Ken Hartke

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I'm retired and living solo "out west" in the New Mexico desert. I've been an observer and blogger for years and usually have four or five blogs going but wrote for myself or for friends. A lot of it was travel stories or daily random postings -- but it was a good experience. Red Room allowed me to share things on a wider scale and with its demise, I (maybe) found a more public voice.

Earliest Memories

Rosy's essay on Mothering Day, happily found on Facebook this morning, brought back a conversation I've been having with my daughter about our earliest memories. She is a children's librarian and has several weekly sessions with very small children. Almost all of these children are preschoolers and some are toddlers and a few are crawlers. She does story time, crafts and a music and movement session a few times a week. Most of these kids are from a somewhat impoverished Hispanic community that is going through some economic changes due to new commercial development. Some speak Spanish at home. If you ever watched Breaking Bad you might recognize the place.

Her experience is that the kids have long term memory covering the span of several months or longer but the literature she has researched on the topic says that those memories are lost and that by the time the kids reach pre-teen or teen years they won't remember much, if anything, from the preschool or toddler years. Her experience is that they remember and soak up just about everything. As parents we see this as well.

As we talked, I was amazed at what she did not remember from her early childhood. That trip to Disneyworld was a total waste. Much of her time in daycare with friends her own age and a series of caregivers is lost. A few things she remembers only from seeing photographs.

Apparently there are cultural differences in early memory. Canadian kids remember earlier experiences than do kids in China. Researchers think that there seems to be a parenting factor involved. Parental and cultural priorities make a difference. I wonder if there are generational differences. My generation was the first to grow up with television so I recall some of that.

When we think back to our earliest memory it often turns out to be some innocuous happening that would hardly matter. We also might recall what clothes we were wearing or a specific location or room. In my case it is a summertime visit to a restaurant and I recall what I wore. It might have been the occasion of my third birthday (in August) but I don't recall that specifically. The restaurant had a lot of windows and was very bright. Apart from my parents, I don't recall anyone else that I knew (sorry, bro). Other early memories are pretty sparse and scattered. My last grandmother died before I was five but I have several memories of her.

As a children's librarian, my daughter works hard bringing stories and new experiences into the lives of her kids. She's very good at it and has as many as 30 kids and parents each week. She is fascinated at how they are developing (physically and socially) but seems disappointed that, in the long run, they might not have any lasting memories of their weekly visits. Maybe so...but I can't accept the notion that it isn't having an impact. They will have positive memory snippets of going to the library, maybe have a favorite story or song and possibly recall the hour they spent with the brightly colored parachute marching in a circle. When I was that age we did not have those kinds of experiences.

So think back...what do you remember? Don't lose it.


Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Thank you for reading my Mothering Sunday post and for responding here, Ken. It's much appreciated. At the moment, there seems to... Read More
Monday, 07 March 2016 18:24
Ken Hartke
I'm the family historian but not everyone agrees with me. What one remembers and what the sources say are sometimes out of synch. ... Read More
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 01:12
Rosy Cole
That's what happens to history, too! There's an ongoing debate. Not just whether it was written by the victors, but how much is lo... Read More
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 13:56
1014 Hits

The Fence






How did she get here?

She walked...walked toward the fence.

It's the one constant.









    There's always a fence.

    She came alone. Swept along

    with the refugees.









Maybe an orphan -

but no one knows for certain.

She stands by the fence.













    Waiting. She watches.

    Expecting someone to come

    from across the fence.













Little refugees

grow up waiting by the fence...

older and angry.









A Syrian refugee boy stands behind a fence




    They survived a lot.

    So now they stand by the fence.

    Waiting for something.
















Recent Comments
Amy Brook Palleson
Wonderful. And horrible. It is sometimes shocking to realize how the same distressing societal events can elicit such malice tow... Read More
Thursday, 03 March 2016 14:04
Ken Hartke
Sometimes you write something and it keeps coming back to haunt you. I wrote this a couple years ago for my Writer's Cramp blog bu... Read More
Thursday, 03 March 2016 17:18
Rosy Cole
It's a deplorable fact of our times that boundaries of every kind have been demolished and overrun with little respect for the fun... Read More
Friday, 04 March 2016 10:55
1324 Hits

To The Lady Who Put Roses Out


It was a quiet day on a quiet street.


It seems like it was one of those family holidays;


Maybe Father’s Day or Mother’s Day… I don’t recall.


It was a good day for a walk.




We took our time, talking along the way.


We were not walking for distance or speed.


The old sidewalk was cracked and uneven…


Sort of the way life is.




We watched our step.  You remember that


old saying about stepping on a crack?


There was a nice breeze off the river.


Birds were rejoicing in the trees.




We heard the wind in the big trees in


the old cemetery.  It was well kept.


People cared about cemeteries here.


So do the squirrels…policing the rows.




One block. Two blocks. Three…four.


The houses were perched high on each side


with sloping yards and low stone walls.


Middle-aged houses – nothing grand.




There ahead, on a low cobbled wall,


sat a small painted bucket of cut red roses.


“Please take one” the penciled sign said.


She took one. “How nice” he said.




We continued another few blocks…


Stopped for coffee and then doubled back.


The roses were still there but fewer, now.


Other walkers must have read the sign.




Like a pebble in a pond, this


simple act of sharing rippled through


the lives of people she never met


but cared about from a distance.


Recent Comments
Sue Martin Glasco
Such a pleasant walk I just took. And I loved the rose. It smells so sweet. I really liked this poem, Ken. It brought back mem... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2016 05:02
Monika Schott PhD
Lovely, gentle words, Ken. I'd love to chance upon a bucket of roses for sharing on a walk one day. M.
Saturday, 27 February 2016 07:28
Rosy Cole
This is beautiful, Ken. A poem...I want to say...that shares the oxygen of simplicity. Such instances, as Sue shows, too, are clea... Read More
Saturday, 27 February 2016 13:10
1187 Hits

Ghost Birds


Here they come again...heading north....primeval, ancient wanderers. This morning's flight was the first group I've seen this year...actually heard because they are so high you can't really make them out. Their croaking call seems to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. They seem early but we are already into the 70s each day. They must leave Bosque del Apache at dawn and make it here north of Albuquerque by 10:30. They might make it to Colorado by sunset if they can get over the mountains.



High cranes 2


Cranes, lost to our sight


in the sun drenched sky above,


call out sad farewells.

high cranes


They'll be back next fall


to do it all once again.


The bosque awaits.



Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Wonderful feat of Nature. I've never seen a crane. Here in Norwich, we're very luck to see murmurations of starlings every after... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2016 12:30
Stephen Evans
Beautiful. - so graceful.
Sunday, 21 February 2016 16:10
Ken Hartke
Thanks for the comments. The cranes, when in a large flock, transcend time...they have been doing this for eons. They are like di... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2016 16:49
1086 Hits

Writing For Life

We are a small, friendly community who value writing as a tool for developing a brighter understanding of the world and humanity. We share our passions and experiences with one another and with a public readership. ‘Guest’ comments are welcome. No login is required. In Social Media we are happy to include interesting articles by other writers on any of the themes below. Enjoy!

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