Lessons by Constance Hanstedt I’m pinching tomato plants and basil, pruning the purple morning glory as hummingbirds dip and dive on currents of memory. I smell the damp earth and recall my father’s muddied hands digging in his garden. Never crowd seeds together, he said. Give them room to grow. It was his confidence I loved then, his hearty laugh, his cotton rolled-up sleeves swiping sweat from his brows. Now, as I fill a watering can, I see him sprinkling his neat rows while eyeing the raspberries that separated our yard from the next. All summer I picked crimson clusters before supper, when humid air retreated and my skin felt the first cool rush of evening. Sparrows settled in the maple, and the earth grew quiet. As my father lounged in our screened-in porch with his pipe and a book on his lap, I understood the importance of a job well done. Shoulders lightened. Breaths deepened. Muscles softened like silky threads of moonlight. Fifty years later and I still remember his voice, coaxing tomatoes and carrots to rise, praising soft rains, their tender ballads of hope.
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Constance Hanstedt was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Livermore, California. She was employed as a high school English teacher and proofreader/editor before becoming the co-owner and CFO of a general contracting firm for 30 years. She is the author of the memoir Don’t Leave Yet, How My Mother’s Alzheimer’s Opened My Heart (She Writes Press, 2015), which was named a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in 2011 and a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in 2015. While she continues to write memoir and essays, poetry is her first love. Her poems explore the integral aspects of family, history, loss, redemption, and compassion. They have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Calyx, The Comstock Review, Rattle, Naugatuck River Review, The Porter Gulch Review, and California Writers Club Literary Review. Her poetry chapbook, Treading Water, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2022.
Constance has been on the Executive Board of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch since 2015. She is most proud of forming and leading the Poetry Critique Group, which meets twice a month and offers support, encouragement, and validation.
To learn more about Constance, visit her website at www.constancehanstedt.com.