Jon and I just got back from taking Mary Kellogg out for her birthday. Mary is one of those admirable women. After seeing her I always think “That’s how I want to be when I’m her age.” (She’s 82 today) She lives alone in an old farm house on a quiet dirt road, volunteers in the community, has lots of friends, is connected to her family, is always up for something new, mows her own lawn, gardens and writes poetry.
Mary has two poetry books, (with a third on the way, we saw some of her new poems at dinner) My Place on Earth and Whistling Woman both with photos by Jon in them. Song At Milking is one of my favorites.
Song At Milking by Mary Kellogg
Dad was a quiet man
especially around the cows
evening chores begin
he pats first cow gently
and settles on the three legged stool
resting his soft farmers hat against her thigh
begins to pull the milk down
silver milk bucket resonates zing zing on metal
I am watching from the doorstep, feet flat on cement
warm moist scent of hay and cows wrap around me
cows wait stoically
grinding hay and grain in sliding motion
I like it here I start to whistle
Dad says Whistling women and crowing hens
are no good for mice and men
smiling he says, My mother used to sing.
She had a beautiful voice
The neighbors loved to hear her singing in the garden
Did you ever sing? I ask
Used to, sometimes.
Will you sing a song for me?
He begins, Yankee Doodle went to town riding on a pony
put a feather in his cap and called it macaroni
Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle dandy
mind the music and the dance and with the girls be handy
in bubble of mirth I whistle Dad’s tune up the step
and out the door
Mary’s books are available at Battenkill Books
12 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Mary Kellogg”
I love her poems. They really sing to my soul.
this reminds me of our family’s version of “Whistling Woman”. My Granny Bowles (great-grandmother) used to throws rocks at any of her her hens that crowed, and scold any of her granddaughters who whistled. “A whistling woman and a crowing hen will always come to some bad end.” The message–stay in your place, don’t try to do what a man does. My mom repeated this story several times to me growing up. I hated the idea of rocks being thrown at hens for crowing.
That’s it Gaye, Thanks for the great story.
Happy Birthday to Mary! I love the photo on the cover of her book – priceless.
She’s on our little chest in our living room. I remember how flattered she was when we had her sign it. I love her poetry and admire her so much. Happy Birthday Mary!
Yeah, Cindy, That’s one of the few times Mary gets a little flustered.
Happy Birthday, Mary! Thank you for posting this, Maria. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary and hearing her read several poems at your October art show. What a special woman she is – an inspiring role model who shows well that one can continue to blossom regardless of the number of one’s years. I purchased her books at the show and have enjoyed reading her poems since then. I wish her many more years of poems and happy birthdays!
I’ll pass it on Sara
Reminds me of the bumper sticker: Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History. I whistle unabashedly. Happy Birthday, Mary; whistle a happy tune!
Mary’s poems are picture frames that we can all step into…
Anxious for her next book.
I’ll let her know Dorothy.
I can hear Mary reading her poem (so enjoy her poetry). She has a lovely quality to her voice that remains with you. Happy Birthday Mary!