The last first day

School is back in session and this is Jazzy’s senior year of high school. Last night she told me, “It’s the last first day of school for me tomorrow.” And it is — the last first day of high school for her and I can’t wait to see what new things this year will bring for her!

I know how privileged I am to have Jasmine and her smiling face and shining spirit in my life on a daily basis and I know this will be the year to look back on as the last one we were together this way. She will be going off to college and experiencing young adulthood. I find myself excited for her and for myself at the thought of the new directions we will be taking, always connected but walking our individual paths…

So come September,
By Annette Marie Hyder

it has been a hot summer
and I long to raise your nights,
a frosty rim, to my lips.
Your brilliant leaves
are just like flowers.
I’ll wear them in my hair.

I am ready for you, Autumn,
having been crocheting the years
into a shawl
that I won’t wear
around my shoulders
but I will spread it on the ground
and have a picnic there

and dance through your long shadows
into the arms of what might come

Dog-eared but much loved

Photo Copyright Annette Marie Hyder

Remember the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, how in that story a boy’s love for his favorite toy, a velveteen rabbit, brought it to life while concomitantly wearing it down and making it shabby? In The Velveteen Rabbit, the toy is loved so much that it becomes real even as it loses its soft velvet fur and the pink of its nose, as its whiskers fall out and the stuffing gets lumpy from so much hugging.

Books, similarly, can, if they are loved, come to life — even if they are loved by only one reader. Imagine a book like Dr. Clarissa Pinkola EstésWomen Who Run With the Wolves and how many lives it has touched, how it continues to do so, and how it sings through its readers’ lives in their thoughts and consequent actions.

The book in the photo above is my copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves, dog-eared but alive, in the way that it continues to influence me, and much loved. It makes me happy that my 17-year-old daughter is now reading this book full of
wisdom, myths, and stories about the wild woman
archetype. Second generation love for this book!

Photography by Ryan McGinley

healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life
force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”  Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves. Quote
 and photo via Ravenous Butterflies.

Links of interest:
Digital archive of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
AfterMidnightWriter: Underground Writings of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know
Ravenous Butterflies

Sunday Things: Seventeen

When my daughter, Jasmine Rain, was born, my mom planted a jasmine bush in her back yard. I wish we could all have a tree, a bush, a plant of some kind planted for us when we are born. I think it would create a connection to the earth, to the world around, above and below us — with a sense of ourselves in between and touching both clouds and roots simultaneously — that we don’t see very often.

That bush has perfumed the air and delighted the eye for 17 years now. It weathered Hurricane Charley that came through in 2004. My mom had to rebuild her home but the jasmine stood out of the direct path of the storm and roots clutching earth for all they were worth it stayed put. It is an everyday bouquet and thriving reminder for my mom of her granddaughter so many miles away but always in her thoughts. I like that very much.

It was my daughter’s birthday this weekend and as she turned 17, I know it may sound silly to you but, I was wishing her eponymous plant happy birthday too.

Here is a link to a poem that I wrote that describes, in a small way how I feel about this
beautiful girl who continues to inspire delight and joy in my every day
of being privileged to be her mother:
Jasmine Rain’s Poem

As I commented to a friend, I do have other poems I’ve written for Jasmine. But this is one I am
“allowed” to share with the world. it is a funny thing, she likes to
keep the poems I write for her for herself and prefers that no one else
gets to see them.
She has also claimed poems that were not even written for her, asked if she could have them. What is a mother to say to such a request? Of course I give them to her.

I wish for my daughter the strength of her namesake’s roots, gifts like that of its blossoming, and happiness like that of its thriving.

Sunday Things: I don’t hate squirrels

Image courtesy of Photographing Squirrels

“Don’t’ worry Mommy, I’m OK.

Seeing my daughter’s ID come up on my phone and answering it expecting her to say she just called to say she loves me or needs me to pick her up earlier or later (from Macalester College campus) or wants me to bring something to her that she left at home, I was ill prepared for the words, “Don’t’ worry Mommy, I’m OK.” Of course I immediately went into hyper alert. “What do you mean you’re OK?! What’s wrong?!”

