Those Who Need a Voice

This is an excerpt written  for The American Red Cross when a fire left many families homeless:      It is a rainy Monday morning and it marks the third week where a 24-7 Red Cross shelter has remained open in Bergen County, NJ.  Volunteers and staff silently file into a stark room to debrief on the status of the shelter. The sole volunteer who was on duty through the night is bleary eyed. Styrofoam cups filled with coffee clutter the meeting table and business begins.     They recap how two-hundred people were left homeless from a 5-story apartment fire. Seventy-five children are among the population. There were no injuries, but all property was destroyed: clothing, furniture, toys, books, and all items relied upon for day-to-day living. The subject of whether donations are tapped out is discuss while so much is needed to bring these families back from the ashes.      The day's orders include distribution of funds, vouchers, and emergency clothing. Each client who walks away is

A Visit to Manitoga

Regal and inspiring were my initial reactions when I entered Manitoga, the paradise created by Russell Wright, one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century.  The elegant structural landscape he meticulously planned and planted is a living painting where a visitor can "step into" to complete the whole picture.  Upon arriving back home, I wrote the following two poems, "The Gem in the Quarry"and "Where I Stood" both inspired by the visit and photos. Russell Wright's Home and Studio built on top of the quarry The beautiful view looking out from kitchen. The Gem in the Quarry by Joan Bellofatto Reid Manitoga, a great spirit oversees days, seasons, years. Here it stays teeming with life, light, longevity. Fauna, foliage, ferns, burst at the edges of trails. Beds of moss green, soft and lush kiss the grounds. Rambling, rough pebbles, rocks, and boulders together transform a once abando

And the Woman Smiled

"And the Woman Smiled" is the title of a debut poetry book which traces experiences from girlhood to adult, and beyond.  Published in my nom de plum, Gianna B. Reid, it is available on Amazon. Amazon Link  Here is a sample poem: Wind When I was a little girl, I believed trees created wind. The frantic motion of the branches was empirical proof. The howling confirmed it more. I thought if trees could just be still, the winds of march and November gusts would cease. Now I am older, wiser. Wind is because everyone is talking at once. And the Woman Smiled © Gianna B. Reid 2017 Amazon Link

Where the Path May Lead

           T here’s an elderly woman who lives a few houses down from me.  She appears to be about 85, short, stout, full of energy.  Today on what felt like one of the coldest in February, 20 degrees with a wind chill of 19 mph, our paths crossed while walking.  We greeted one another with an enthusiastic “Hello how are you!”        She quickly replied, “As long as we’re able to walk, we’re doing okay.”      We continued in our opposite directions, tugging at our collars and burying our hands deep within our coat pockets.  Even with the wall-to-wall sunshine the cold temperatures quickened my pace. And just like that, her one sentence stuck in my mind all the way home because I knew there were times when I could not walk.  Flu has kept me flat on my back twice; infrequent bouts of vertigo; oral surgeries, assorted viruses; migraines; and more recently a fractured ankle.  From this list you may think, “This lady isn’t so well.”      On the contrary, I consider my overa

Snow Surfing

     When I awoke this morning I felt my age of somewhere between the beginning of time and the present.  Peeked outside to see a feast.    A perfect morning with bright sunlight, a virgin snowfall, and the sky a deep sea blue.  So what it was 19 degrees.  So what if the wind made it feel like 6.  Two pairs of pants, layers of sweaters, two pairs of gloves, heavy jacket, scarf and boots made it feel almost like summer.        A 12 year old kid grabbed her surf snowboard and headed toward the hill behind a nearby school. There were only two other children there with their dad.  After several sweeps into the soft powder, I asked for a quick photo. Immediately after there was more surfing, climbing the hill, and some hoots of excitement.      The snow hugged the trees and carpeted the road, and allowed me to grasp a wisp of youth.

Coco: a furry feline friend

First Hug      Fourteen years ago, I adopted two kittens, litter mates, Coco and Mango.  Coco was the delicate brother, the runt of the litter.  He appeared aloof but allowed me to scoop him into my arms for a first hug.  I loved his snow white boots and white chest. He was a handsome cat. We instantly knew we were meant to be together.       The first years brought a flurry of gymnastics between Coco and Mango.  They tackled and stalked one another, played endlessly with anything that moved, and their curiosity was boundless, from ordinary household items to the majesty of a sunrise. This photo was published in The Record, May 2002 .              Mr. Coco had a habit of running out the door whenever he could.  H knew he wasn't meant to be a house cat but a fearless hunter roaming the grass and bushes.  It would sometimes take an hour to retrieve  him back to the safety of the home.  Ironically, he would cry while he was outside and once back to cozy comfort, would set

Finding New in the Familiar

It’s a road I have traveled dozens of times, maybe hundreds by car or bicycle for the past twenty years but it wasn’t until I took a meander-ing walk this summer when I came upon an area of town which I had never noticed. Something new found in the familiar was a peaceful apple orchard with trees living in silent community waiting for any passerby to visit.  A posted sign indicated the park was open to the public.  Hey, that’s me, Joan Q. Public.    A wrought iron gate led me to a path which looped around a bend to an old foot bridge that may have covered a shallow brook at one time.  This secluded gem was obviously well-maintained by the  hamlet of Pearl River while respecting the integrity of the original grounds.  I didn’t know at first it was an apple orchard until I walked closer to the trees. There were clusters of small apples  throughout the branches of each tree.  I reached for one to take it home as if I had found some treasure. Just as I was leaving a woman wal