AMR 2020 Holiday Special Part 2


Hazy Rain 0:04
This is a solstice tale from the Native American Miwok Tribe. Why Hummingbird has a Red Throat. At the beginning, when the First People live on top of the great canopy of the sky, the sky had four holes in it: one in the East, another in the South, one in the West, another in the North. The sky holes open and close rapidly all the time. The first people used their magic to come down through the holes to change themselves into the creatures, the plants and the things of the world. So when our people were created, they had oak trees and flat stones on which to grind their acorns. They had reeds for houses and baskets. They learned from the sun how to shoot arrows like rays. They learned to live together like minnows swim and mice nest. But Chaka, the Marsh Wren was an orphan boy… no one liked him. The people gave Chaka food sometimes, sometimes they even gave him crawfish to eat. But they always made Chaka feel like an outsider. So Chaka stayed under the cover of the bulrush and the sage grass, only appearing at dawn and dusk again to ask for more. Chaka grew more ashamed and the people grew stingier. “Get your own food Chaka,” they said, “We work hard. Why don’t you? It’s not our job to feed you even if you are just a kid.” Marsh Wren’s eyes filled with tears of anger. The white stripes over his eyebrows clever. “If you don’t feed me,” he yelled, “I will shoot out the Sun.” Everyone laughed, “Yeah, right Chaka. Go ahead.” “I will,” rattled the Marsh Wren. “Do it!” said the people, clearly not believing him. They turned away. Marsh Wren did shoot out the sun with an arrow as sharp as his beak. As though it had been a bladder filled with light, the Sun popped and all the light disappeared. The whole world became dark. No Sun, no Moon, no stars, no fire. Everything was dark. The dark seemed to last for years. No one could find food because no one could see. Everyone was starving. All this time, Oye, Coyote Man was thinking about how to get the sun and the light back again. At length he saw something way up in the eastern sky through the hole that opened and closed as fast as a woodpecker wrapped on a dead tree trunk. “I think I see light,” said Oye to himself. He squinted his eyes now there was no doubt. “Yes!” he exalted. But a moment later, oh, he’s tail dropped. “Now, how am I going to get way up there to get the light?” he asked himself. Glumly, Oye began to pick his way through a tangle of old blackberry vines that led to a tiny stash of acorn mush. “Ouch. Oh, ouch,” he yelped as the thorns scratched his nose and his soft pads. Oye remember the good old days when the path beneath him was blanketed with what curling ferns. The sun’s beautiful light has slanted through the lens of the gnarled live oaks now too hidden by the dark. “Oh rots,” muttered Oye. “Rots and Sots!” “Rots yourself!” answered a high pitch voice followed by a vrrrp. “Huh? What? Who’s there?” said Coyote Man. He heard another vrrrp sound. “Oh, hey Hummingbird, how’s it going, Kulupe?” Coyote Man was glad to have someone to talk to. “Vrrrp! Same old thing, Coyote Man, same old thing, you know that,” said Hummingbird. “If we just had some Light. “Yeah.” Oye agreed automatically. Then near his eyes he felt the teeny wind started by with his wings. Suddenly he could picture his cinnamon purple and green colored little friend. The wings vibrating likr twin halos. He remembered Kulupe darting through the air faster than a fish flints in shallow water. “Hey, Hummingbird. I’ve got a great idea!” “Vrrrp!” “Kulupe!” sputtered Oye, “Guess what I just saw, just now. Light, Kulupe, light. I saw light way high up in the sky, way too high for me to get… but you Hummingbird- You could get it in a second!” “You saw like Coyote Man?” a little voice was incredulous. “Where?” “Up high, Hummingbird. Really! Go look, I know you can bring it back for us.” The tiny wind of Kulupe’s wings stopped for a moment. Oye could imagine his friend hesitating. Then he heard a reassuring vrrrp! And he knew Hummingbird was splitting the black air into a steep climb to the top of the sky. “It would be crazy not to try!” shouted Kulupe, but he was already too far away for Coyote Man to hear. Up, up, up rushed Kulupe, until he too can see the dab of light blinking inside the mouth of the hole in the eastern sky. Nearer and nearer he sped until his heart beat wildly with his own daring. He shot through the hole and tore off a piece of the blazing orange light on the other side. “Vrrp! I got it!” yelled Kulupe. He tucked the fire under his chin and he hung for a moment in the air, luxuriating in the heat. But suddenly, the sounds of giant wings flapping filled the space around him and the burst of fear without even looking to see who or what might be following him. He raced back down toward the hole in the sky. Through it he flung the fire. Then he swooped after it. All around him the air turned pink and blue. The fire he carried swelled round as a puff ball and it sent arrows of light down to earth below. People gathered on the shores of the bay cheering and Coyote Man whooped and howled, even Chaka the Marsh Wren muddered with pleasure “Kut-Kt-Terrr!” he said. Kulupe, now glitteringly graceful in the light of a new Sun sped toward his nest, his a feathers shone as they had in the old days: metallic bronze-green, jewel-like purple, and rich golden cinnamon. But when Kulupe modestly lifted his head to acknowledge the happiness of everyone below the feathers on his throat against which he carried the light were tinged a new brilliant scarlet, the color of Sunfire. And so Hummingbird is marked to this very day.

