Poetry Friday May 3, 2019 - Preparedness

Poetry Friday is hosted today by author Jama Kin Rattigan, at her blog, Jama's Alphabet Soup. Check out her page for links to more poets sharing work today.

In 1958, when I was five years old, my parents and other relatives set out on a great adventure north.
I have been writing bits and pieces about it for a while. I've discovered that the more I write, the more I want to know. The best part of this has been talking to those relatives who are still with us, and getting to know them better. I wish we all didn't live so darn far apart. I've also been researching the history of the logging industry. That hasn't been as heartwarming as getting to know extended family better, but it's still been fascinating.
To motivate myself to write, I plan to post bits and pieces of their saga here every Friday. They might not be in any kind of order. I just hope to get some kind of reasonable drafts out there.
I appreciate feedback on the construction of the poetry and ideas and questions about what information might be missing.

This is the fifth instalment. The previous ones can be read here.



You got to know
that logging was
in their blood.

Granny and Grampa Alaric
ran their own logging company
back when trees were harvested
with cross cut saws,
and horses hauled timber
out of the woods.

Between bearing and
raising seventeen children,
and looking after her
aging in laws,
Granny cooked
for the men in camp.

They logged their way
across the United States,
from Minnesota to Oregon,
up through Washington state,
and on into Canada.

When Vancouver
was still a village,
they logged the lower mainland
and north shore mountains.
Owned a downtown city block.
Lost it in the 1930’s.
Couldn’t pay taxes.

Working their way east,
they logged their way
through the coast mountains,
into the Nicola valley.

All the men, 
except my father,
were third generation
Had been involved
in the business since they
were out of short pants.

Primitive conditions
were commonplace
to them.

But not so much for
the younger crowd who, 
having been raised soft,
were appalled.

Dorothy, and Les,
couldn’t believe their eyes
couldn’t believe
they were expected to
live in conditions like this.

Sharon, newly wed,
expecting their first child,
was not at all prepared.
Wondered what the heck
she had gotten
herself into.

But all those cabins needed
was a bit of elbow grease
and knowhow.

Sounds of industry
sang in the air.
Shouts and laughter
rang counterpoint
to the buzz of chainsaw
and whack of an ax.

chairs, tables, beds,
were fashioned out of pine.

Bit by bit
they transformed
those hovels
into cosy homes.


  1. Thank you for sharing more of your project. Enjoying this rich family history and learning about logging. The mention of certain relatives' names adds a sense of immediacy and intimacy.

  2. Each part of this poem could be expanded, Cheriee. You've given the hint of it, but I want more! I'm trying to imagine living like that and being pregnant, too. We had a primitive cabin in our mountains for a long time & loved going there, but it was easy because we didn't stay long enough to have to meet all our needs, could haul in water & food, just for a week or so. Your poems are so enticing to me.

  3. The most amazing thing Linda, is that they all now laugh. Even my newly wed Aunt pretty much accepted that it was what it was.

  4. This was great. Really told the story! I like the attitude of the attitude of several generations that comes through.

  5. I love it that you are collecting these memories and writing them down!

  6. Delightful! There is so much story here. What incredible people and incredible history. I think this poem is actually a chapter. I want more smells and sounds, sensory and painterly details because I am absolutely fascinated by this story. You have great material to work with.

  7. It's been so interesting to read this history, Cheriee. When you're finished, you'll practically have a novel in verse. It's lovely.

  8. I'm glad you're capturing these stories while you can!

  9. I am enjoying your series of family history. Logging is a tough industry--past and present.

    1. It really is. It's the most dangerous job in the world.

  10. Cheriee, I missed this installment so I am glad that I backtracked. This part of your story is so interesting. I often think how difficult it must have been to be a pioneer but your story brings a new thought to my mind: loggers and their family. I, too, would love more details of the primitive conditions. These lines make me think of today's millenials:
    the younger crowd who,
    having been raised soft,
    were appalled.
    You are persistent in your journey to record the family history. That is commendable.

  11. It looks like you're writing a family history in verse. I like the phrase "they logged their way..." This feels like a story that wants telling.

  12. What a wonderful way to chronicle your fascinating family history! It was so interesting to read about the generations and their perspectives. We take so much for granted now.

  13. Your history sounds fascinating. I like Kimberly's idea of writing these poems as a novel in verse, and Linda's on expanding some areas too.