Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Home

Our Home

Beyond these hellish heated days, late spring,
Pigments deepen their hues, colors surface.
Chlorophyll's still working, life's force she'll bring
To dominate landscape is green's purpose.

Spring gives way to summer's growing season :
Warm nights, warmer days, occasional rain ;
Sap flowing up new formed stalks, the reason
Plants create oxygen, Man's outright gain.

The browns of fall loom horizons over
A bountiful Earth spent of production.
Energy accumulates in sober
Soils building up for next year's growth action.

Why life ? Why us ? Life's process ours alone ?
It works ! We,re here ! Planet Earth is our home !

Ronald C. Downie
An English Sonnet

You Grace Your Garden

You Grace Your Garden

You grace your garden with flowers kept
As smiles on a fine face proud with care.
Each lead of day awaits the damp warm kiss
Of solar rays and gentle clouds that softy tear.

Not- wishful wanting draws sense to pleasure.
Not- hours idle make dreams fit your scheme.
Fabric of the Earth you're woven a women :
Twice mother, two score, a matron supreme.

Give you a lever that's proper in length,
Give you a fulcrum to set firm and strong,
Not only mountains, but Earth will move also,
And flowers, and children, and all souls at song.

Ronald C. Downie
For Sherri

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day - Memories of past friends

    In Memory Of James Albert Fulton

"... few adult persons can see nature." Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay on Nature, then he followed with, "There is a property in the horizon which no man has but whose eye can integrate all of the parts..." Al Fulton saw, Al saw all of the parts.

        Big Al

Uphill half hidden an A-Frame stands
Among Century Oaks straight and tall,
Tree strength drawn from rock and earth,
Cathedral canopies brace for winds of fall.
Downhill open fields make a western slope
So many years planted, spring love, fall hope.

You steward of the soil, the Earth Life Man,
Elixir for roots, champion God's Grand Plan.
Once you were so very straight and tall,
Strong with energy, at Nature's every call,

You are returned today back to the soil
Ashes to be spread on the love of your toil.

   Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Water - The Most Valuable Fluid In The World -

Water - The most valuable fluid in the World -

* The regulated control of water, especially within human populated urban areas, is an ongoing challenge for persons responsible for guaranteeing the quality and sufficient quantity of water for human consumption.

* Storm rain water eventually flows into natural drainage systems - creeks, streams, rivers, and ultimately seas and oceans - and for the best quality for the Planet should remain uncontaminated through human activity. 

* All water for human consumption must pass continuing tests to exceed quality limits acceptable to governmental agencies charged with setting standard.

* All sewage must be treated to accepted levels of purity before being returned into natural drainage systems. 

< A nagging problem incurred, especially in urban sewage collection systems, is something called I&I. >

* I&I stands for infiltration and inflow. Both cause an unnecessary increase in the amount of sewage needed to be treated during and after a rain event. 

* Infiltration is rain water inadvertently flowing into deficient piping inherent in all systems. This problem  is very difficult to find since infiltration can occur in a pipe in a house, from the house to the main trunk line, and even in trunk lines themselves. Suspect pipes are replaced in a never ending battle to make the system free from rain water entering it.

* Inflow is also rain water getting into the sewage system, but in this case, this inflow is not primarily inadvertent, it is caused by humans. In earlier times  houses drained their rain spouts into the newly constructed sewer systems, also sump pumps were piped into the sewage system, and cellar floor drains which took in seepage of rain water into cellars were also hooked in. By ordinance of most modern municipalities today these hook ups are illegal.

This unnecessary inflow, long tacitly overlooked, is
an area of deepening interest for keepers of the system. It is a must for you rate payers in the system to investigate your own circumstance and disconnect any illegal connections. 

The operators of our local sewage system plan to increase methods of surveillance targeted at inflow. A true control of inflow will have a positive effect on both the operation of the sewer system and the cost structure of operating it. Your involvement counts.

Ronald C. Downie, Chairman,
The Pottstown Municipal Authority

Friday, May 25, 2012

Highways In Life

Highways In Life

Ever wonder why highways must cross
One another, intersecting as they will,
Generally in quite opposite directions,
Seeking a quick escape from the other.

