Fiddleheads & Floss—Big Announcement!

Hello to you!

There are some exciting things going on in the world of writing. Whether you are a reader or a writer or both, you likely know the power that words can have in our lives. Today, Fiddleheads & Floss Writing Services (aka—ME) has reached a milestone and I have you all to thank for it.

Writers who intend to write books must do just that—write the books. But, of course, life gets tangly. There’s this whole Covid thing. Sometimes we move to new towns, start or end relationships, wait patiently for a new grandbaby to be born. We bang our steering wheels in traffic and we curse when the delivery of groceries is not what we wanted. In short—we’re all out here adulting as best we can. It gets tiresome, right?

And I have a question for you today:

Do you think that there is more to life than this?

Really, think about that.

(Don’t worry—I promised an announcement—and it’s coming…)

But I want you to think back to a time when you were a small child and there was a wild sense of curiosity in you. Remember that time? No, no…don’t focus on the traumas or the disappointments of your childhood—focus on the child. The curiosity and often whimsical thinking of your childhood self.

There, now, you in the sandbox…you, chasing fireflies or playing ball…you with the mix-matched socks and the wild hair (and don’t care!)…let’s stay here for a while. You’ve been adulting, you’re tired, and you deserve a treat. A mental play treat. A treat made up of words that transport you to someplace else.

Sound inviting?

What’s the Big Deal?

Now for the announcement: Fiddleheads & Floss has released a second collection and it is a whimsical gift. A nature-bound playground that is waiting for your tired mind to just let go and let words. Let the power of words take you to places you really need to go. Let words whisk away the stresses of life and tickle your mind with a little good plain FUN with poetry. Sure, there are a few dark moments in there—but this book is more playful, more inviting, and more sensory-appealing than its predecessor; organic. Don’t get me wrong, organic was good—people loved it—but this new collection takes your heart and mind to a restful place where life can melt away.

Read it to yourself. Read it to your children or grandchildren. Let poetry soothe you and remind you to share those joyous and curious moments of life with them. We are so tangled in the complexities, the often weighted difficulties of life…that we need to remember our child-like souls. Our limitless dreams. I think, especially in light of last year—we need this.


As much as I needed to write this book—I think there are people out there needing to read this book.

Catch Your Fireflies!

So, my loyal fans and followers—the coolest people ever, in my humble opinion—will you show a little support? It’s easy:

✔ You can purchase your very own copy of fireflies

✔ You can share this post with your friends or forward via email to your friends and family.

✔ You can share a picture of you with your copy—on your social media—and tell others why you love the book.

✔ You can send a copy to a friend who needs a little sunshine in their life.

✔ You can leave a kind review—that helps writers SO much.

Preview of fireflies:

Back Description:

There was a time when you saw new things every time you went out into the world. The sunshine felt warmer. The clouds in the sky had names and faces. Each day brought some grand adventure and all you had to do was show up.

Who says when we grow up that all of these wondrous happenings must stop? Who says we can’t still look outside our windows and imagine all the adventures, all the joys, all the wonder life still has for us? Why shouldn’t we see the world with this type of curiosity and share that with our children, our grandchildren?

Some joys in life must be colorful, whimsical, fun, and mysterious. I see the world this way each day. Perhaps it is a coping mechanism. Perhaps it is a trauma response. Perhaps it is simply reminiscent of all those quiet hours I spent beneath a blanket as a child reading books and volumes of children’s poetry. I paint what I see and feel into poems. Because I must. Because it helps me to make sense of this world. And because I hope, you’ll come with me.

So you can see — even when the world feels dark, there is always light.

Just ask the fireflies.


Poetry Excerpts

An entire tree can be stripped bare
by ants. Let hope be persistent
as ants.

The gathered are powerful.

One by one, one piece at a time,
let a steady stream of hope carry away
all that weighs me
all that controls me
all that burdens me
still.

The gathered
are powerful.

