Happy Birthday Mary Kellogg

Jon’s photo of Mary mowing her lawn on the cover of her book Whistling Woman

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. Reminds me of the bumper sticker: Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History. I whistle unabashedly. Happy Birthday, Mary; whistle a happy tune!

  5. 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!

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