“Well, I got bitten by a squirrel.” she said. ” It doesn’t hurt that much but I thought I should call you and let you know because it broke the skin. I already washed it and talked to the nurse about it.”

“Good. Good girl. You were right to call mommy. I’ll call your doctor and see if she wants me to bring you to her office or to the emergency room.” All the while I was talking to her on the phone I was concomitantly looking up information online about squirrels and rabies. I was in a quiet panic of anxiety.

According to the CDC, there has not been one documented case of rabies being transmitted to a human by a squirrel — here in Minnesota or in the entire United States. There have, however, been cases in Canada, our very near neighbor.

The thing about rabies is it is 100 percent fatal once symptoms manifest. The only treatment is a prophylactic  series of shots. The good news is that the shots no longer number 50. The bad news is that they still hurt and are accompanied by their own host of possible complications. But yeah, I’d choose shots over certain death any day.

Jasmine’s doctor wanted
her brought in to the emergency room in case she needed that series of
shots to counteract rabies — something they don’t keep on hand in the
doctor’s office.

People as walking vending machines

When I first talked to Jasmine, I was imagining something like the following image, an unexpected and totally out of the blue attack encounter with a ninja squirrel:

Photo courtesy of Natures Images

But what really happened is that Jasmine lured the “adorable” wild animal to her with food and in the process of eating the cookie — right from her hand! — the squirrel took a nip of finger too. The deceptively cute
bushy tailed rodents abound on the grounds of Macalester College. I am
just going to take this opportunity to make a PSA and say: DON’T FEED
THE SQUIRRELS! Any squirrels, anywhere. They are wild animals and you
are destroying their reserve around humans by presenting yourself as a
food source. Don’t be a walking vending machine for critters in the wild.

(Jasmine’s lucky she didn’t lose a finger!)

“Squirrel Girl”

The Sheriff on duty at the emergency room jokingly asked Jasmine if she bit the squirrel back and told her “Watch out, you might grow a tail! Then we’ll have to call you, ” he paused for dramatic effect, “Squirrel Girl.”

Jasmine informed him that there is in fact a super-hero “Squirrel Girl” in the pantheon of Marvel comic characters. He said “You keep me posted on your super status.”

The original Squirrel Girl illustration is by
Christopher Haynes,
inspired by the style of Bruce Timm

emergency room doctor said that because of the clean squirrel population and the
normal behavior of the animal that bit Jasmine, the rabies shots were not medically indicated. The doctor’s decision, in conjunction with guidance from
the CDC, was to give
Jasmine antibiotics for the bite wound. Following the course of antibiotics, all is well, Jasmine is fine (no sign of a tail!) and I don’t hate squirrels.

This past Friday was Jasmine’s last day of class. As well as bringing a wonderful advanced mathematics learning experience to a close, this will also bring to a close my daily admonition as I dropped Jasmine off each morning: “Don’t feed the squirrels!”

I’m feeling grateful on this beautiful summer Sunday.

Links of interest:

Squirrel Girl Fan Pages
WHO (World Health Organization) Rabies Facts


By Annette Marie Hyder

and the ocean is rocking, rocking
her baby to sleep
while the stars in the sky
promise to keep
the heavens held like a canopy
to soar overhead
to ripple with all the breezes of dream
and never fall down, and never fall down
rest and drift asleep

Ways of sharing a world view

When my daughter was a baby I never sang her all the right words to the best loved lullabies. Take “Rock-a-bye Baby” for instance and its refrain of  “Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetops, When the wind blows, the cradle will rock, When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And down will fall baby, cradle and all.” I always sang the last two lines as “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And mama will catch baby, bough, cradle and all.” I just didn’t want to be crooning messages of impending disaster and imminent doom into her little ears.

So I made up my own lullabies. That is where all the original lullabies came from, right? From individuals. I wanted to share my view of a world where she was safe and if anything threatened her I would be there for her.

