Thursday, October 04, 2007

Deep Roots!

Several of my regular readers - those familiar with the offer I had about two months ago now to right a monthly column for a local weekly publication - have asked me to share the piece I wrote and submitted to the editor for what should have been my first piece with that paper.

I hesitated to publish it here on my blog because I don't know if by doing this here if it makes this piece then "published" material and if I were to try to submit it elsewhere, if it would affect its "marketability." Kind of sounds a bit high-faluting or arrogant to me to say it that way - like I just KNOW some other market is going to spy it here on my blog and say well we certainly can't use it now cause you blew your opportunity away. But I decided oh, what the heck, let's put it up here anyway. Just for posterity, ya know -okay?


Jennifer Hill Ertmer

Autumn’s in the air; just around the corner. It’s a season I love for cool, crisp air, football, and bonfires but especially for the rainbow of colors Mother Nature gives them.

It reminds me of a big old pine tree that used to grow in my side yard. That tree gave great shade, lots of cool breezes and a sturdy trunk with branches shooting off in many directions but spaced just nice for a child to climb.

That tree was cut down probably in the late 1950’s mainly because of its roots –roots that rambled all over the yard; roots that twined around pipes from the house to the septic tank, clogging them up, usually every fall too.

I’m a lot like that tree. I have roots that run hither, thither and yon. Mine –as yours probably do too – run under a great body of water –the Atlantic Ocean. They reach to Scotland and further north, to Sweden. The roots that veer off to Scotland track back 200 years to the early 1800;s but those that go up to the land of the Vikings, are really old – dating back to the early 1600’s.

My roots are firmly placed right here in my house, built by my grandparents in 1903 and where I was born four decades later, raised and have lived most of my life, but they also travel across the road to the big white house on the side of the hill built in the late 1890’s by my great-grandparents.

The tentacles or roots of my tree –like the ones that once grew here in my yard – also extend about two miles down the road from my home to a place now deserted but which once was a very bustling and robust coal mining town – Peale.

And Peale, like me, came into existence in the month of October, in 1884, sixty years before me. It came about when the coal company operating in Lycoming County in a place called McIntyre, like Peale, now a ghost town, moved their employees, lock, stock and barrel up to Peale. My Great-grandparents along with their six young children, were among those folks who got shipped to Peale that weekend 123 years ago this coming October.

Although I’m in the autumn of my life now and this season is a reminder that marks the passing of both my parents, it also still has evidence of my entry into the world on an October morning, with my branch expanding, knotting, and getting gnarled, brittle too. When I look at my granddaughter, who will be four in October, I see a new limb just starting to get a foothold and become a strong branch some day.

We go through all the seasons of the year with spring –regardless of what month you were born as the new beginning; summer –bright, sunny, some thunderstorms here and there but a growing season, like childhood, our teenage years, a young adult and autumn is the waning years of life –but so full of color, joy and beauty again from the paintbrush of our minds as we picture family, friends- a time gone by, like the leaves falling from the trees.

Winter’s coming – sooner or later – but in the autumn, it’s a great time to sit and think about how wide a span and how deep our roots may run.

The editor rejected this piece as he said he really didn't want anything "personal." I suppose we just got our wires crossed and I apparently misunderstood his meaning when he had originally told me to write about whatever just sort of "hits" me in my day-to-day life.

And, this is what happened to just sort of hit me when I was trying to do a little basic introduction of myself to his readers. I have no clue though as to why I can't get the same color on the font the whole way through this doggone piece now though. Go figure, huh?


Theresa said...

Well you can always say your blog readers are your editors so technically you were sharing not publishing!

As your editor I think it is great and I wouldn't change a thing. It shows you are proud of your Peale root and could lead to more stories about peoples roots in Peale.

Linda said...

I think that this was very well written and talks not just of personal things but of the town just down the road from you. Your roots to the region would be good to know about as you wrote about the region.

The editor's loss is not running this piece - it was excellent and I wouldn't change a thing!

Vic Grace said...

Its a beautiful piece Jeni.

Patois said...

Here's hoping the editor knows about your blog and understands this: that's something I'd like to read in a local rag. It's something I'd write for a local rag. (If I were writing for a local rag.)

Jeni said...

I dunno if he is aware of my blog or not. But the thing is here, the ghost town I mentioned, I know he is aware I am very "into" local history and especially that place. I thought to tie the tree, my roots, that town which was begun 123 years ago this month and autumn together would work ok. I really didn't see that my piece was all that "personal" -other than a few general facts but those are nothing but a mention of something many, many residents in this area would share with me. Who knows? Maybe he spoke to someone else who knows me from other things and just decided it wasn't a good idea after all. His choice there, so what ya gonna do, ya know?

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