Grasslands Shanty; prose

Meltzer_Solo Act

photo ‘Solo Act’ © Carolyn C Meltzer, Atlanta, Georgia 2017


CC Meltzer Photography

© Carolyn C. Meltzer, CC Meltzer Photography

Atlanta, Georgia, USA


About the time of my mid-teens, a youth raised in the rolling southern Ontario countryside amidst corn and hayfields, grazing cattle and horses, I would wander the grasslands for endless hours

Farmers would amble back and forth tilling the rich soil and later cutting and baling hay for the cows’ bedding and feed

Always a consistent process and transformation, a routine for each season

Cornfields were always a fascination for therein lies the mystery of the cornstalk tall stands

weaving to the brisk summer breeze

As a child I would amble between the thick, sinewy dark green stalks and foliage as they grew taller and taller

Waiting ‘til the stalks were taller than I so that I could walk in hastened, secretive silence through the corn maze that surrounded me

Exhilarated, my breath ever faster as I progressed deeper and deeper into the maze


Early summer meant beautiful mornings of temperate warmth and the calm of humid, lazy summer days unfolding

Distant sounds played out; children laughing playfully, hound dogs barking, their deep and resonant voices seemingly orchestral as rogue songbirds howling in unison

Grasses were soft underfoot then, not yet dry and crisp from the ensuing swelter of high summer days

Crows would cackle their annoyance at my approach, often hopping sideways on the ground a few feet away, chattering their angered chastising for my seeming intrusion of their territory amidst the stalks

When lunchtime came I could always hear the faint holler of my mom’s voice signaling for me to head home

She would always have the best assortment for the mid-day meal; thick-cut sandwiches of multi-grain slathered with mayo and generous slices of luscious dark red tomatoes, several strips of bacon and a dusting of garlic powder  

A Red Delicious apple was always the finishing touch, big as cantaloupe, dripping with succulent juice and a tingle savored on the tongue

Then, too, there were peaches when in season, huge and the sweetest taste with water as drawn from an artesian well, chilled in the fridge and cooling on the tongue, dripping down our cheeks


Then off I’d go for an afternoon of hiking across the grasslands, an underscore of tussled green topped with sun-baked tan, flattened footsteps trailing behind

Seeming hours would pass as I navigated the rolling plains, in and out of forest on the upper slope, dried leaves rustling, the tree canopy shading from the sun

Squirrels would scamper, darting this way and that in silent hasten for the safety of cover on my approach

White birch stood in stark contrast to evergreens; and huge maples, their leaves big as my hands and then some

Cattle roamed in herds yet dispersed to wander and graze in their own space, their huge eyes watchful of my movements as I passed them silently by

Now and then I would see a large hawk flying over the tree line, its shrill cry announcing its own passing, a wing span so wide and amazing color dressing its feathers as artistic markings

Finally I would reach my ‘outer limits’ as mom would say, a safe distance from home and just close enough to make it back for dinner


I remember once coming across a huge black bull in a corner of a neighboring field grazing all by itself

I came, unsuspecting, through the edge of the forest and there he was

Alarmed, I froze in its enormous and manacing gaze

It’s breath heavy and snorting, drool oozing beneath its ringed nose, the behemoth lowered its broad forehead as if warning me away, dragging a hoof across the soil in posturing

Without turning I backed away, a trickle of sweat now beading in a stream down my face and back

He stepped forward, only one step, its hulking frame at an awkward angle as though poised to shred his measly foe

Panic turned me full around and I dashed for the fence line at a terrified sprint, my footsteps pounding, as were the bull’s and his own shaking the earth beneath me

The fence drew near as I was gasping for air, the raging bull closing in fast


Finally my fate was sealed and with a leap of shear faith flung myself up and over the fence post and wired fencing; in the moment my adversary slamming his horns into the post, nearly snapping it into splintering bits

I hit the ground half-running, dizzy for lack of breath, the warm trickle of fear now streaming down the inside of my pant leg

One look back into the eyes of the stunned bull told me there would be no next time

I ran like a scared rabbit, twisting and dodging as though tearing through a minefield