Bonnie Ralston 6:41
A poem submitted by Kim Lupachino, Middlebrook, Virginia.

Winter is here, it’s that time of year.
I have memories special and dear.
So lend me your ear and I’ll share some of my years.
In my younger years I would gaze out at the snow and plan my days.
Then into my boots and mittens!
To the snow, I was a smitten!
Out of bed and onto the sleds.
Sister, brother and all of my friends.
Snow angels, ice skating, the fun was awaiting.
Snow mobiling and ice fishing, all the things winter was a dishing.
Cross country skiing to keep me in condition.
A child if our own and winter to behold.
The magic of the season.
Jesus is the reason.
When the snow begins to fall some people get grumpy and the going gets bumpy.
But no matter how long I live, I pray the Good Lord gives….
Snow, a blessing to the earth.
Snow, a peaceful reminder of our youth.
Memories to last a lifetime, family, friends, fun!
It’s Snow Time!


Sage Tanguay 8:19
Ode to an Apple Tree by James Clay

You fell down in an

Icy winters wind. Never

more to bloom again.


Benjamin Hindman 8:34

The Christmas Day Kitten, by James Herriot. Christmas can never go by without my remembering a certain little cat. I first saw her when I called to see one of Mrs. Pickering much loved basset hounds. I looked in some surprise at the furry creature moving quietly down the hall. “I didn’t know you had a cat,” I said to Mrs. Pickering, who is a plumpish pleasant faced woman. Mrs. Pickering smiled, “We haven’t really Debbie is a stray. She comes here two or three times a week and we give her some food. I don’t know where she lives.” “Do you ever get the feeling that she wants to stay with you?” I asked. “No,” Mrs. Pickering shook her head. “She’s a timid little thing just creeps in, has some food, then slips away. She doesn’t seem to want to let me help her in any way.” I looked at the little tabby cat again. “But she isn’t just having food today.” “It’s a funny thing. But every now and again she pops through into the sitting room and sits by the fire for a few minutes. It’s as though she was giving herself a treat.” The little cat was sitting very upright on the thick rug that lay in front of the fireplace in which the coals glowed inflamed. The three bassets were already lying there but they seem to use to Debbie because two of them sniffed her in a bored manner and the third merely cocked a sleepy eye at her before flopping back to sleep. Debbie made no effort to curl up or wash herself or do anything other than gaze quietly ahead. This was obviously a special event in her life – a treat. Then, suddenly, she turned and crept from the room without a sound and was gone. “That’s just the way it is with Debbie,” said Mrs. Pickering laughing. “She never stays more than 10 minutes or so. Then she’s off.” I often visited the Pickering home and I always looked for the little cat. On one occasion, I spotted her nibbling daintily from a saucer at the kitchen door. As I watched, she turned and almost floated on light footsteps into the hall, then through into the sitting room. Debbie settled herself in the middle of the pile of Basset hounds in her usual way, upright, still, and gazing into the glowing fire. This time I tried to make friends with her, but she leaned away as I stretched out my hand. However I talked to her softly and I managed to stroke her cheek with one finger. Then it was time for her to go and once outside the house, she jumped onto the stone wall and down the other side. The last I saw was the little Tabby figure floating away across the grassy field. “I wonder where she goes,” I murmured. “That’s something we’ve never been able to find out,” said Mrs. Pickering. It was three months later that I next heard from Mrs. Pickering. And it happened to be Christmas morning. “I’m so sorry to bother you today of all days,” said Mrs. Pickering, apologetically. “Don’t worry at all,” I said. “Which of the dogs needs attention?” “It’s not the dogs. It’s Debbie. She’s come to the house and there’s something very wrong. Please come quickly.” I drove through the empty Market Square. The snow was thick on the road and on the roofs of the surrounding houses. The shops were closed, but the pretty colored lights to the Christmas trees winked in the windows. Mrs. Pickering’s house was beautifully decorated with tinsel and holly and the rich smell of turkey and sage and onion stuffing wafted from the kitchen. But she had a very worried look on her face as she led me through to the sitting room. Debbie was there. But she wasn’t sitting up right in her usual position. She was lying quite still, and huddled