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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

Crocus flowers quivering in the wind
GIF courtesy of Giphy

Below is my GIF-inspired entry for the 2021 Spring Fling Kidlit Contest, clocking in at just under 150 words. A big thanks to Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O'Neal for hosting again!

Dogwood and Holly

Dogwood smiled at the last lump of snow melting in the yard.

“Soon I’ll be the best dressed tree on Woodley Street,” he said, proud of his budding branches. “You other trees only wish you could bloom as beautifully as I do.”

“No thanks,” Holly said from the other side of the flower patch. “I prefer my luscious leaves that stay green all year. In winter you’re a scraggly mess!”

Dogwood scoffed. “At least I don’t have prickly edges!”

Holly gasped. “Well, at least my bark doesn’t look like alligator skin!”

The trees hushed as a boy and his grandmother stopped by the yard.

“Ooo, they’re my favorite!” the boy said, pointing down. “I love their purple color!” Then he walked on without saying a word about the trees.

The little crocuses in the flower patch looked up at Dogwood and Holly, waved their purple petals, and giggled.

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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

Black-and-white stripped lighthouse against a blue sky
Bodie Island Lighthouse, Outer Banks, NC

If you’re reading this, I can assume you’ve made it to the end of 2020. Congrats! (Although maybe I should hold off. Who knows what 2021 will bring?) In any case, I figure I’d add to all the reflections, predictions, and inspirational thoughts that proliferate with yeast-like intensity this time of year. And now it’s literally just dawned on me: Aren’t we also entering a new decade?

Anyway, I won’t sink too deeply into the sentimental because I’m not the type. But I’d like to tell you about a little road trip I took, and end with a poem inspired by it. The poem is where I get all pensive and introspective, so feel free to scroll down if that’s more your thing.

So the trip. It was three days that passed like a millisecond, which is one of the reasons I wanted to immortalize it in BlogLand. Our plan was to visit the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with a few stops/excursions to the “Inner Banks.” One of my fondest memories will be our detour to historic Edenton—a charming little city on the Albemarle Sound.

We were only in Edenton about an hour, first visiting the Penelope Barker House Welcome Center, which doubles as a museum. It was there where I bought my only souvenir of the trip—a book journaling a local man’s observations of birds visiting his large property (From Hawks to Hummingbirds, by Paris Trail). I started reading it during the trip and it immediately brought a smile to my face. Then there was the “Women of Distinction” exhibit, where I read about Josephine Napoleon Leary, a freed slave turned real estate mogul. At another exhibit, a friendly older gentleman gave me the backstory of a vintage trunk of items on display, one that had been hidden in the shadows of an attic in town. He was particularly excited to inform me that the trunk had a fold-out ironing board!

Pictured below are the Leary exhibit, one of her buildings, and the mysterious trunk of items.

Afterwards Klaus and I strolled the historic neighborhoods, said hi to friendly people, and checked out real estate listings displayed in a storefront window. Oh, and would you believe there was a Sears appliance store sandwiched between the charming little shops on Main Street? As a child of the seventies/eighties, I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

I won’t bore you with the details from the rest of the trip, even though it wasn’t boring at all. Here, let me just sum it up: Dunes, crashing waves, lighthouses, long drives, more charming places (Manteo on Roanoke Island, for instance), casual beach dining, pelicans, sea oats, live oaks, and wax myrtles.

Okay, so now here’s the poem I came up with today, which will double as the more reflective part of the post. Happy New Year, and God bless!

Untitled (for now)

I stand against it, this wind

that makes waves thunder,

flags and banners flap.

A seagull hovers inches over

the shoreline, a feather-like

descent, letting the wind

decide when it touches down.

A pelican leading its flock slams

invisible brakes, turns, and

the others follow like a school

of fish guided by the current.

Perhaps the gull and pelican

are onto something.

Instead of fighting the wind,

maybe I should yield to its

spirit force—His Spirit—

and discover where It leads.

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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Ann Richter

Fall Writing Frenzy 2020
Image courtesy of Unsplash

I had some free time this morning and couldn't pass up the opportunity to enter this contest, co-hosted by agent/author Kaitlyn Sanchez and author Lydia Lukidis. Now, if I'd kept up with my blog reading I would've known about this earlier and had more time to come up with something amazing before the deadline. But I'm happy (and really surprised) to report that the story idea came relatively quickly and so did the writing. I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that one of my works-in-progress is a novel about a girl who's into birdwatching.

The rules were to write a fall-related story for children based on one of the photos provided. The maximum length was 200 words. Here it goes!


“So, Nyla, what’s the final count?” Grandpa asks on our way home from Hawk Watch Ridge. He’s driving slower than usual, which is fine by me. I’m in no rush.

“Okay, here’s the top five,” I say, and clear my throat. “Over three days we saw 15 Cooper’s Hawks, 36 Bald Eagles, 75 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 62 Turkey Vultures and…”

Grandpa drums his hands on the steering wheel like he does every year.

“…180 Red-tailed Hawks!”

We both pump our fists, like always. Only this time I’ve got a lump in my throat. We ride in silence until Grandpa breaks it: “So, all packed?”

“Mm-hmm.” I turn away to look at the golden trees out my window, trying to convince myself that change is good.

“Be sure to send me videos and pictures of all those exotic birds down there in Florida. Especially the Roseate Spoonbills. They’re neat.”


When we get home I see the moving truck has arrived. Believe it or not, the company’s logo is a soaring hawk. Grandpa points and laughs.

“Ready for your fall migration?”

I chuckle, even though I know I’m not just migrating for the season.

Boy, I truly envy those birds.

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