—Let Hope Drip Here


Here it is.
A new year rising,
a great orange ball
of fire in the sky,
wearing my name
like a smile.—Tomorrows


oh yes, I’d live out my days
in the pages of a children’s book

far, far away ─ I can hear the faeries sing
turn the page dear friends

and let me climb in

—Within the Pages


A heart in the dark
learns to be
its own light.

—(Untitled)

BONUS: Fireflies features some artwork and photographs of other budding artists. I wanted to feature some visual images in this book and support other artists who are out there immersing themselves in their gifts and sharing that with the world.

Order a copy of fireflies:

Thanks, again, for being here on this journey with me. I hope you enjoy fireflies. In fact—I hope you always have fireflies in your life.

Christina M. Ward

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Visiting Worthville Beach, Randleman NC

A beautiful eyesore of a place worth visiting (bring a trash bag) 

Worthville Beach Dam with piles of clothing, debris, and remnants of a campfire.—photo by author.

I am happy to visit any place with the word “beach” attached to it. But don’t get too excited about “Worthville Beach” popping up on your “places to visit near me.” Of course, it isn’t a beach at all, but rather a semi-natural area along Deep River in Randleman, NC. If you are visiting the area and want to hop over to explore, here’s a bit of what you’ll see.

Navigation & Parking at Worthville Beach

I had no issues with Maps navigating me right to the area. I was pleasantly pleased with that as I travel alone and prefer to not get lost. First off, the parking is pretty much non-existent. Since Worthville Beach is really a parcel of property along the river and nestled underneath the bridge, there’s no parking lot or pull-over area aside from this: 

Worthville Beach “parking area”—photo by author.

This is where I had to pull over and park, while cars were speeding by. I was a bit uncomfortable locking my purse in the trunk and taking a look around. It’s really nice to be out in a beautiful natural area, but not nearly as pleasant when you’re standing on the side of a semi-secluded road. The narrow dirt road leading down into the Worthville “beach” area was far too treacherous for my car to navigate, so I opted for road-side parking and a brief walk. 

Worthville Beach Is Free to Visit

There are no  attendants or parking fees. Simply park and walk or navigate the very “natural” road down to the waterside. Be prepared to park roadside unless you have a Jeep or other all-terrain vehicle. I was there after several days of rain and there was a “sandy-mud” texture to the road, which made me think even a Jeep might get stuck down in there. Drive down at your own adventurous risk.

Worthville Beach entry road—photo by author.
Worthville Beach entry road erosion—photo by author.

Once you get down to the “beach” area, it’s fairly nice. Having had several days of rain prior to my visit, the water of Deep River was fairly high and rushing. The sandy soils were soft and really do have a beachy feel. If you close your eyes and just listen to the waters flowing by, you almost imagine the sounds of the ocean as the river waters lap the shore. 

Worthville Beach Dam—photo by author.
Worthville Beach Dam with piles of clothing, debris, and remnants of a campfire.—photo by author.

More Clean Up Efforts Are Needed

Worthville Dam area is prone to litter and property damage as a somewhat secluded “party spot.” Once a year the Big Sweep volunteers, coordinated by Bob Langston, an educator and environmentalist with the N.C. Zoo, come in and clean up the area, usually in the fall of the year. When I visited in February of 2021, clearly the property had not been cleaned up in some time. There was litter, bags of trash that were ravaged by wildlife and strewn about. Areas where people had built small campfires and settled in for a night of drinking or sleeping. There were sleeping bags and piles of clothes, bottles, and garbage left behind.

Worthville Beach area bridge—photo by author.
Worthville Beach area bridge—photo by author.
Worthville Beach area adjacent abandoned mill buildings with debris and graffiti—photo by author.

Historical Value but Desecrated

There’s a bit of a climb up the hill to get to the upper area of Worthville Beach where remnants of an old mill building stand, covered in graffiti and spray-painted tags. More litter and evidence of people hanging out for some quiet time to indulge in drinking or perhaps to find a place out of the weather for local homeless or transient populations. It was a bit unnerving to explore this area alone.

While the beach area is more of a fishing and swimming area than anything else, I recommend careful watch over children as the litter could contain broken bottles or other potentially dangerous items. With some clean up, it could be a nice place to bring the family for some outdoor fun and recreation.

