Author: Arpeggio of Redwings—Chesapeake Seasons: A Guide to Joy
In Chesapeake Country, Audrey Scharmen found her comfort. She had lived in arid places.
Her childhood home was Dustbowl Kansas, during the Great Depression. Her marriage to military pilot Merrill left her, often alone with her growing family, in deserts. As Merrill aged out of flying and moved up the hierarchy, Audrey played a more public role of military wife.
Then they retired to Chesapeake country. Here she would say—did say—she found her muse.
She was missing. Gone. Presumed dead. Yet she has been here all along—or so she says. It was I who was faithless. I who fell prey to apathy.
I who failed to feel her gentle nudging of the psyche. For she is always everywhere. She is a composite of all the daughters of Zeus, the very visage of nature. She is the face of the new-blown poppy in my garden ... In her years in Chesapeake Country, Audrey planted a garden in nourishing soil and found her hand asa painter and voice as a writer.There,she wrote, sge reaffirmed her earliest vows in the first of many odes to the gentle side of nature. She saw, she listened, and she has never ceased.
Audrey filed notebooks. She reached audiences through the thankless work of freelance writing. Then she bumped into New Bay Times, a new weekly newpaper devoted to reporting the issues, introducing the people and telling the stories of Chesapeake Country. In New Bay Times, her stories found a home. She contributed essays for over 13 years, from 1993 to 2006, winning prizes and readers’ hearts.
Her New Bay Times essays, collected here, document her encounters with nature as a prism, throwing light in its many colors onto her times and experiences. Audrey wrote —with wry wonder —of her awakening to nature’s daily miracles. The miracle of words in sync with experience and emotion reawakens wonder in her readers. WithAudrey’s wordsin our minds, weask, World, what have I been missing?
The ailment—missing life’spoint—is as perennial as the cure: Audrey’s well-tempered meditations. Arpeggio of Redwings—Chesapeake Seasons: A Guide to Joycollects the 60 essays with evocative photos, many original.
My prayer for a new millennium
There is a young soul in this worn old receptacle.
Whoever is in charge of such things: Give it to a golden child with a lean tall barefoot mother in a flowered dimity dress. A woman with Nordic eyes and sun-bleached hair and a lilting laugh.
Leave them a dusty country road where blue morning glories and sunflowers embrace. A road that leads through riverside fields where plump sweet potatoes lie deep in rich black soil, waiting to be dug.
Leave a cottonwood to be scaled and a rippling waist-high sea of grass, brimming with meadowlarks, to explore beneath the wide clean sky where crows converse.
Leave a vintage green mason jar to fill with autumn-drowsy crickets and the last of summer’s grasshoppers for fishermen on the riverbank who will pay a penny for each.
Leave arpeggios of redwings amid fuzzy cattails in the backwater where mother and child primly tuck up their skirts and wade happily hand in hand.
Leave some ripe black walnuts to be carried home with late roses and sweet potatoes bundled in folds of dimity. Leave then such simple precious things, that they may begin again.