close to her lay a tiny kitten. I looked down and amazement. “What have we got here?” “It’s the strangest thing,” Mrs. Pickering reply. “I haven’t seen it for several weeks. And then she came in about two hours ago, staggered into the kitchen and she was carrying the kitten in her mouth. She brought it in here and laid it on the rug. Almost immediately I could see that she wasn’t well. Then she lay down like this and she hasn’t moved since.” I knelt on the rug and passed my hand over Debbie’s body which Mrs. Pickering had placed on a piece of sheet. She was very, very thin and her coat was dirty. I knew that she didn’t have long to live. “Is she ill, Mr. Herriot?” asked Mrs. Pickering and a trembling voice. “Yes, yes, I’m afraid so. But I don’t think she is in any pain.” Mrs. Pickering looked at me and I saw there were tears in her eyes. And she knelt beside Debbie and stroked the cat’s head while the tears fell on the dirty fur . “Oh, the poor little thing. I should have done more for her!” I spoke gently, “Nobody could have done more than you. Nobody could have been Kinder. And see she’s brought her kitten to you, hasn’t she?” “Yes, you are right she has.” Mrs. Pickering reached out and lifted up the tiny bedraggled kitten. “Isn’t it strange? Debbie knew she was dying. So she brought her kitten here. And on Christmas Day.” I bent down and put my hand on Debbie’s heart. There was no beat. “I’m afraid she has died.” I lifted the feather light body, wrapped it in the piece of sheets and took it out to the car. When I came back, Mrs. Pickering was still stroking the kitten. The tears had dried and she was bright eyed as she looked at me. “I’ve never had a cat before,” she said. I smiled. “Well, it looks as though you’ve got one now.” And she certainly had the kitten grew rapidly into a sleek, handsome and bouncy tabby cat and Mrs. Pickering called him buster. He wasn’t timid like his little mother and he lived like a king. And with the ornate collar he always wore, looked like one too. I watched him grow up with the light. But the occasion that always stays in my mind was the following Christmas Day, a year after his arrival. I was on my way home after visiting a farmer with a sick cow when I was looking forward to my Christmas dinner. Mrs. Pickering was at her front door when I passed her house, and I heard her call out, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Herriot! Come in and have a drink to warm you up.” I had a little time to spare so I stopped the car and went in. In the house, there was all the festive cheer of last year in the same glorious whiff of sage and onion stuffing. But this year there was no sorrow. There was Buster! He was darting up to each of the basset hounds in turn, ears pricked eyes twinkling dabbing a paw them and then streaking away. Mrs. Pickering laughed, “Buster does tease them so he gives them no peace.” She was right. For a long time the dogs had led a rather sedate life. Gentle walks with their mistress, plenty of good food and long snoring sessions on the rugs and armchairs. Then Buster arrived. He was now dancing up to the youngest dog again, head to one side, asking him to play. When he started boxing with both paws It was too much for the basket who rolled over with a cat and a wrestling game. “Come into the garden,” said Mrs. Pickering. “I want to show you something.” She lifted a hard rubber ball from the sideboard and we went outside. She threw the ball across the lawn and Buster bounded after it over the frosty grass, his tabby coat gleaming in the sun. He siezed the ball in his mouth, brought it back to his mistress, dropped it at her feet and waited. Mrs. Pickering through it and again Buster brought it back. I gasped, “A retriever cat!” The baskets looked on unimpressed. Nothing would ever make them chase a ball. But Buster did it again and again as though he would never tire of it. Mrs. Pickering turned to me, “Have you ever seen anything like that?” “No,” I replied. “He is a most remarkable cat.” We went back into the house where she held Buster close to her laughing is the big cat purred loudly. Looking at him, so healthy and contented I remembered his mother who had carried her tiny kitten to the only place of comfort and warmth that she had ever known. Mrs. Pickering was thinking the same thing because she turned to me and although she was smiling, her eyes were thoughtful. “Debbie would be pleased,” she said. I nodded, “Yes, she would. It was just a year ago today. She brought him in, wasn’t it?” “That’s right,” She hugged Buster again. “The best Christmas present I’ve ever had!”