Worthville Beach area adjacent abandoned mill buildings with debris and graffiti—photo by author.

Randleman Plans to Improve Worthville Beach

Randleman has a history of millwork and manufacturing, which are evident in the vacant buildings that permeate the area. The 157 acre Worthville dam property area was purchased through a large grant of  $400,000 grant from the Duke Community Foundation and Clean Water Management Trust Fund back in 2017 with plans to tie it into the Deep River Rail Trail project, which follows abandoned railways and waterways along Deep River through northern Randolph County through Randleman to Ramseur. 

Natural area along Deep River, behind abandoned mills and Worthville Dam.—photo by author.

Hopefully as local cleanups and Randleman efforts to restore the property, this swimming hole will be a more family-friendly place to visit. Until then, plan to drop by and check the place out and while you’re at it, bring a trash bag and do your part to make North Carolina a bit more beautiful. 

North Carolina has lots of quaint, outdoor areas like this to travel to, but all is jeopardized by a few who use the areas for recreational partying and who demean the properties with destructive and disrespectful behaviors. We can enjoy wildlife and visit places like this that hold historical value to our area, but more efforts need to be made to clean up after those who do not respect the grounds they walk. It’s unfortunate to see beautiful places like this being literally “trashed.” Especially during a time when we all need to spend a little more time outdoors. A good local swimming hole is such a perfect way to spend the afternoon with family and friends. Gentle reminder: enjoy but respect these local treasures.

Have you ever been to Worthville Beach? What were your experiences there? Share your stories in the comments.

Randolph County, NC Covid-19 Updates

Misunderstood (i have been a flower in a tree)

a free verse poem

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay


i have been a flower in a tree.
i have been so high up, no one could see
the immeasurable me, the impetuous me

the always, always superfluous me

this is what happens
when a tree has its leaves 
on upside down, when the roots don’t grow
underground

and the rain goes up instead of down

the birds fall dizzied from their skies.
gumballs float and swirl and helix themselves
right up and into me

can’t you see? i did not ask
to be me — to spend my life
among the bees

i have been a core and colorful whore,
a generous whorl of magenta
lace and edge — 
i reach downward towards sky

On a Sunday Visit


Christina Ward 💗 is a poet and nature writer. If you enjoyed this spoken word poem you may also enjoy some of her other works (with audio) such as: For the Eyes of God and Birds (with audio) and On a Sunday Visit (with audio.)

Wrangling the Snakes

NO Mr. Snake–you cannot eat my silkie babies!

Robbie–who really wishes to be called batman–holding the successfully captured reptile.
  • TRIGGER WARNING — snake pictures below.

So this morning was exciting!

I love wrangling the snakes away from our chicken pens. (Although I don’t like them being there.) This is our first snake this season which is pretty unusual. I thought I’d share the story, the video, and the pictures here for you!

We have three chicken pens and in one of the pens are our silkies.

This is Merlin, our lavender bantam silkie roo and Icy our white bantam silkie hen.

This morning Robbie (my S.O. for those of you who haven’t read about him yet — he’s kind of a superhero 🙂 went out to feed the silkies and discovered a 5–6 ft black rat snake in the pen. Snakes eat the eggs and any baby chicks they can get. They must be removed from the pens immediately.

We have a very strict “no kill” snake policy and only break it if there is no other alternative.

We’ve killed snakes only twice — once when a black snake (thicker-bodied and stronger than the black racers) had the head of one of my favorite silkie hens in its mouth. The silkie’s name was Prudence and she was one of the two first silkies we ever had. We were too late and Prudence’s life was lost. That was the only time we’ve killed a non-venomous snake.

The other kill was a copperhead snake that was inside of our “big girl” pen (the pen with our standard-sized laying hens) and since Robbie was out of town at the time, I was left to handle the snake alone. It was a small copperhead, orange-diamonded and beautiful.

I know it’s weird but copperheads are my favorite — they have the most colorful, beautiful pattern.

