Volume 2, Issue xi
Wild Greens 2, no. 11 (September 2022)
Welcome to the September 2022 issue of Wild Greens
We have a first time celebrity contributor this month: my mom, Pat Lipperini! When I read her essay, “Jars and Plenty,” it brought me to tears, and I knew it would make the perfect opening for the September issue. In her writing, my mom recalls a time of plenty—a zucchini bonanza—with her own mother, and shows how making recipes in the kitchen is a way to keep memories alive. She gives us, as it were, a recipe for living.
We continue with the first of two digital comics by Melissa Lomax, “Poochie Weekly Chat,” which depicts the steadfastness of sister-friendship.
For the first time, Wild Greens features a serialized story! Myra Chappius’s story is “Lost and Found,” which we will release in installments across six issues. The theme of this first installment is loyalty to old friends. At the story’s beginning, the protagonist gets a call from an estranged friend, who she is bound to by trust built over many years. The enduring strength of childhood relationships is the subject of “Best Friends,” Robin Brownfield’s mosaic of her son, depicted here as a five year old with his best friend. Their friendship is repeated in the presence of two loyal dogs by their sides.
Colleen T. Reese’s poem “Devotion” explores being loyal to craft in ways both positive and negative. The dedication to a rich interior life, and the sense of duty to cultivate that inner life, impact how we interact with the world.
In Lauren Kimball’s latest Turtle and Hare, Hare gets involved in a seedy business, and Turtle is a blissfully silly accomplice.
Douglas Hardman’s poem “roundtable comrades,” is a love letter to the poet’s friends, pitched in grand, romantic images that recast friendship as characters around an Arthurian roundtable. Those fantasy elements are picked up in Marina Scheinberg’s acrylic on canvas, “Noble Steed.” Marina explains her winding road to inspiration for the piece, from the loyalty of pawns to queens on chess boards to Donkey in Shrek.
Aimee Nicole’s poem “Confession” explores how cultivating fierce loyalty to ourselves is a necessary first step toward making us more authentic in our relationships with others.
Phedra Deonarine’s two upcycled acrylics on paper plates, “Little Garden: Part 1” and “Little Garden: Part 2” speak to our dedication to cultivating our gardens. Hayley Boyle’s poem finds “Moments of Sincerity” in memories some people might discard: from relationships since passed.
Melissa Lomax’s second digital comic is an image of a person hugging the bright side. And Gratia Serpento’s story finds this bright side even in grief. Gratia’s story, “Loyalty After Death,” about her deceased turtle and her new dog, is a beautiful portrait of how we don’t move on after the death of someone we loved. Instead, we carry them with us in the new relationships we form.
Often when I think about ordering all the different elements of Wild Greens, I’ll realize that pieces fall into natural groups and pairs. When I was pairing groups in this longer issue, I found that Gratia’s exploration of “Loyalty after Death” lead me back full circle to the beginning of the issue. The circle is a symbol of loyalty. Whether it be zucchini rings, a tortoise shell, or arms wrapped around in an embrace.
Jars and Plenty
Our hayride took us to the zucchini field and, of course, we picked the biggest ones we could find because that’s what you do when your helper is your three-year-old granddaughter. But hours later that zucchini lay stacked on my kitchen counter in a quiet challenge. And in that challenge, I returned to another time of bounty with an abundance of vegetables, yes. But also, a richness of life and love and comfort.
It has always been one of those fun family memories—the time we picked so much zucchini from the big garden at my aunt’s farm that there was nowhere to turn but to make ratatouille. And so my mother and aunt went to work and hours later the house overflowed with all sizes of jars, cans, and bowls full to the brim with this stewed treat. And then I watched them laugh amidst the chaos and absurdity of it all. And somehow, I knew that this day was a good day, even though no one really knew what to do with hundreds of containers of ratatouille.
So, as I begin to chop and sauté my zucchini, I battle that inextinguishable instinct to call my mother and laugh along with her in this memory. But she passed away last December, and I can’t make those calls anymore. I can’t ask her how to make ratatouille and I won’t ever hear her excited voice describing the broccoli soufflé she tried to make after first tasting it at Peg Hafner’s house.
