Posted tagged ‘childhood’

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

July 5, 2015

Last night was wonderful except for the cold. I had to laugh when I looked at my guests and four of them were wearing their sweatshirt hoods and two of them were also wrapped in afghans. The rest of us also donned a sweatshirt or a jacket but no hoods. Dinner was a success from the appetizers to the dessert. The movie Independence Day was the perfect choice even though all of us had seen it. We clapped at the end of the president’s rousing speech about July 4th now being Independence Day for the world. Bill Pullman is way over the top, but I figure alien invaders bent on world annihilation deserve a speech more than a bit histrionic. Dessert was ice cream, just what we needed on a cold night, but the hot fudge and hot peanut butter sauces made the chill worthwhile. The evening ended quite late, after midnight. By the time I did a little cleaning and checked my e-mail, it was close to 3, but I still wasn’t tired. I watched a little TV, the perfect soporific, and shortly thereafter went to bed. I crawled out of bed at 11 this morning. I hope my neighbors didn’t wonder if I survived the night as my paper was still in the driveway.

One of my most memorable days was July 4th when I was around 12 or 13. We didn’t go to the fireworks, but I could see them from the hill behind my house. The colors would burst into circles first one then another. Some were single circles. Some were triples. They were beautiful. A couple of my neighbors were also watching and afterwards they invited in for a root beer. We sat around the kitchen table talking. The conversation went all over the place. They didn’t speak to me as if I were a kid, and that’s what I remember the most, how that conversation was the first tug of adulthood. I was a pushmi-pullyu looking in two different directions. Little changed that night, but the changes were starting.

“It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time.”

June 22, 2015

The sun is in and out this morning trying to decide what to do. The air is still damp and a bit humid. Right now the sky is dark but the sun is peeking through. Rain is predicted for this afternoon so I’m thinking the sun will disappear for good a bit later.

It is officially summer, and it’s barbecue time. Bring out the ribs, the burgers and the chicken wings then add some sweet summer corn. My home-grown tomatoes are getting bigger on the vine and before too long they’ll be red ripe. July 4th is opening night at the movies. I have three possibilities on the ballot: Independence Day, Jaws and 1776. I’m leaning toward Jaws as it is celebrating its 40th birthday. “We need a bigger boat,” says it all. I have decorations and sparklers and I’m working on the menu. Red, white and blue will carry the day!

Memory is an odd thing. I have vivid memories of my childhood, but I sometimes hunt high and low for where I put my glasses. Some singular moments stand out from all the others, and I don’t know why. They aren’t particularly important moments, but they stay prominent regardless. One memory is silly. I was on the plane to Ghana and we stopped in Madrid. When we got back on the plane, my seatbelt was caught between the seat and the wall so I couldn’t use it. I pretended I was belted when the stewardess went around checking seatbelts. I don’t know why I just didn’t ask for help.

I sat in the back of the room when I was in the sixth grade, but in the front of the room when I was in the eighth. Neither really matters, but I still remember how the rooms looked from each perspective. I remember the candy counter at the movie theater. My favorite nickel bar of candy was a Welch’s Fudge Bar. They aren’t around anymore. My second favorite was a Skybar. You can still buy one of those. The fudge square was my favorite, probably still is. I remember how funny my feet felt in shoes after ice skating. My bologna sandwiches were misshapen because I had to cut pieces from a roll of bologna and some pieces were thick while others were too thin.

I can still close my eyes and see and describe places as they were. I don’t think of it as a trip down memory lane but rather as an adventure back in time.

“Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”

June 17, 2014

The streets were wet this morning so it rained during the night. The morning started out as cloudy, but the sun is in and out so I hope it might just end up being a pleasant afternoon.

That was one exciting soccer game last night. The US scored in just the first forty or so seconds but Ghana later tied the score. After the US broke the tie, I sat on the edge of my seat for what seemed like forever, but Ghana didn’t score. The US won 2-1.

I have only caught 4 mice in the cellar trap. The fourth was released last night. He had been in the trap about a day and was totally scared, even in a panic. It took a while before he’d leave the trap. I hope he finds some friends in his new neighborhood. I’ll bait then return the trap to the cellar later. Mice do like peanut butter.

Every time we went to the beach when I was young, I collected shells and a few dead starfish. The shells I got to keep but not the starfish. They always started to stink and out they went. Sometimes I’d find a really neat stone by the water, a flat, round stone with different shades of gray across it, and I’d save that too. Those shells and stones were my first collection.