I hated that we killed this snake and to this day it does not sit well with me. (We do not have health insurance and I thought it simply too risky to try to relocate this venomous snake.) My son arrived home shortly after I discovered the coiled visitor and he was able to help me ‘take care” of the situation.

We have probably relocated in excess of 20 snakes on our journey as chicken parents and before Robbie came along and started “protecting” me a bit too much when the snakes come around — I was the family snake handler. They called me. I showed up. I have relocated many snakes!

It is always a huge shock to find a snake in the pens. No matter how snake-friendly you are, it is a blow to your nerves. This morning Robbie’s heart was racing as he ran into the house yelling basically for “all hands on deck” we have a large snake.

All four of us ran out the door.

This was the view as we all arrived, one with a rake (for pinning the head or pulling) and one with a laundry bag, and Robbie and I donning our gloves.

Yep, it was a big one! Icy will not be moved. Chicken mommas are VERY brave.

Meet Icy, our very brave momma hen. She is a white, bantam silkie, and she is my prized hen. She, as you can see is very brave, and will not be moved off of her clutch of hatch-ready eggs. This is an older snake, who has most likely weighed the risk-reward options and decided to wait her out. It would have been a very long stand-off.

Chicken mommas are very brave. They will die to protect their young — as the roosters will die to protect their hens.

I have seen roosters fight off things twice their size but for some reason they do not step in when it comes to snakes.

Icy sat firm.

Robbie refused my first offer to drag it out by the tail and let him get ahold of the head. He opted for the drag-and-toss method, slinging the huge thing through the air and into the grass.

This prompted a frenzy of activity.

The snake landed in the grass and immediately fled in my direction. I was grabbing at it. Robbie was grabbing at it. Abby was chasing it with the laundry bag.

Alex pinned the head with the rake (one of those retractible bendy rakes) and I began shoving the snake’s writhing body into the bag. The head broke free.

Robbie yells for me to back up and I am arguing that “I am fine baby, it can’t hurt me.”

The snake wriggles free and we chase it a few more times before Robbie got its head beneath his shoe. The snake wrapped its body around Robbie’s leg, all the way to his lower stomach! That thing was long!

Robbie is exclaiming “This is not cool. This is not cool!”

I get the bag and again I am wrangling the body off of Robbie’s leg and into the bag. Robbie stoops to pull the draw string and released the snake’s head. Luckily it withdrew putting its entire self now into the bag. Draw string pulled.

I tied the string tightly around the top of the bag while Robbie held the bag.

Victory!

Time for release!

Robbie and I took the snake to an area a few miles from our home where there are industrial buildings but no nearby homes that may have chickens. There is a large forested area there where we chose for the release.

Here’s the video of the release!

20190526_133611.mp4
Video of black rat snake relocation and release. drive.google.com

  • *Correction — I do believe now that it was a black rat snake and not a racer — the underbelly was black. It was just very shiny and that threw me off.

Sorry if the video is sideways…I am SO not the tech wizard. But you can see a successful release. (I did not show myself in any pictures or in the video because I am having this crazy dental issue — you can tell in my talking that my mouth is swollen. But at the time of this video the pain wasn’t too bad, thank goodness. Adrenaline is also a factor there. See here and here for more info on that.)

And when we returned home to check on Icy…we found she IS at hatch time!

Congratulations Icy on your hard work and bravery paying off!

So Icy has one baby and there are a pile of eggs there waiting to hatch. I’ll add more pictures of the babies to this post as they hatch out and begin their explorations of the world.

Now if you will excuse me…I need to go and ice my back. I am getting too old for this.

At Home Amongst These

a poem

https://www.pexels.com/photo/nature-grass-mushrooms-amanita-33695/

The squishy-cool green beneath my feet
meandering before me, a path between trees.
The bright arms of the sun reaching down,
fingers of light, bringing growth to the ground.
 
I can no longer get lost this way.
 
I have come again. I wander again
through the moss-strewn aisle
in gripping fear and anxiety-laden… 
I know they’ll be lost if I wander awhile.

I have been here too often.