Not everyone goes the same direction,
Though homogeneous, we're individuals
Bent on pursuing a destination sought.
Is your's that differently from mine ?

Many are seekers of far off horizons, 
Seen through clear eyes, while traveling 
The highways which cross one another
In directions familiar or unknown to them.

Some seek a clearly defined destination,
Others are satisfied with the trip's lure.
Getting somewhere has its own merits, 
Travel for travel's sake is often desired.

Being of the latter persuasion, I trust
The road to be my instructor  of choice,
Leading me toward new horizons melding far
Off hills with lush valleys' verdant meadows.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hope's Eternal

Hope's Eternal

When we reserve our pent up energy, 
Like a coiled spring's release waiting.
How may acts provide spontaneity 
Of cause, if freedom's not awakening ?

Then, purpose trumps the lethargic malaise 
Controlling action, spiriting motion.
Directed energy moves in strange ways :
Creates leaders, stirs masses into action.

And then, the World has a chance to endure 
Shiftless rouge dictators, "hope's eternal".
Through education the path is secure ;
No knowledge is the hidden criminal.

The burden falls on each person's shoulders
To maximize minds, be informed soldiers.

Ronald C. Downie


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Talking Out Loud

Talking Out Loud

Talking the talk, wishing to walk the walk,
Brings full circle a need to act, not just wish.

Playing the game instead of gaming the play
Allows yourself a chance for personal growth.

The score of a game etched forever in print,
The way a game played is only in our memory.

We climb higher on stronger branched trees 
That anchor down while taking in sustenance.

Birth is the union of man's sperm, women's egg
Independent of emotions initiating their fusion.

Death looms over our shoulders like morning fog ;
We're sure it will lift, but will we see the sun ?

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, May 21, 2012

Circle Of Life

Circle Of Life

Joined hand and hip, an unbroken circle of life
Dances around the fire pit, in an endless chain
Pressing forever forward seeking the unknown,
Accepting bits and pieces, building knowledge.

The human race is caught up in fervent prayer
To myriads of deities seeking : grander cathedrals,
Higher mountain top monasteries, ornate robes,
Gold leafed hymnals, silver chalices, sweeter wine.

Forests and savannas, seek not, accepts life's terms :
Birth, struggle, growth, unfolding, reaching life's end.
The Circle realizes all life prospers to its potential
Half Life, then degrading becomes the spiraling down.

Even icons of faith's founding pillars never reached
Their nirvana of Half Life. Grossly cut down while
Still in unfolding periods, their rabid faithful anoint 
Their lost presence through images ever expanding.

Images were designed to press an emotional response
Bypassing Man's innate desire to think. Thinking, he  
Gains wisdom drawing him away from a blind faith.
Reading from The Book Of Life he found necessity.

For millions of years upright Man processed through 
The cycle of life creating The Circle surrounding us.
Those who sought power needed shackles to control 
Ignorant masses. Image based faith their answer.

Though still popular today, faith, continues to lose
Its underpinning as more people gain fruitful wisdom,
Which draws them into reading The Book Of Life,
While they join hand and hip expanding the Circle.

Ronald C. Downie 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Labyrinth's Omphalos

A Labyrinth's Omphalos

Enter at your own peril,
Caution, not too fast.
Seems meditative to those
Who slowly move forward
One step at a time, deliberate,
Like to a metronome's beat.
To the right, to the left, winding,
Ever winding, seeking a center's point.

Red robin alights, cocks his head,
Either listens or feels for a worm.
A hidden worm's movement makes 
A sound or makes a faint vibration.
He hops lightly, cocks his head,
Pecks the earth. A worm, maybe ?
Deliberate, poised, an outcome sought,
A calculated return pays dividends. 

Arriving at the center is half the effort ;
Reluctance to begin is the other half.
Slowly winding along the serpentine path
Allowing an open mind to dart and flit
Capturing memories, mulling adventure,
Muddled merging become quite cloudy.
As the sun peeks around a huge cloud
And breaks bright, the mind does similar.