I’ve noticed that being a kid and being older have a lot in common. I know if I wore plaids and prints or plaids and poker dots people would just think my ensemble was chosen by an old woman who has lost her fashion sense. When I was a kid, we didn’t have any fashion sense. I wore what was in the bureau drawer, and matching wasn’t taken into account. At stores like Woolworth’s or Grant’s, I always took my time choosing what to buy with my dime or quarter. My slowness probably drove the adults crazy, but I never noticed their impatience. I do notice old people in stores and how slowly they walk or push their carriages, and I’m often caught behind them. They stop in the middle of the aisle. I say excuse me so I can pass but most times they don’t move. I figure they didn’t hear me so I ask more loudly. If they don’t move,  I just backtrack and change aisles. I wonder sometimes if I am looking at my future and one day I’ll be in the middle of the aisle. Kids and old people are discourteous at times. I used to think old people felt entitled because they had lasted so long. Kids just do what they can away with doing.

It occurred to me that there is a name for this phenomenon, for this similarity. First there’s childhood then second childhood with all its rights and privileges.

“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.”

May 11, 2012

Today is a pretty day. Out my window here by the desk, I can see the sun shining on the leaves of the giant oak tree, and the leaves shimmer each time even the slightest breeze moves them. Fern is sprawled on the rug in the sun where it streams through the front door. Grace is sitting on the deck watching the yard. Maddie is on the dining room table-her usual perch.

I have very little ambition. I do have one errand, but it will wait until later in the day. Gracie can come with me for the ride, and that will make her afternoon.

My favorite part of being a kid was having little or no responsibility. I had to go to school, and I had to do well but that last part was my compulsion, not my parents’ demand. They were casual about report cards. We kids were never planners. We’d decided in the moment what we wanted to do. List making was a long way in the future, except for those Christmas lists for Santa. I remember we’d say, “When I grow up,” not really understanding exactly what that meant. I just saw being grown-up as an ideal time when I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

What a shock I got when I did grow up. A job? I have to have a job? Car payments too? Rent, food, clothes-is there no end to the responsibilities of being a grown-up? Where’s the fun? Where’s doing what I want?

I did get to travel, but that grew out of my childhood dreams. Adulthood just gave me the means. Friday, the end of the work week, took Saturday’s place as my favorite day of the week. No more Saturday matinees: it was now chore day. Sunday was dump day and plan my lessons day. If I went out, it was usually Saturday night or maybe an occasional Friday happy hour, both literally and figuratively. I just compressed my adulthood into a single paragraph.

Now I am back to doing what I want when I want. Sometimes that means I want to do nothing. I’m figuring today is one of those days. I’m going to join Fern, Maddie and Gracie and just while away the day. I have a few books I’ve yet to read.

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

July 15, 2011

The day is so beautiful I couldn’t bear to go inside so my mac and I are on the deck and so is Gracie. She is in the shaded corner and is asleep so deeply the tip of her tongue is out. The day is filled with sounds. I can hear the different birds as if in stereo, and I can hear the rattle when they land on one of the larger feeders. The fountain, though, one of my favorite sounds was quiet until I added water. Gracie thinks it’s here for her as it is the exact right height. She drinks out of it often so I keep water on the deck for refilling purposes.

Last night was cold, sweatshirt cold, and my feet needed slippers before they got warm. It was 56°, September weather. Tonight will be in the 60’s, perfect for sleeping. A few days ago I had the AC blasting, and I couldn’t even stay on the deck for the heat.

Sometimes I want to be ten years old again. Nothing bothered me then. I didn’t care about the heat or the cold. Bugs were fun and grasshoppers were the most fun. In my mind’s eye I can still see the brown field below our house and the grasshoppers which jumped in front of our every step. Our hands were quick then and we could catch them in the air. Running through the field and catching brown grasshoppers was a game, and we always let them go.

When I was ten, every new day was filled with adventure. My future was the afternoon and never beyond it in time. We lived for that day and no further until the next day, and it too was the only day. Some nights we’d sleep in the backyard, but that always a spur of the moment decision. We’d put the old tarp my dad kept in the cellar over the grass and bring out pillows and blankets. I never felt the hardness of the ground. I was involved in the adventure.

When I was ten, every day was a wonder. Since my retirement, almost every day is mine, and I am again finding that sense of wonder, but unlike the ten year old me, I have to plan and make appointments, and I begrudge losing even a minute of my day. I do more spur of the moment things than I have in years, but sleeping on the hard ground doesn’t happen to be one of them.

“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.”