The moss knows each tentative step
each catch in my breath, I gift my tears
falling softly from my chin, a tender
sprinkling of salt drains away my fears.

The trees creak with the breeze,
interrupting me, reminding me
of the cellular world, uptake of nutrient
the vascular world outside of me.

I stoop and take note of basidiophytes,
all dome-topped and mysterious,
the feathery gills underneath
each whisper-soft and musty fungus.
 
Worry melts from me as I picture
beneath them the faeries and gnomes 
in secret they watch my bare feet pad by
giggles on breezes drift up from their homes.

They remember my name. I am sure of it.

I find a cool spot to stretch and to lay
my back in the moss, a bryophyte bliss
works its way through my bones, my skin
prickles and settles, I’ve so missed this.
 
This tender release. 

If I lie here for a moment
in sweet rest, in soft sphagnum hug, 
with the sun shining warmly… 
with whispering friends, meandering bugs.
 
I’ll rest and release, breathe in, out…
the world will make sense to me again.

Oh, sing to me.


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Hunger

a poem

https://www.rawpixel.com/image/426941/grizzly-bear-roaming-through-yellowstone-national-park-united-states

I had a vision.
A pole; horizontal, unmoving.
Suspended from it — carrion
in varying stages of 
decomposition;

One, freshly hung
drips its life blood free
drip…drip…drip…
 
Another, rotting
begun, its surface writhes
with maggots and flies.

The third is rot-worn
black, a carcass shell
or its former self.

The three hanging there 
just out of reach, as are most
things when you are hungry.
 
A bear, standing on two legs
angrily reaching one sharp-clawed
swipe after another roaring swipe
menacing arcs cutting the sky
just out of reach,
just out of reach.

I don’t want to be this bear.
 
Sad thing.
Always reaching 
for the depleting,
the constantly wearing, 
disintegrating, withering
dreams cut short
just hanging there…
dreams dripping in the sun.
No, that is not for me.

I do not want to be this bear,
pathetic hungry beast
reaching for the despaired,
decaying and wormed away by 
the negative and the bleak,
gnawing, stealing, tearing
dreams disappearing,
eaten away in the sun.

I do not want to be
this hungry animal reaching
for the rotten, the black
the ghosts of dreams
the illusion of dreams
the dreams that used to exist.

I want to be a different beast.
A noble, beast of wanderlust
and curiosity, broad-shouldered
thick-backed and wiry
and feasting on berries
plump with juice and seed
paws-full gathered in the 
bliss of the sun and breeze.
The work is of no mind.
A belly can be filled with 
the small, if there are many.

want to chase after the living,
the sprinting and darting deer, eyes
frozen wide with fury and fear…
devouring the fresh
flesh-dream full of muscle
and blood pumping full
of organic desire, of 
opportunity racing, raging into
life, unabashed.

I had a vision, or perhaps
a vision has me. A sharp-clawed 
roar impels me.


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Ladybug Journeys

a poem of a quiet afternoon

https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-ladybug-on-leaf-during-daytime-121472/

A ladybug journeys
 up Hawkweed stem
 searching for another

Dark-spotted red bug
 with which to fly high
 the ladybug labors on…

A squirrel scampers
 through leaf litter and soil
 searching for another

Nut she had buried 
 some time ago Spring
 the squirrel labors on…

Chickadee and titmouse
 nuthatch and goldfinch
 searching for another

Black sunflower seed
 or millet or worm
 the birds labor on…

I absorb the sun 
 I notice their sounds
 each searching for another

While creatures toil and fret
 and summer besets
 I, thankful, rest on…


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The Waters Run Clean Through Me

a poem about the North Carolina Mountains

https://www.pexels.com/photo/bench-cascade-creek-environment-355321/

Deep in the North Carolina wood
 nestled between steep mountainous 
 rises, a gorge, through which run
 waters, crisp and cool and clean.

A bench waits there for my soul.

The waters run clear, cross rock
 and moss, with dribbling sounds
 and meandering thoughts of the
 distant seas. The canopy hangs over.
 