Pearly luminescent bundles of spheres
Appear submerged along the water's edge.
Big and deep voiced the old bull frog 
Gently, for a moment, hovers over the
Eggs and clouds the water nearly opaque.
Older than thought, black dots begin life.
Billions of years evolving, born in water,
Then extending their life breathing in air.

Returning from the center is a little less
Deliberate, common the sighted destination,
Familiar and ordinary. Coming home, as would
A family's trip, felt. The more familiar the 
Surroundings, to mind and body comes ease.
Reflection rolls on and on tumbling in the mind.
We live within our mental state prodding memories,
Realizing facts, pulsating on our course of energy.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Changing Drivers

Changing Drivers

Into the emancipation of thought,
Innocently born, clambering escape
From the drudgeries of ordinary
People, an exceptional person 
Emerges through ingenuity and 
Spunk to become a public leader.

But the crucible holding their future
Spills from time to time its holdings
Onto written pages seers construct.
Fiction or oracle must pass inspection
Of those of inquisitive minds and such
Feelings that poetry or prose reveals.

The drumming which holds the beat,
The strings that arc to heaven's door,
The woodwinds which carries the tune,
The voices that peel away at sadness
Are pent up in a discordant population  
Struggling for their chance at survival.

To them, nothing rises to challenge 
A way of life long lived, well satisfied,
Tempered by experience, uncontested.
Miracle of the mind forgotten, ordinary
Life forces decisions to be crudely made, 
Unexamined, rather than knowledge based.

Leaders must weave their way through clutter
Left behind in the wake of earlier disciples.
Is pandering to get reelected a baton passed on,
Or-for the better good of all - a banner's made ?
Needed, exceptional people, those who will grasp
The reins, control the team, then change drivers.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Casey Elaine Downie Upon Graduation

Granddaughter, Casey , graduated from F&M College May 12,2012. May her future travels fulfill her life's desires.

Casey Upon Graduation

In its course a comet leaves a trail traceable
In the heavens clearly seen by Earth observers.
Centered within the orbit of your own ellipse is
A village core twenty two years forever evolving.

Ever expanding, noticeably as a comet's tail,
A village adds to it's numbers exponentially.
As an education expanded your mental ability,
Joining a work force now to expand associations.

You, at the core, must make visible your orbit
To everyone who comes to inspect your village.
From time immemorial, "it's the village stupid",
Evolving as wants and needs ply a way forward.

A comet spun heavenward by a planetary event
Is not unlike you, spun forward away from college
Into the world of work and life's achievements,
There, the real warmth of your own village, counts.

Always leaving a trail, you have acted like a comet,
Predictable in your orbit, calculating in your return.
Your strength lies in a reliability of good character
Counted on by each of the village's core assemblage.

Congratulations With All Our Love,
Nanny & Pop Pop

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Haiku 81

Haiku 81

Inglorious teams,
Played poorly, Tuesday, Philly -
Seats start to empty.

Equality rules, 
Gay rights finally get voice -
The World yet evolves. 

Satire, lobbying,
Is legalized graft, damn it -
"Votes For Sale " high bid.

Live within you're means, 
Mean people want your's and their's -
When's enough, enough ?

Make World your apple, 
Take a big bite, chew it well -
Envision success !

Blessed always are :
The meek, the mild, the true -
They'll finally rise.

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Farm Yard

The Farm Yard

As a pre-teenaged young boy I spent some of my summers at my father's parents house on Houck Road near Harmonyville, Chester County. The adjacent field was part of the Wade Farm and by crossing it you would come upon a bank barn, hog pens, chicken houses, and a fenced in farm yard where centered was usually a fairly large manure pile. Their farm house, just a short distance further on, was built over a wet spring which cooled the cellar during the summer that kept meat, eggs, and vegetables from spoiling and where they stored many shelves of jarred and canned items. It was a big stone house complete with a large walk in kitchen fireplace and, oh yes, water cress grew year round in the spring ditch exiting the cellar. The barnyard remains indelible in my memory. I clearly remember when I saw all of life's processes play out there, but especially, was butchering day.