I still have her handwritten recipes in my books, the must-make new favorite that everyone should try. I make her cheesy potatoes, her garlic butter chicken, her chocolate sheet cake. For that matter, I still make my aunt’s crumbcake and her no-flour icing, my mother-in-law’s gnocchi and her ricotta cookies. All those great women. All those memorable meals. All that love and effort surrounding and enhancing their kitchen tables. Their classics have become part of my repertoire. And though I have tweaked and adjusted amounts and directives through the years, I operate within the contours of the original. It is still their food that feeds my family. And with each creation I announce: This is Noni’s Easter Bread. This is Grammy’s cucumber salad. This is Peeto’s (my aunt’s) banana cake. Why do I preface it so?
As I stir my softening zucchini and remember that long ago day of ridiculous plenty, I realize that using their recipes has never been just about making the food. I can hear their laughter through the steam of the vegetables and know that we use our family recipes because we want these people in the room with us once again. Not to help us with our cooking but to help us with our living.
I remember that ratatouille day for all the jars. But what tugs at my memory even more is the camaraderie, the joy, the effort, the sense of purpose, the need to create and not waste. And this was not confined to that day in the kitchen. It was who these women were. It was how they approached life. We long to hear our mothers’ voices to touch that essence, to absorb the ingredients and directions that produced such flavorful lives and to return to a time when goodness and strength enclosed us. But we can’t. So we cook their food. We stir and urge and pull out of that cake, that ratatouille, our own moments of safe mooring and suggestions of a benign world. Our mothers and aunts and fathers and grandfathers gave us that, not merely through their cooking, but through the honest living of their lives. Perhaps it is really that recipe which we try to replicate, and in the trying, we are loyal to their living.
As I place my aunt’s lebkuchen cookies, my mother-in-law’s potato pancakes, or my mother’s chocolate-peanut candy on the table, I am making a statement. Not just that their food is delicious. But that their lives were worthwhile, valuable, necessary for the world. I use their recipes as witness, as recognition. I use their recipes in faithfulness to them and maybe to strengthen a promise I made to live with the same integrity and whole-hearted love. That is the recipe I long to perfect because it is what will truly nourish my family.
Poochie Weekly Chat
Digital Drawing & Color
Inspiration: The steadfast relationship I have with my sister, Megan aka Poochie, is something that I am eternally grateful for. Even though there are several states between us, our weekly phone chat makes it feel like we are side by side. Our conversations can range from serious and heartfelt to lighthearted and random but no matter what, I always enjoy it! Thanks for your sisterhood and friendship, Poochie! For more true-blue stories, visit DoodleTownComic.com!
If you like the issue, you can donate to Wild Greens through our Ko-fi page!
Lost and Found (part 1)
Editor's note: Lost and Found will be serialized across six issues. Tune in next month for the second installment.
Recycled glass tiles on wood
Methods: Search several months for one particular old photo, draw it 800% larger on wood, glue tiles via a color-by-number-like plan, grout
Inspiration: This is from a photo of my son and his best friend when they were five years old. Watching are two loyal puppies who want to hang out with their best friends.
See behind the scenes of Wild Greens. Our Ko-fi page contains concept art for past issues.
Acrylic paint on canvas
Methods: Painted background to foreground with acrylic paint
Little Garden: Part 1 and Little Garden: Part 2
Moments of Sincerity
The Bright Side
Pencil Drawing & Digital Color
Inspiration: I tend to look for "silver linings" in life and as a cartoonist, I also like to draw emotions as characters. Through my positive outlook, 'The Bright Side' perspective has evolved into a huggable creature that's always around for a pick-me-up! This illustration is available in a postcard set of 6 different designs. During September, it comes with a free artist print! lomaxandpatch.bigcartel.com
Loyalty After Death
Growing up, I’d been fascinated by turtles. They’d been my greatest love and my favorite animal. I’d often daydream about putting a giant rubber turtle in my local pool and swimming with it like they do in Disney movies—because, to a child, that made perfect sense. My love of the shelled creatures then moved on to the land variety: tortoises. I dreamt of riding on top of their massive shells, braving the heat.
I was ten and a half years old when I got my first pet, a sulcata tortoise. It was a bit different than an average first pet, but I grew up on a ranch, so I was used to a variety of animals. I named her Gladice Miracle Peterson, and I loved her every day that I had her.