 Shady oasis of quietude waits
 for me to climb into its folds.
 A genteel hug whispered through green
 to wrap me up in wonder once again.

A hike for a day, I must go.

I’ll climb on the rock, spread 
 my wings to gather the sun
 rub my toes in sphagnum
 hear the cool-water melody flow…

Oh, Carolina, you are good to my soul.

Let the breeze sway and creak in the pines!
 May the babbling waters find their gentle way
 and the mockingbirds ramble song to song,
 let your nature carry its secrets on.


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Nectar Dreams

a poem about the tiny creatures we often miss


Honey Bee (Unsplash.com)

Nectar Dreams

Walking sticks, June bugs,
Bumble bee, Wooly Bears
all came out to play
and when the streetlights 
at last were lit
the fireflies lit the way.
The June bugs, in droves,
in whispering swarms
slapped against our chests
emerald green-backed and shining,
the airborne jewels in summer vests.

Where have all the June bugs gone?
 
Wooly Bears sauntered by one-by-one
we didn’t touch them as they rolled
laborious slow and steady, with hiding
faces, these solitary mysteries unfold.

Oh Wooly Bear, please come 
out to play once more.

Walking sticks, box turtle, sage-shaded mantis
and the creepy-singing “whooo whooo whooo
that rose from the woods behind us
telling secrets that sailed out over the garden
plump with cucumber, tomato, corn stalks, melon.

Daddy Long legs often skittered by
climbing on spindly silent legs,
with tiny black dot bulbous eyes 
they crept on silent dregs.
Now, sadly gathered elsewhere
on distant dream, searching 
for more of their kind.

Perhaps the June-bugs hide there too
in this grassy hidden plane
where creatures gather 
to speak of when their numbers
had not yet begun to wane.
They worry over summers 
that no longer look the same,
of the children no longer twirling
in grass with magical dreams.
 
Bumble bee, I beg you, do not go away.
I plant my flowers one-by-one
enticing you to stay.
Our earth is not the same for you
but your plump colors light our way
I miss you singing nectar-dreams., oh please
Forgive us, we have lost our way.

Wooly Bear Caterpillar (https://cottagelife.com/outdoors/wild-profile-meet-the-woolly-bear-caterpillar/)



Walking Stick bug ( https://www.spirit-animals.com/stick-bug-symbolism/)

June Bug ( https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/jun/28/outdoors-summer-heat-magnolias-and-june-bugs/)

Thank you for reading Nectar Dreams, a poem inspired by my love for the tiny creatures and the joy they brought to my childhood. I hope you will read more of my poetry!

On Dappling Pond

a poem about the beautiful Mandarin duck and the not-so-beautiful Muscovy duck

Mandarin duck, Pexels.com

On Dappling Pond

White, crisp half-moon,
  the blue crested melt
  to ruddy hind swoop.
Tawny wings tucked under,
  belted by royal blue.
Sleek chest, brazen
  blue as ocean-deep.
Neck ringed in
  maple majesty lace.
     Enlightened, resplendent,
         spectacular.

All nature’s paintbrushes!
Were they hog hair
or badger?
Were they
rinsed clean in muddy
waters encircled by sawgrass;
sandy-fawn stippled?

The Mandarin navigates,
whisper-smooth and waggle,
the Carolina grasswort; rising
variegated greens
wind-bent and skyward.

Mucsovy regards the
radiant fowl,
disturbed at such
     reckless abuse of color…
for one dappling duck?
Pinkish beak dipped under,
up with a snail? Asnail!
Vexed, perturbed,
Muscovy waddles, plops
with a splash and a glide,
     nature’s sculptor’s pride,
     its gnarly head held high.


I hope you enjoyed On Dappling Pond (I am quite fond of this one) and will stick around to read some more of my poetry. I have made it easy to find ones you may like and you can find links to poems on the poetry tab, or use the navigation menu and search features on the homepage. Thank you again…what did you think of On Dappling Pond?

Muscovy ducks are widely varied in blacks and whites–but the red bumpy face is usual. This is a snippet from a picture on All About Birds website.

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