I've often suggested that teenagers be exposed to a farm yard early on in their youth so their budding education would include how animal life reproduces. The universal acts of animal rutting, gestation, and birthing known well to farm children would, in my mind, benefit the whole population of our youth. In and around barn yards all of life's episodes play out, not only, that of reproduction, but also, the harvesting of animal flesh for human consumption, and getting of milk for the public's use. Here eggs are gathered while animal manure is also gathered up onto a pile so it heats up and composts so later it can be spread on the fields which grow both animal feed and vegetable edibles for humans. The basic cycle of life : birth, growth, death goes on year after year around the barn yard as it has for thousands of years without interruption. The only change is in the relative scale of the operation.

Most memorable was butchering day. Big kettles were hung over hot fires while large hooks were hung down from the sturdy bank barn upper floor beams which cantilevered out past the main stone barn wall some five feet out and about ten foot overhead. All the available large wooden and metal tubs were filled to the tops with clean water and all the farm buckets were scrubbed clean and set aside. 
A concrete apron under the overhang., extended out into the barnyard about five more feet then the end of the overhang, it was scrubbed down and hosed off. 

The Wade boys were in the butchering mood this day even though this turned out to be hard work and took all day. A young steer, an huge old hog, and a rather young calf were the candidates for todays gathering. From my vantage point sitting on the main swinging gate to the barn yard I saw the boys bring each animal into a chute, a very narrow ramp leading from an out building into the yard. They quickly sliced the calf's neck from ear to ear 
with a long sharp knife. Then they hooked a chain to the animal's back legs and dragged the carcass to the scrubbed concrete apron and hoisted it up to a hook. They placed buckets under the carcass to catch blood as they cut the belly from the chest bone to the anus and out spilled the animal's guts and entrails which they set aside in a tub. Blood drained as they sloped water on the inside of the carcass. Using a very sharp smaller knife one of the boys cut away at the skin while two others pulled the skin off the hide. The head was severed and set aside, later the tongue was removed and saved.

The young steer maybe twice as large was forced into the chute and he was shot in the head first before his throat was cut. It took a block and tackle to drag this dead animal to the apron and hoist his carcass up to a hanging position. The de-gutting process and the removing of his hide took longer than the first animal but was a similar operation. 

Mister Hog was even more eventful. He was almost too fat to squeeze into the chute but, once there, one of the boys put a gun barrel to its head and shot. Another Wade boy tried slicing the hogs throat but it bolted into the barnyard as two boys with long knives ran after it trying to finish the throat job. Finally, either from the bullet or the slicing the hog went down. This big fellow needed the block and tackle to hoist him up for butchering. After the removal of the hide the boys sliced off as much fat as they could and tossed it all into a large pot hanging over a fire pit, lard in the making. 

Into another pot over a fire went a menagerie of animal parts which eventually ended up, I'm told, as
sausage or scrapple. I remember they just threw on the manure pile any unwanted carcass pieces which flocks of birds swooped in to fight over. The carcasses were dissected into carry able sizes and taken either to the farmhouse kitchen or to the spring cellar below. A big meal was planned for Sunday when invited neighbors came to eat and go home with meat cuts they had ordered earlier. 

Many times I witnessed a chicken's head cut off, but watching an ageless process as is farm butchering sobered me up at a young age. Hunters and trappers do this all the time and think nothing of it. As do fisherman who clean their catch at the end of the  day. Thankfully humans are at the top of the food chain so we get to pick and choose what we kill so we can eat. The barnyard is a great place to learn about things in life generally hidden from modern day youngsters. Visit a working farm to see how the interdependent web of life exists.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, May 8, 2012



I nap more, but
Sleep evades me.
I dream more,
But awaken often.
Dreams remain
Unfinished, no endings.
Why is my life being
Interrupted this way ?
Is my book closed
Or merely dog eared ?
When my deep sleep comes
Will dreams tell then 
An ending to each story
And close out my life ?

