Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Two “Heaven”ly Poems From March 1988

April 25, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender



Some poems come out so short, I just call them “thoughts”:


Heaven is a hot summer
day with a bottomless
glass of Coke and ice.
-March 1988
If Heaven
truly is a Paradise,
then my Daddy
is at his Colorado cabin
and telling anyone who’ll
listen about his wife and kids.
written by t. michael pender  3/88
©1988 T. Michael Pender.  All rights reserved.

Heavenly Motives, Heavenly Hash

April 7, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Happy Lenten season!  I must admit that, prior to last year, I knew very little about the hows and wherefores of Lent.  All I really knew was that Christians give up something for a few weeks.  In college, and a few Lents afterward, I used to joke that I was giving up sex for Lent, because I wasn’t having any, anyway.

Only last year did I learn more about the mechanics of this season, and put forth an honest effort.  In doing so, I ended up learning even more.

I found myself in church last Ash Wednesday, although I must also admit that I had no clue that it was, in fact, Ash Wednesday.  My church at that time held simple dinners on Wednesday evenings, and I partook on occasion.  This particular Wednesday, I was asked if I was staying for the holiday service, and while trying to hide my surprise, said, “Sure!”

During the short gathering, I learned that Christians give up doing something they normally love doing, and are meant to then spend the time they would normally devote to this activity communing with the Lord.  It is something that should be a personal decision, and something they should not share with anyone else but God.  I was very moved and intrigued by this, and made a decision to give it an honest try.

(According to the rules, I’m not really supposed to be telling you the rest of this, but I hope in passing on my lesson, I’ll get a pass.  Also, someone with more power than I broke the rule first, so hopefully, he will be my scapegoat.  More on that later.)

It just so happens that my birthday falls during Lent.  Last year, I took a Monday off and headed to my mom’s winter home in Florida for a long weekend of “mom time.”  On my last day there, which happened to be the big day, Mom had ice cream and cake for me and several neighbor friends.  It was a very nice time, with only one little glitch: I had given up ice cream for Lent.

In retrospect, it may not have been the wisest of moves to give up ice cream during a period of time that includes your birthday.  Keep in mind while pointing and laughing that I made this decision weeks before the event, and prior to making plans to see Mom.

So, I had a conundrum for a few seconds.  Do I politely explain that I can’t actually eat the wonderful Heavenly Hash ice cream that she had specifically bought because the amazing combination of chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, chocolate chips and almonds is my favorite?  Or do I throw sacrilegious caution to the wind, and dig in?  I decided not to insult my mom’s efforts, but it wasn’t an easy decision.  I spent the next six days sweating it, until I got back to church.

During the next sermon, my pastor told us his Lent story, which included what he chose to give up, and why it was a funny thing in the weeks that followed.  After the service, I approached him and began, “I realize I’m not supposed to be telling you this, but since you told everyone what you gave up, I don’t think I’m going to be in too much trouble.”  He laughed, and I explained the Lent/birthday issue, ending with the exaggerated puzzler, “Am I going to Hell?”

“Actually, no!” he replied quite enthusiastically.  It seems that it is a far greater moral crime to refuse a host’s hospitality than it is to keep your Lenten vows.  Leave it to Jesus to protect us from punishment for eating Mom’s ice cream.  Again, in a way I’m breaking a rule by sharing this tale, but I hope it teaches others about the intricate contract that is Lent, and how sometimes hurting your mom’s feelings is a greater sin than breaking a promise to Jesus.

Duck Side Story

March 30, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

Ah, spring in East Lansing!  The sun is warmer, the days are longer, the skirts are shorter . . . the ducks are crueler.

I made a friend in Spanish class during my freshman spring term.  Her name was Jennifer, though she preferred “A.J.”  We had similar senses of offbeat humor, so we started to hang around each other after class, and loiter about the campus.  It was never a romantic relationship, but certainly one of attraction: we liked each other’s brain.

That March, we were ambling along the Red Cedar River, which snakes across Michigan State’s campus.  The ice hadn’t quite left completely, but what was left could never support animal weight unless you were as light as a duck.  The ducks seemed to know this.  A.J. and I stopped at a sitting spot, just by the point where the ice and freed water met.  Here, we were entertained by a sort of perverse rite of spring in the animal kingdom.

All the drakes were gathered on the fragile ice, while all the ducks were kicking their feet in the water.  The two cliques seemed to not care about each other’s presence for some time, and I joked that it was like a junior high school dance.  All the boys stood around talking about dancing with the cute girls, and all the girls stood around talking about dancing with the cute boys, but no one hit the dance floor until fifteen minutes before the event ended.  I also likened the scene to West Side Story, with its two battling factions.  Here, the predatory males were clearly the “sharks” and the swimming-for-their-lives females were the “jets.”

Suddenly, there was action!  Two drakes meandered away from their cronies and dropped into the water.  They swam nonchalantly to the girls, one in a roundabout arc and the other in a straight line.  As the males neared, the females seemed to get agitated.  They bustled around en masse until the boys were close enough to corner one duck.  Not surprisingly, the male who swam in a straight line mounted the female without so much as a “Good day, madam.”  The wingman (quite literally!) shooed the other girls away, then turned to, I suppose, make sure his buddy’s intended didn’t get away.

It was pretty awful.  Every few seconds during the “egg-making,” the male would plunge the female’s head underwater.  She’d come up shaking her head and quacking quite energetically, then the male would plunge her under again.  I said, “My God, it’s ‘impregnate or die’ with these guys!”

Once the male had finished his project, he and his buddy went back to their gang, supposedly to smoke cigarettes and brag about how awesome they were.  The female, still spitting and fretting, went back to her sorority and was surrounded by her girlfriends.  I imagine it was time to console her with statements of how cold and uncivilized men were.  I’m sure one told her that the guy probably wouldn’t even call when the eggs hatched.

Nature, they say, has a plan.  A rhythm that works.  This is fine and dandy in the wide scope of things, but when you get close enough to witness actual incidents, you wonder.  Does making a new generation of ducks really have to involve date rape?