Archive for April, 2011

PART II of  the excerpt from HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings– “Spring in Heartland America”



I must say, I had the most godawful urge to stick my tongue out at spiteful old Miss Hickey, the Latin teacher. Her mission in life since before she was born had apparently been to hate anything and everything new and different; that much seemed obvious. But I’d figured out enough about human nature to know that it probably wasn’t really me she was mad at. I just didn’t know who.

I did put an end to her using me for a firing range, though. Daring, considering she had that willow switch hidden under her desk. But it was easy!

One day, I hung outside her classroom door with my arms stacked full of fresh library books till she sniffed me out. And when she huffed over to shoot me the daggers, I just gave her my goofiest grin.

Now, nobody EVER smiled at Miss Hickey. So after both her eyes popped out of her head and rolled on the floor like gumballs (. . . that’s how I saw it, anyway), needless to say, she never bothered to glare at me again. Blame it on the power of imagination, if you like.  But, hey — Mission accomplished.

In that glorious Spring before I turned seven, little could suppress my urge to learn. I had given myself free rein.

With reading treasures I culled from Havenwood School’s library and the books of her own Miss Greenlee loaned me — books filled with beautiful illustrations and intriguing photographs that could tell their stories without even needing words — the whole new world Mama promised me when I first started school was mine to explore every day.

Through books, I could marvel at masterful statues in London and Greece, canal boats in Venice, four seasons in Paris; explore Ireland’s pastoral sheep farms, and scamper with wild goats in the Scottish Highlands.

Aboriginal Dreamtime

Aboriginal Dreamtime

I could wonder at the linear depictions of skinny Egyptian queens and kings and track the hieroglyphic stories of their lives. I could listen to Dreamtime Story spirits of Australia’s Aboriginal people, and feel the throbbing rhythms of African Zulu warriors dancing the hunt as their pictures came alive for me. And I could dream of my life’s journey carrying me across the vast oceans of earth, to make friends with fascinating people in foreign lands.

Through books, I became enthralled with the art and culture of my Native American ancestors, and amazed by the genius of Renaissance Men in America. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, witty Samuel Clemens with his pen name, Mark Twain, all spoke to me. 

And I would later come to know the Founding Fathers of my nation, and realize–after the dark years that followed my own generation’s folly–how much the character of these great men and others of their ilk helped shape a Neo-Renaissance awakening.

And in my youth, their foresight, will and wisdom inspired me to believe in my ability to help in this world, and fueled my determination to visit my friend Mister Walling again, even if it had to be a secret . . .

C O N T I N U E D C L I C K  for Surprising Part III

Author D. J. Houston

Copyright©2011, 2014 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

Magical Mystery – Social Commentary – Coming of Age Story – American Literature Treasures

Founding Fathers

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Excerpts from the novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings


Spring blossomsRain was another week coming to wash the sin from the charred remains of Peterson’s Salvage Yard, leaving behind no scarcity of pristine air to clear my head and lungs as I wandered the woods and countryside. Any desire for vengeance that haunted me after the fire was soon purged from my heart by the merciful, relentless beauty of Spring in Havenwood.

In the meadows and pastures, lines of fat raindrops clung like jewels to the undersides of new branches too green to absorb them, backlit by a cautious sun. Yellow-budding tulip trees drank thirstily of the fresh, pooled rain. And redbuds and dogwoods bloomed pink and white in the patches of light and shadow cast by canopies of hardwood trees, greening to life in the fertile woodlands.

I soon returned to school to discover all manner of winged creature, lending song and sound and motion to the Spring outside our classroom . . .

Ruby throated hummingbirdRuby-throated hummingbirds zoomed on invisible wings from flower to flower, sharing nectar with the honeybees in the gardens we’d planted. And as the apple orchards sprinkled their delicate blossoms onto the breezes, sweet brown wrens whistled duets with the chickadees and chirping sparrows to the counterpoint, drumming staccato of woodpeckers courting their mates.

I took to drawing pictures of whatever Mother Nature offered those halcyon days, using up boxes of colored chalk and watercolor paints faster than art supply mail orders could arrive.

I was also reading every book I could get my hands on.  And because I was so far ahead in Arithmetic and so hungry for Art and Reading, Miss Greenlee made a special place for me at the back of the classroom where I could spread out my work on a nice long table with a window view.

Gnarly old Miss Hickey, the Latin teacher, disapproved, of course.

I caught her peeking through the windows before she could duck. But she didn’t dare complain to Mister Attabee; he’d already put her in her place that famous day under the hickory tree in the schoolyard, defending Miss Greenlee’s artistic license to do whatever she pleased.

Maybe she wanted her own artistic license. Maybe she was just jealous. But whatever the case, “Hickey Witch” just had to make her spiteful point by glaring at me with those snaky eyes and that squinched up face of hers whenever I passed her classroom door on my way to the library . . .

C O N T I N U E D  – C L I CK  for PART II

D.J. Houston, Author

Copyright©2008, 2014 D.J. Houston. All Rights Reserved.

From the novel HAVENWOOD TALES Beginnings

Magical Mystery – Inspiring Stories – Life Lessons – Artists of Spring – Heartland America

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