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rock Run Creek, II

Rock Run Creek, II

My slice of Rock Run Creek flowed north to south
Crossing Houck Road at bottom of the dirt road hill.
Creeks wind their way through the countryside
Mining easiest cuts through the more soluble soils.
They have no design other than an ease of passage,
Getting to the bottom, eroding away, seeking oceans.

On Houck Road our house perched on a south running
Ridge that terminated at French Creek, St. Peters,
About four miles south. How many eons need pass
For all the eroded soils to filter away down stream ?
The valley from ridge top to ridge top maybe a half
Mile wide, a hundred feet deep, that's a lot of silt.

We perceive creeks as some topographic character
Designed in place like a canal drawn on a blueprint.
They're not, no way, they meander to Nature's Laws.
Gravity draws water down to its very lowest level,
Soils dilute in water while heavier particles suspend
Tumbling along lightly grinding their way, scarifying.

A wondrous fluid, water, is so soft, yet so mighty,
Just look at the Grand Canyon and interpolate it.
Try picking up a handful of water and feel it filter Through your fingers, watch water dissolve flavors Like tea and sugar for your first morning's sipping. And then, return to a vision of a deep valley and a Strong stream meandering through the countryside. 
Imagine the enormous power and energy needed to Cut and carry away all the soil that at one time Filled the valley. How many millions or billions of Years was the span of time needed to accomplish 
This grand task ?

Just look around you, those of you who live in these Foothills of The Appalachian Mountains, and you'll
See hills and valleys everywhere. How did they get
There ? The answer is, yes, by the power of lowly 
Water. Water over time flowing downhill is a very,
Very powerful, exceedingly so, excavator. 

Rock Run Creek is still there working away as it has all these years without a break from its labor. She
Will be working away long after we're all gone. If 
Only we humans had such tenacity to stick to the
The purpose of our labor. Never under estimate the
Vast power of water since you already know our
Bodies are made up of mostly water. Water is truly
A precious fluid, treat it well.

Ronald C. Downie

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Don't Let Up

Don't Let Up

Once a templet is set it needs further testing - By
the informative articles printed in The Mercury Pottstown's new Community Garden on Chestnut St. is a huge success in bringing people together for a common purpose. Planned and organized well, we can only hope the vegetable gardens will produce eatables throughout the summer and deep into fall.

Our family gardened when I was a youngster. Early on in the spring the project was Dad's  with my brother and I as his helpers. Of course Andy and I spaded the ground after spreading winter ashes and leaf mold from the woods over the whole plot. Dad did the fine raking of the loosened soil and laid out with string lines how the planting rows would look.

With the coming of summer came the multiple lives of the weeds. The garden became not Dad's now, but ours, with him picking any ripe vegetables while my brother and I did all the hoeing and hand weeding. By fall the garden became, your's in Dad's mind, so it seemed. His interest waned over the summer, I believe, because a garden can become quit messy and needing a lot of work : weeding, hoeing, watering, straw mulching under the tomatoes, removing spent plants. The clean uniformity of fresh spring ground lost its appeal as summer advanced and the randomness of growing took over the project to Dad's displeasure, who was a draftsman by profession.  He needed sharp clean lines and a measured regularity of plant spacings.

I can only hope there aren't too many Dads like mine but rather a lot of worker bees to look after the new gardens. Further, I hope this project can be replicated at each Pottstown school site throughout the borough. School locations are spread out all over the town and certainly each has a relatively small area which could be dedicated to a Community Garden. All it takes is the asking without listening to "NO" as an answer from administrators. 

What about any of the churches which have open lawn space just being mowed now, wouldn't vegetables grow especially well at these sacred grounds ? Raised bed growing can occur on top of hard surfaces even parking lots since growing takes place in amended soils piled above the ground surface. Raised bed growing is more like growing in pots where the roots confine themselves within the soil median rather than growing in a plowed soil like a traditional farmer would prepare. For years we've heard of roof top growing which is essentially raised bed growing but up on the top of buildings.

