian Princess. I personally don’t remember the story the way the movie protrayed it, but I heard the director went for accuracy.

I only went to the movie because there was a chance my friend, Suzanne, would be in it. She had signed on as an extra, and sure enough saw her a few times in the film.

So, if for no other reason than that, go see the movie, as my best friend is in it.

I long…

I long for his calloused hand in my hand, his heart beat pounding in time to mine.
I long for the feel of his lips and his tongue, the taste of sweat and passion.
I long to brush my fingers ever so softly against the fur on his chest.
I long for the electrifying caress of his hand as it roams my body.
I long to be a part of him, to be a part of something more.

Kick of the past

Self Defense class, first actual learning. We learned how to stand, hold our hands, pay attention and pivot. I’m sore in places I didn’t know I had places, but I know it was a great workout which pleases me.

The instructor went on to show us a kick, and the kick triggered something in my mind. He showed us the kick again, but this time I saw someone else kicking a figure from my past, my childhood…

Bruce was the toughest kid I ever knew, his nickname was Tiny, and unlike most people with that moniker he was in shape. I don’t know that he participated in sports or anything, but he loved karate and the martial arts. The kick was something I had seen him do often enough, not to any actual people, but just to show me he could perhaps. A quick stab of his leg into the air and back again almost quicker than the eye could see.

I wasn’t the kind of kid to go out looking for fights, and I don’t recall Bruce that way either, but if I were ever to be faced with one, I had hoped he would be at my side. Not for the kick, but because he was that kind of friend-loyal and true.

When my Mom was dying, it was Bruce to whom I sent money for groceries for her. It was Bruce who I called to see if I should go home.

Some people are like that, good people from the time they are little kids and into adulthood. True friends last that lifetime, beyond states, throughout history, beyond fathers and mothers… true friends are a treasure.

Father Winter

The winds howled his name
Against the window panes
yet I failed to heed their siren
Skin shivered as his icy fingers
Grasped for my raspy throat
By the time I noticed he had arrived it was to late
Life in the thousands had met their fate
His tracks lay bare for all to see
Father Winter had come again
Met by my own misery

Look up in the sky…

It’s Superman! a Novel by Tom De Haven

Lies, smoking, sex and hate items usually associated with Superman’s villains, are shown in the not so alien life of Clark Kent. His awkwardness and feelings of being so very alone in the universe are apparent in this novel.

The death of his mother in the first few chapters acts as the catalyst that sends young Clark, with his friend Willi (who happens to be on the lamb) across country via thumb and box cars. Their adventures, the sights they see all start to mold the Superman we know today.

Lex Luthor, the villain of all villains also remains much the same. Blackmailing a young inventor into working for him, Lex has compromising pictures of the man having intimate relations with another man… shocking, even in today’s comics homosexuality is not accepted. Luthor, he has a hand in everyone’s secret, knows how to use people to his best advantage.

Lois Lane, same old stuck up snob of a reporter, who has less than 3 minutes for Clark, but stares dreamily into space wondering when the “perfect man” for her will show. Clark in Hollywood, as a stuntman? Clark getting drunk, smoking and sleeping with women? Lois, one boyfriend after another, perhaps deep down a floozy.

This novel incorporates real life people from the 30s and 40s, it makes Superman more of a man to aspire to be. For all his doubts, Clark is continues to strive toward helping all people, always worrying that he can’t do enough, that he’s not smart enough, that he’ll be too late.

At the end of the book, Lois removes one shoe and lobs it so it hits Clark in the head. Love that, get out of your own misery and worry, think about what’s at hand, do the next right thing!!!

Great novel, short read and truly recommended.

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn. – Hemingway

As short stories go, they don’t get much shorter. This short story was presented to class yesterday.

Could it be that the wanna be grandmother, hearing that an important announcement was to be made by the newlyweds puchased the shoes? Only to discover the announcement was they were buying a house?

Or is it the father selling the shoes, because his baby died. The mother is still to distraught and connected to the shoes and cannot bear to let them go.

Maybe you have your own idea of where the story should go.