She had the personality of an old lady, and she was ten pounds, round, and large. The Galactic Gladiator, as I often called her, made snorting sounds and chased after anything orange. I’d shred carrots for her every day and try to cuddle with her bumpy and rough exterior. She didn’t seem to enjoy it much, but she’d sit there and let me do my thing. I’d dress her in crocheted accessories. I took her with me when we evacuated during the 2020 Oregon wildfires, and I spent every day rubbing the bumps in her shell. I even earned the nickname The Tortoise Girl at school.
I loved Gladice, even after I lost her. She passed unexpectedly, just three days before my fifteenth birthday. I wish there were a word to describe my grief—when I picked her up and realized she wouldn’t wake up ever again. When I froze and carried her body out to the living room where my family sat around, laughing, preparing for the birthday shenanigans that were soon to take place—when they saw my shocked face and saw Gladice. When I said, “She’s dead,” and fell to the floor, and my heart jerked as I cried harder than I ever had before.
Having Gladice was such an integral part of my life. It was a piece in my puzzle, right at the center—a piece taken so harshly. She was supposed to outlive me, yet I outlived her.
At the time, I wasn’t in the best state to ask where my family buried her. Part of me wants to know so that I can close the chapter. But the other part doesn’t, afraid to reopen the wound—a double-edged sword of grief.
The day after I lost her, I didn’t talk much. I couldn’t open my mouth, couldn’t look at anything of Gladice’s, without crying. One thing to know about my parents is that they’re solution finders. If there’s a problem, they want to fix it. My grief was a problem. My inability to want to wake up was a problem. So they looked for ways to fix it.
When my dad saw an ad for an adorable Maltese-Pomeranian puppy, he showed it to me, and my heart melted. It had the puffiest black hair, a white spot on his chest and chin, and big brown eyes that looked right at the camera with a hint of a judging but loving gaze. But I didn’t want the dog.
“I just want Gladice back—I don’t want another pet. She was everything I needed and wanted,” I had told him. Well, more or less. I kind of blubbered it into his chest, and I’m not sure if he completely understood.
“Gladice would want you to move on,” he told me. But I couldn’t believe that. My dad held me and said something more, but I can’t remember. The days after her death were a haze, a lucid dream—a nightmare. Whatever it was, though, he somehow convinced me to get that dog. We set the date to pick him up for Saturday, only five days after Gladice’s death.
“I feel like I’m replacing her,” I whispered to my sister as we went to bed that Friday night. She hugged me and said something that made me cry—which wasn’t hard; I was constantly crying. But what she said temporarily eased the ache in my heart.
The next day, we arrived to find that the people who posted the ad were a married couple between their seventies and eighties. The wife had to finish giving the dog his bath first. We talked with the husband about his life and our lives until she returned and presented the little dog from the ad to us.
I hated the idea of Insta-love in books and TV shows, but the moment I saw him, I knew I’d love that dog for the rest of my life. He jumped into my arms, gave me the biggest licks—much bigger than you’d expect from a little four-pounder—and let me cuddle him. He smelled like an old person’s house and was the softest thing I’d ever felt.
By the time we got home, I’d given him a name. I was always quick to give names to things. I gave the little pup a full, pretentious, proper name, as all good dogs should have.
Bernard Ernest Peterson, the first.
Or, rather, Bernie Ernie for short. Often referred to as Bern, Bernie-baby, black hole, demon, or Stop-it-Bernie-no!
The next week of my life was so hectic that I didn’t feel any grief. As many should know, a puppy is a full-time job. With potty training, sleeping, feeding, napping, and playing, Bernie kept my mind off everything. He was a chewer, too, so I constantly had to tell him no, stop, and please-have-mercy-it’s-six-a.m.-on-summer-break-go-back-to-sleep.
It was about two weeks later when I thought about Gladice again. Not a passing thought—I had plenty of those, she never quite left my mind—but a real thought. A long thought.
I did replace Gladice. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to, because I couldn’t live without her. She was a central part of me. Her purpose was to love me and help me love others. To be someone I could fall back on. Without her, I had a void, a darkness, a black hole that sucked all my joy into it.