A successful templet has been unfolded and, in my mind, should be replicated throughout the town as far as the energy and interest of interested citizens will take it. I compliment those who brought this project from a thought to fruition through dogged determination. Thank You !

Ronald C. Downie

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rock Run Creek

Rock Run Creek

Upland creeks play peek-a-boo with us,
Quickly charging in concert with a rain,
Drying up to a trickle in summer's drought,
They drain swamp meadows, they trickle down.

Rock formations, stone boulders of every size
Sculpt the landscape along Rock Run Creek.
Ebbing and flowing, running water pools in little
Ponds edged in muddy sandbars ever changing.

My innocence was rudely interrupted at a pond
One spring day. Farm cats are prolific breeders
Out near Harmonyville, Chester County, everywhere.
How does a farmer gain control of these felines ?

Hookie and Kenny, the younger Wade farm boys,
Were carrying a burlap bag that sagged quite low 
As they approached the deep pool of water where
I was skipping flat stones across that morning.

"Don't watch, Ronnie, if you don't want to." they
Hollered. But I watched in wonder, aghast, amazed. 
The bag sunk quickly out of sight, the newly born,
Sightless kittens made sounds, squirmed, drowned.

I was skipping stones across the rock strewn creek
When a stone weighted bag of newly born kittens
Sunk quickly as it was tossed in, without remorse.
Stones don't talk, but they too observe and wonder.

Ronald C. Downie

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Of Flint, Be

Of Flint, Be

Would my words ignite, if I of flint, be ?
Would my verse billow, if west winds blew free ?

Would rhymes ring loudly, as iron strikes steel ?
Would my muse enthuse, if less wordy, feel ?

Would couplets surface, if in magma, yet ?
Would rhythm inspire, if no fuse, be set ?

Would craters irrupt, or heaven's poems, spew ?
Would Earth's mantel crack, if posies were true ?

Could I attest these improbable dreams -
Will you see through my insidious schemes ?

Ronald C. Downie

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Footsteps Of A Thousand Generations

Again we return to the power of running water known to us as The Schuylkill River. Who can walk in the footsteps which preceded those who walk today ? Well, all of us can, but can we honor the River in a style former users did ? Let's hope so !

Footsteps Of A Thousand Generations 

Foot steps of a thousand generations
Formed my path's early morning walk
Along the flowing river, among the foul,
Between leafing flora, seeking sight of 
Critters , different not that much from
Those seen by our late ancestors, who
Walking in their own good time communed 
With our very own Schuylkill River Mother.

Today's steps, increasingly halting and measured,
Drew me, while I very slowly shuffled along,
To observe a newly formed large family of geese
Soldering in a group their goslings while skirting
Both strong swift waters and dark hidden shoals,
Those acts, teaching their family potential dangers .

Nature repeats, repeats, repeats, always repeating, Which forms the strong waves of the living tide 
That propels what we call the themes of a good life.

Ronald C. Downie 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flood Twins

The Schuylkill River always acts just like a normal river, accepting the weather as it develops no matter what. The River, though, has no control over how the public treats (respects)its major natural asset to the displeasure of many users. The River series continues.

Flood Twins

Twice this week the river Schuylkill rose
And flowed brown muddy where she chose :
Water charging, frenzied rapids dance,
Backwaters calm, sneaky their advance .
Rising ? Receding ? Gauged with a stone
Set water's edge, for a time left alone .

Not identical were these flooding twins,
Apocalyptic ? Yes, shows humans' sins .

The First : 

Floating styrofoam, man's sallow garbage,
Pock marked the river's surface, carnage,
As pusses acne on a fair, young, soft face .
The Schuykill, a life sustainer, in disgrace .

The Second :

Water cleansed of visual degradation
Recalls an era before coal fed the nation,
When early Americans native to this turf
Worshiped at council their deity, Mother Earth .
She, who connects hard rocks with trees,
Listens to song birds, admires honey bees,
Blesses tall mountains, stars, and pure waters,
Connects one to all, especially fathers to daughters.

   Ronald C . Downie  

(1993, late November early December,floods)