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the way my own mother shaped and influenced me and hoping that the ways that I have chosen to emulate her — or not — are the right ways for me and my daughter. I want all of my communications, verbal and non-verbal (the way I live my life) from lullaby to last words to sing from my heart to hers with purity and goodness.

Links of interest:
Rutger’s University: Mother Goose: A Scholarly Exploration
Betty Kenny Tree
Rock-a-Bye Baby Wikipedia

Father’s Day 2011: Running on the rocks

Beach Cliffs

As my brother tells it, I was following him as was my wont. Whatever my big brother did, I wanted to do also.

Running on the rocks beside the roaring surf of the Maryland coastline? Yes and yes. And just as you’d suspect, my shorter legs did not serve me well in keeping up with my big brother. In fact, the story goes, I tripped and fell tumbling headlong for the sea and that could have been, probably would have been, the end of me — I imagine myself swept out in the tides embrace — had not my father heroed me.

Daddy saved me — ran like a madman as he saw first the impending disaster, then the slow motion actuality of me tripping and the start of my tumble to the sea. He caught me by the scruff of my dress at neck and the hem of my dress at knee and threw me over his shoulder as he fell himself on the rocks breaking his leg but stopping his own fall into the hissing cauldron of waves by holding on to the granite outcrop with arms so big and strong I felt, as I lay bleeding from my fall to sharp safety, that he could hold the sky up with those arms, he could beat the sea with his fists and subdue its wild waves.

My Daddy saved me. He broke his leg in doing so and at the same time some restraint in me that had been in place broke also, let loose, and ever since and ever after I still find myself, I will find myself, running on the rocks.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s day to all the little girl’s heroes and grown up daughter’s dads, the fathers of sons young and old. A father shapes and influences his children in countless ways. Even his absence will leave its mark.

Links of interest:

Dad’s good parenting may help daughters avoid risky sex
Study showing father’s influence: Dads can sway daughters towards math, science (PDF)
The Impact of Fathers

Don’t get sick or they’ll call the police on you

My daughter and I were talking about the police and how there are so many stories about police corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power (all featured prominently on YouTube).

I remember growing up with the idea that the police were there to help me if I got in trouble or danger and I felt sad that my daughter’s worldview didn’t include that perspective. I felt sad too to realize that my perspective has changed over the years to more of a wary avoidance of police (specifically in traffic situations) and an attitude of distrust — a worry about being treated unfairly should I ever find myself in a position of dealing with the police.

I told Jasmine that when I was her age I had the expectation that the police were good and honest.

How the world has changed.

Knowing how it is so easy to focus on the negative and to allow bad experiences to overshadow good ones, I made an effort to think of times in my daughter’s lifetime (she is thirteen) that the police had been on “our side”.

Here are three:

  1. When I was still living in Florida, I locked myself and my baby daughter out of the car (keys still in the ignition) when I went shopping. I called the police and they jimmied the lock for me (they don’t do this anymore because of lawsuits.)
  2. Having just moved to Minnesota, I had the incredible misfortune to leave my wallet at home and then get a flat tire — in the snow. My then-husband was out of town on business and I didn’t know anybody in town. I called the police and they sent a community service unit to give me and my daughter a ride home (from whence I could retrieve my wallet and commence operations to retrieve my car from the Target parking lot).
  3. And finally, last year when I was sick, they came to my door to check on me and make sure I was OK.

(Of course, I had not called them when I was sick. My family in Florida, worried because I was not answering the phone because I was feverish and fluish, called the police to make sure all was well. My daughter was over at her dad’s and so I was alone at my house.)

Imagine, in my flu-induced delirium, I get a knock on the door and peeping blearily out the peephole, I see it is  — the police?

Yes, my family has called the police on me because I am sick

I tell the police that I cannot open the door because I am not dressed. Technically I have just lied to the police because I am dressed — just not dressed for a visit (I am wearing a big holey T-shirt that just covers my panties and schlumpy socks that puddle around my feet). They reply that they will wait for me to get dressed as they cannot leave without making sure that I am OK.