Bernie took her place, her purpose. He brought me joy and love and gave me something to hold when my tears became too much. He replaced her job. But he never replaced her.
I love him. I love him so much. And my love for him helps me love Gladice. Bernie’s a living memory. He helps me remember the good parts of Gladice. Her beginnings. Of the trials and tribulations I went through when I first got her. Of the first baths and first accessories. I think, by some force of the universe, someone knew I needed him.
Loyalty in life is about sticking by someone. But what about loyalty after death? When their life has stopped, but you have to keep moving?
You move on, but you never cut the cord that bound you. Instead, you add to it, like how you visit a grave and dress it with flowers and kiss it with memories. And you bring a friend—to share the love of life with. You spread the love of the first with the love of the next.
I think that’s the best way to find loyalty after death.
Artists and Contributors
Writer and Copyeditor
Myra Chappius (she/her) is the author of six works of fiction and poetry. While her passion lies with shorter creations, it is her aspiration to complete a full-length novel and screenplay someday. She enjoys reading, music, travel, and learning. When not doing mom things, she is working full-time, seeing the latest movie, or waiting an acceptable length of time before returning to Universal Orlando to satiate her Harry Potter obsession.
Robin Brownfield (she/her) is a former sociology professor in Collingswood, New Jersey who turned to mosaic art after becoming disabled. She was featured in a FOX-29 (Philadelphia) News report, because after sharing a series of award-winning “Black Lives Matter” mosaic portraits online, she was commissioned by Tamika Palmer to do a mosaic portrait of her daughter, Breonna Taylor, whose death, in part, launched a rebirth of the Black Lives Matter movement. That portrait can be seen in the documentary “Bree Way: Promise Witness Remembrance.” Her award-winning artwork has been in galleries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York City, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, and San Francisco. She recently finished supervising a community mosaic mural project entitled “Childhood Memories,” which she designed at Thomas Sharp Elementary School in Collingswood, NJ. Above the mural honoring her is a plaque making her one of those old dead people (in the future) who nobody ever heard of, but whose name is on a plaque. Visit her website, www.robinbrownfieldmosaics.com, to see more of her work.
Colleen T. Reese
Colleen T. Reese is a lifelong reader and writer. She currently lives in Philadelphia where she works as a content strategist.
Lauren Kimball (she/her) lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
You can find her comics on Instagram @turtle_n_hare_comic.
Marina (she/her) is a registered nurse who resides in South Jersey. She has always had an interest in art, and began taking lessons at a young age at My Studio in Haddon Township, NJ. Marina enjoys drawing and painting in her spare time, and also does commission artwork. Marina gets most of her inspiration from hiking, traveling, and movies.
Phedra (she/her) likes gardens and public libraries. She writes fiction.
Poet and Arts Editor
Hayley (she/her) creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and storyteller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home and wouldn't have it any other way. You can find Hayley on Instagram @hayley3390 or @haypaints. She accepts commissions, and you can find examples of her work on her website.
Jessica Doble (she/her) holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She's published two critical works: “Hope in the Apocalypse: Narrative Perspective as Negotiation of Structural Crises in Salvage the Bones” Xavier Review, and “Two-Sides of the Same Witchy Coin: Re-examining Belief in Witches through Jeannette Winterson’s The Daylight Gate” in All about Monsters. Her poetry has appeared in PubLab and Wild Greens magazine.
Jacqueline (she/her) is a senior undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, working toward earning her BA in English and creative writing. She was a 2021 publishing fellow with the Los Angeles Review of Books and served as a co-editor, copyeditor, and producer on the fourth issue of PubLab journal. As a bookworm, writer, and homebody at heart, she spends her spare time looking for new fictional worlds she can lose herself in and working on crafting stories of her own.
Maggie Topel (she/her) is an artist and writer living in Philadelphia. She designs our seasonal Wild Greens logo and social media avatar.
Rebecca Lipperini (she/her) is a writer, teacher, and academic living in Philadelphia, and the founding editor of Wild Greens magazine (hi!). She holds a PhD in English from Rutgers University, where she taught all kinds of classes on literature and poetry and writing, and wrote all kinds of papers on the same. Her essay on the soothing aesthetics of the supermarket was recently published in PubLab.