Frank Johnson 17:44

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy. A poem about the close of the year.

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.


Sage Tanguay 19:20

Allegheny Mountain Radio received the following letter from Barbara Jackson Campbell:

It was December 1st, 1953 and I was in my 7th grade math class, when there was a knock on the door. When the teacher opened it I was surprised to see my mother standing there, because she could not drive and she never came to the school. I knew immediately that something was very wrong. When I went out of the room to talk with her, she told me my father, Hugh Jackson, had been killed in the coal mine at Sharp’s Knob that day. I left school with her in a taxi and we went to Marlinton Elementary School to pick up my two brothers and one sister. One younger neighbor was at home with a neighbor. 

We were all so devastated. It seemed like a bad dream, but one we could not wake up from. 

When we got home, friends and neighbors started coming to express their sympathy and bring food. The next few days seemed like a blur, but somehow we got through the funeral and burial. We went back to school, trying to concentrate on our schoolwork, but it was hard. In the evening, we were always expecting him to come through the door, covered with coal dust, and laughing as we checked his lunch bucket to see if there were any cookies or goodies left in it. The cold days of December, long and dreary, dragged on. There would not be very much for Christmas that year, because there was not any money without Daddy’s paycheck. 

A few days before Christmas, someone knocked on our door. It was one of the officials from the mine. He had a large turkey and a check for a substantial amount. He said all of the miners who worked on Daddy’s shift had donated a day of their pay to us. It was like a miracle that came true. Mom was able to buy Christmas presents for us, but she kept most of the money to begin construction of a new home in the spring. Later, she was able to borrow money from the bank to complete it. About two years later, we moved into a two-story house with a coal furnace in the basement and we did not have to be cold anymore – sometimes snow had blown through the cracks of our old house. It was used as a chicken house when we moved out. 

Most of those miners have passed away now, but a few of them are still living. We want them to know how grateful we were for their unselfish generosity and we will never forget it.  – Barbara Jackson Campbell


Hazy Rain 21:40

Dream ended, I went out, awake

To new fallen snow in the dark

Stainless on road and field, no track

Yet printed on my day of work.


I hear the wild ones muttering

Assent their dark arrival made

At dawn, gray dawn on dawn gray wing

Outstretched shadowless and that shade


Down from high distances arrived

Within the shelter of the hill;

The river shuddered as they cleaved

Its surface, floated, and were still

Poem by Wendell Berry 1982.


Sage Tanguay 22:18

A haiku by Doug Bernier


Brad Hertko 22:21

White crystal sparkle

First-of-season cold, sharp breath

Winter has arrived


Scott Smith 22:33

A poem from the 1990 Christmas card of Phil Watts from Marquette, Michigan.


Quiet December evenings

Distant melodies of familiar carols

The chime of a bell

A vision of persons

Unconditional smiles and greetings

   And a dollar for the poor.



Another day

Return to the daily round

Time clocks and deadlines

“Me” and “mine”

Sidewalk silence

   And a penny for the poor.


But …


Jesus Christ is born


In us

Every day is Christmas!


Sage Tanguay 23:20

A haiku by Brad Hertko

Dark mighty mountains

Shrouded with forests and fog

Wind’s breath caressing


Hazy Rain 23:33

the nebulous glare of the moon 

glinted off of the fresh pad of snow

awaiting its first footprints

of the day


there was a bite to the air

frozen waves of mist danced aglow 

as nests of white fall in the sway


the sun sat on the mountain unaware

while the pines wished the old wind would not blow

so their crown could catch a ray


the silent statue drank in the glare

while all of the growth slows

we always make it through the grey


Sage Tanguay 24:06

Thank you for listening to Allegheny Mountain Radio’s Holiday Special We would like to thank Alice Arbuckle, Doug Bernier, James Clay, Barbara Jackson Campbell, Benjamin Hindman. Frank Johnson, Denise Kinsinger, Kim Lupachino, Hazy Rain, Pat Saunders, and Phil Watts, as well as all of the AMR staff that made this project possible. In the background, we’ve been listening to the music of The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky as performed by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Wohlert. Please stay tuned for our holiday radio play.


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