Of course I was furious with my family (yes I am talking about you, Mother and Tommy) for subjecting me to this indignity. I stayed mad for a few days and then realized that my family was just acting out of love and worry for me. And I realized that I should appreciate that I have family that would call (from Florida) the police in St. Paul, Minnesota and tell them that I needed to be checked on. And the police? Well I have to say that a sick-visit from the police — in person — should not be taken for granted. They didn’t bring me chicken soup but they did bring a concern and polite kindness that was — in retrospect — comforting.

Howling at the moon commences (and other notes)

Friday notes of interest

Oprah Winfrey says, “This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say goodbye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and feels right in my spirit.” Source

The question is raised, “Did U.S. make mistake in skipping vaccine additive?” Source

Testicles are not like peacock feathers. Source

Helicopter-parents‘ are offered classes in how to ‘de-overparent’. Source

Howling at the moon (New Moon midnight movie showings) commences. Source

And finally, a poem with a wolf in it because the New Moon movie release has me thinking about wolves of all sorts:

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, By Richard Herman Eschke

Red Riding Hood
Annette Marie Hyder
From The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (and Other Stories)

Well honestly
of course I knew better than to talk
to the big bad wolf.
My mother warned me
all about his glamorous teeth
how fast he could run
and his stalking techniques.

But picture him
as a self-deprecating musician
flashing me a sob story
instead of his teeth
and being clever enough and then some
to lure me off the path
with his down-on-his-luck blues
knowing what I had in my basket
was his for the taking

but also knowing
it wouldn’t taste half so sweet
if he couldn’t deceive
it freely from me cozened out of my habit
of wariness fit for me so precisely
by my own mother’s hands
and colored red for stop
red for ware
red for urgence and be aware.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing
is an ill-suited dog
for a red hooded girl
but his shabby jeans and rumpled shirt
made me want to
clothe him in something better.
So I took off my habit
and let him in.

Girls are not chicks coloring book

Image from Girls Are Not Chicks coloring book

In Girls Are Not Chicks, Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak have come up with a coloring book that portrays girls in empowering and witty ways. Don’t you just hate to be pinned down to a stereotype/someone’s preconception of you?

They say:

We have had enough of books that make girls think that they are not any good.
We have had enough of books that make girls think that they are too young,
too old, too fat, too ugly, too bold, too loud, too independent.
We like books that ask girls to take pride in ourselves.
Those of us who have been raised as or identify as girls
have have often been given the idea that there is something wrong,
weak and limited about being a girl or woman.
This is not and never has been true.
Girls are not chicks. Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers and superheroes.

– Jacinta & Julie

Check out the website here. View selected pages here.

The Green Door
By Annette Marie Hyder
Previously published in The Green Tricycle

I am restless,

having a hatred of
another’s perception of one
which solidifies into walls
that make a prison,

a yearning for freedom,
the desire to escape
to the lonely secret places,
the moon my companion,
through the dark silent forest.

My eyes, twin Dianas,
bathe themselves
in the close huddled trees
in the cold night air
and the wide open sky.

Fix me not with your
Actaeon stare,
pinning me to one shape.
I am no specimen
for your study
upon a mounting board.

My spirit hand
turns the handle
of the green door.

Doorway into clouds

 Photo Copyright Jasmine Rain H.

“Hanging around”

Remember, when you were little, hanging over the side of a piece of furniture (maybe your bed or the living room couch) upside down? I loved how that vantage point made door lintels look like steps that needed climbing over and furniture look glued to the “ceiling” of the floor.

Or if you were outside, maybe you’d hang upside down from a swing or the monkey bars or a tree. The sky looked like a deep pool of blue that you could fall into if you let go of your perch.

My daughter and I stopped by the park and she insisted that I hang upside down with her. One of the neat things about having a child is the way they beckon you into a country of delight and discovery that you’ve been to before — but which is always fun to visit again.


Sometimes a change in perspective is just the catalyst needed to cross the threshold of imagination.