I gained ground as the huffing bull stood pondering the fence barrier before him

Down to the creek I dashed and plunked myself down in the cool, crystal clear brook to wash the soiling from my self-stained trousers; embarrassed, I strolled haplessly out into the sun-baked field and stretched out to dry, my chest still heaving and my breath short and raspy

Now and then I glanced over to the angry bull, his menacing gaze still seething with anger, his eyes surveying another way through

Those dark brown orbs spoke to me as though there would be another day of reckoning, another encounter in the ring between he and I, a day I would regret if I ever dared


Exhausted now, I trudged back across the open fields, my legs and feet heavy as boulders, weak and trembling, longing for a hot shower and supper awaiting

Mom greeted, as always, with a smile unaware, as I quietly nodded and ascended the stairs to my room

I paused to flop down on the bed, eyes closed as I pondered the experience; those dark brown eyes still leering at me, its deep snorting a caution thrown to the wind

I had skirted with danger that fine summer day; a little bruised and tattered, a terrifying adventure and one to avoid for all my future days

But just then I smiled

It was then I remembered the reason for my venturing so far into the field; it was that little, tattered old lean-to shanty on the eastside grasslands

One or two good wisps of wind would surely push that wavering shed, seemingly as vulnerable to its demise as I in this day

Someday I’ll get to that cedar board shack where the sparrows chatter and swoop to and fro

For inside there is surely magic to be seen and adventures to explore

in the dark recesses of the shanty; yes, that’s where I’ll go

A place of refuge and imagine from the safe, cool darkness of that shanty on the plains


© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved

In this, a continuing series, I am honored and excited to share a collaborative undertaking with gifted Atlanta, Georgia photographer Carolyn C. Meltzer titled ‘Stunning Visuals In Verse’ pairing my own original written verse through the inspiration of Carolyn’s striking photographic images. One of the most fundamental means to enhance poetry’s reader experience is through the pairing of stunning photographic images in a union of compelling and inspired perceptions that only the individual reader can fully embrace.

Discover Carolyn’s extraordinary gift for capturing breathtaking visuals of life and the remarkable beauty of our natural surroundings. I truly felt compelled to present her breathtaking images alongside my poetic verse in a unified representation of creative arts endeavor embracing the extraordinary elements of nature that touch our heart, mind and soul.

To my readers I implore that you visit the website of Carolyn C. Meltzer, linked beneath the accompanying photo or by clicking the image itself, to explore and experience the beauty and wonderment of her subjects through an accomplished camera lens. Share in the emotions and spirit of creative and artistic collaboration through visuals in verse.

Care for and protect our natural environment…our very existence depends on it.


4 thoughts on “Grasslands Shanty; prose

    1. Thank you so much John! It does me good to know my words resonate as they do. Grasslands Shanty was quite a departure for me. As soon as I saw Carolyn’s photo of that tiny lean-to shack out on the grasslands I knew that prose would be the way to go. I really enjoy reading this one back, John, and will surely write more in this vein. My upbringing in the country really left me with wonderful memories and as such my recall of such events in my life are that much more vivid to this day. Warmest regards as always John.


  1. Yes Don,

    your prose style here is indeed very persuasive and evocative – a very enjoyable read… A Big thank you to both you and Carolyn


    1. Scott, my friend, thank you so much once again for such wonderful comment on my writing! I am touched by this. I really enjoyed writing this piece, a true reflection of a time in my teen years when I loved to roam the grasslands, through the tall corn stalks and deep in and out of the forest. I treasured my place of rearing and my love of nature, perhaps the most treasured of gifts that mom and dad handed down to me, and I will always cherish these memories. I will surely venture to write more prose, especially touching on my real life experiences for it is those which readers can best identify with…and hold close to their hearts through their own deeply personal association. Many years from now, when you and I are still etching out our verse and prose, when we hold our personal collection of published writings close to heart in celebration, perhaps only then will we fully grasp the significance of our writing years; maybe even side by side on the front porch! Imagine… 😉 Warmest regards Scott.


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