Jacki Kellum

Juxtapositions: Read My Mind

Category: Moon

The Magic of Nursery Rhymes – Learn to Dance by the Light of the Moon

Image result for vintage hey diddle diddle

No doubt, the cow that jumped over the moon has inspired many a poet, artist, illustrator, and just plain visionary and/or liver of life. Because it is so very common, we might tend to overlook the importance of a simple rhyme like Hey, Diddle, Diddle, but allow me to remind you how very, very important simple nursery rhymes actually are:

Hey, diddle, diddle,

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Hey Diddle Diddle | Hey Diddle Diddle" nursery rhyme drawing:

Consider all of the fantastic things going on in those few lines. A pet animal has become so very real that he can play a musical instrument, and not only that, he is playing a song that makes folks want to dance. Life is being lived at the max: it is over the moon–heavenly–and common household items have become human. They have gotten married, and have run away for a life of bliss.

Life just does not get any better than what is described in Hey Diddle Diddle. I have spent my entire life, trying to get over that cow’s moon. Haven’t you?

Let’s give the cat, the fiddle, the cow, and the moon credit: They taught us how to dream.

I grew up reciting nursery rhymes, and I am quite sure that today, I still have a nursery-rhyme-mind. I think in cadences, and invariably, when I write a picture book manuscript, I do so in rhyme. The magic of childhood has been captured in nursery rhymes and by wonderful illustrators like Clara M. Burd who died 17 years before I was born in 1950.

I grew up chanting about Mistress Mary and her garden filled with cockle shells and cowslips all in a row, and to this day, I slave in my garden, trying to create a fairy tale escape for myself.

Jacki Kellum Garden Read Why Everyone Needs A Secret Garden Here at jackikellum.com

I grew up believing that Daddy had gone a hunting for a bunting to wrap me up and protect me in, and perhaps there is something wrong with that kind of fantasy, but I seriously doubt it. I believe that children need to be wrapped and swaddled and cuddled and protected. I believe that they need to learn to find magic and wonder while they can.

[Love Life and Life Will Love You Back by Margaret Tarrant who was still illustrating when I was born in 1950.]

I believe that children need to learn to love life. Certainly, as a child matures, life will find ways to come around and turn all of that magic on its head, but I believe that the child grounded in the wonder-world of nursery rhymes will have an arsenal to fight the evil that will surely come his way.

Image result for vintage humpty dumpty

Even as a child, I realized that things could go wrong. After all, Humpty Dumpty fell from his wall. A bit of reality is not bad, but I see no reason to turn children into cynics. As they become adults, they will have plenty of disappointment and set-backs. Eventually, fighting cynicism becomes difficult for most of us. Childhood is a time for picking rosebuds and for filling one’s well with optimism. It is a time for banking happiness and a time for preparing and for establishing attitudes that will hopefully carry us through the hard task of living.

Owl & Pussy-cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note. …

They took some honey, and plenty of money—what more could anyone want? Honey and money–the sweet stuff of life and PLENTY of money–enough money to pay the bills: that is more than enough for me, and that has become my mantra–Please, God, continue to provide me with what has become enough for me, and help me to Dance by the Light of Your Moon.

“Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

From Owl and the Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

They danced by the light of the moon– That is what I want to do. I want to Dance by the Light of the Moon, and because of God’s grace, I do.


On Silver Sheets, I Sail
by Jacki Kellum

Just before I open my eyes
I float along the misty skies.

I reach, I feel the soft, white hair
and fairy wings that flutter there.

I listen, I hear the slumber song,
The angel band that plays along

My dreams are in my pillow-pail.
On silver sheets, I sail.

©Jacki Kellum  July 4, 2017

©Jacki Kellum August 1, 2017


Old Tent Revivals, the Moon, & Me – Jacki Kellum Memoir

When I was very young, my rural hometown had a small movie theater, but it wasn’t there long. While I was growing up, my little cotton patch of a town was growing smaller. Poverty was in the process of boarding the Bootheel region of Southeast Missouri shut, but when I was a child, my little town was more than adequate. It was the spot that helped me weave a nest of memories, and that is more than enough.

A few years after our movie theater closed, someone temporarily set up a big tent and sold tickets to watch old movies. It seems to me that the tickets cost a quarter, but the cost of admission may have been less than that. The tent was golden yellow, and it looked just like the one that my grandmother’s church used for tent revivals. Not long ago, I walked outside and looked at the moon that was cradled above my back garden, and I remembered my childhood, its tent revivals, and the moon that has always enchanted me.


Full, But Hazy Autumn Moon
by Jacki Kellum 

Tonight, the moon is perched high in the sky, directly above the garden–just outside my back door.

Tonight, when I first got downstairs and looked out the sunroom window, my first thought was that it must be the moments just before dawn.

Everything around was fairly brightly lit, and I could faintly see the plants that were brave enough to have continued blooming after the cool, October air had tucked their neighbors into bed. Everything in my garden had a soft, muted, and faintly-colored, shimmering glow.

As I looked around, I thought: Tonight, the moonlight is bright, but this is not one of those hot-light nights like the ones when I used to walk home from church, well after sunset, and the hum of the locusts was so loud that the air seemed to rattle a song.

And tonight is not one of those nights when ladies in the church would beat around their faces with cardboard fans that had Jesus painted on them.

Yes, Lord, tonight’s moonlight is not like that when I used to go to the tent revivals with my grandmother, and I stood up and sat down beneath bare light bulbs that were strung across the top of the tent and dangled. And everyone sang. Shall We Gather at the River? 

Tonight’s light is not like that of the summer nights when my neighborhood friends and I would dart about the yard, playing tag and hide and seek. We would  run until the sweat dripped from our clothes. Then, we’d sit down and giggle on the back porch, drinking lemonade from rainbow-colored, aluminum glasses.

Tonight is not like the summer nights of my childhood. Tonight, there is no hot, blaring, bugle-like, jazz-singing, summer moon.

Tonight, there is only a soft, hazy, autumn moon–a cornstarch moon–kissed by honey, hanging in the dark.

Full but Hazy Autumn Moon ©Jacki Kellum October 28, 2015

©Jacki Kellum August 6, 2017


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