July 8, 2011

Today is a favorite sort of days. Earlier, I was awakened by the sound of a torrential rain storm. The rain came straight down and pounded the deck and umbrellas. That was the sound I heard: rain hitting the umbrellas, almost as good as rain on a tin roof. The rain stopped quickly giving me enough time to run for the papers. In a bit after that, it started again but far more gently. The day is dark, and I have turned on a light. Sitting in my house surrounded by rain with a single light brightening the room gives me a cozy feeling, a feeling of being safe and warm and dry. Those feelings coupled with the wonderful sounds of rain are why this sort of day is a favorite.

Yesterday a giant crow used my deck as a perch. I heard him first and looked out the window to investigate the sounds I was hearing. He was strutting up and down and stopping occasionally to caw. I think it’s the same crow who visits often. He never eats from the feeders but just sits on a branch near the deck making noise or preening his feathers. I think he’s beautiful. I also think he’s huge.

As a kid, I don’t remember ever watching birds, except seagulls. Flowers and gardens went unnoticed, but the garbage truck got a great deal of attention as did the garbage man. The rag man too was a favorite with his horse and wagon. Back then, my world was filled with people who did the neatest things and roamed the neighborhoods offering their services. The sharpening knives and scissors man rode a bicycle and shouted as he pedaled through. My mother sometimes sent me with her knives. The milk man came every other day, and I could hear the clinking of the bottles and the sound of his truck left running as he went from neighbor to neighbor. The trash truck came once a week, and my dad dragged his barrels to the sidewalk before he left for work. The ice cream man came about the same time every afternoon. He had a bell, a sound we all recognized as belonging to Johnny and his truck. The paperboy threw our paper against the front door usually about an hour before school. He came around himself to collect for the paper every week. We knew the mailman. He was on our route for years. Around my birthday, I’d sit on the steps and wait for him to come hoping he was bringing cards with a bit of cash inside.

I have a newspaper person who delivers before I’m awake. I’ve never seen her even though she’s delivered my papers for years. Bill is my mailman, and he waves from his truck as he leaves the mail in the box across the street. If I have a package, he’ll walk it over to my house. My landscaper lives next door.

My childhood was wonderfully filled with the most interesting people who were pieces in the fabric of my life. Some came every day, some less often, but I knew them. They were like friends in an odd sort of way. Now I only have two I know and one I don’t. It makes my world emptier and far less interesting.

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.”

January 7, 2011

The sun is a blur behind light gray clouds. It gives the day some light but provides no heat and only accentuates the bare branches of the tall oak tree behind my deck. I need to go out later, and I’m dreading the cold. Even in the house I’m layered.

The bird feeders are empty, and I miss my birds.  Since my surgery, I haven’t been as faithful in filling them but that ends today. I’ll go out as soon as I finish here as a bit of snow is coming, and I’ll feel guilty if I  see birds checking empty feeders.

My life has had a different symmetry since the surgery. I seldom picked up a book to read; every night I woke up several times because of the pain, and I didn’t go out unless someone drove me. That has begun to change. I finished a book yesterday, drove my car and was up at 9 yesterday having slept through the night. Slowly my life is returning to normal.

When I was a kid, I recognized it when I got taller. I used to compare my height to my mother’s and couldn’t wait until I was taller than she was. It was like a kid’s one-upmanship. It didn’t change the hierarchy, but I felt a bit superior anyway. The first change of any consequence was puberty. It wasn’t my favorite. All of a sudden my childhood was vanishing.

When it finally disappeared, I didn’t notice.

“Four seasons fill the measure of the year; there are four seasons in the minds of men.”

September 26, 2010

Yesterday was summer. Today is fall and much cooler than it’s been. It’s a long sleeve sort of day. On my way to breakfast this morning, I noticed some of the leaves have turned. I saw reds and yellows. I also saw pumpkins and corn stalks decorating a few houses and yards. Autumn colors are my favorites.

When I was a little kid, I explored my world and watched the seasons change. I noticed everything. In the spring, the field was lush and green. Tadpoles swam in the swamp and were easily captured in a jar. The blueberry bushes were filled with blossoms. The air smelled clean and new. In summer, the tall grass turned brown. The days and nights got noisy. Insects buzzed and whirred, and katydids calling from the grass were easily caught in our hands. The swamp had darning needles skimming across the water. They’d stop and hover for a bit then flit to another spot. They’re wings were transparent in the sun. In fall, the trees were bursting with color. The morning air was chilly when we walked to school. The sun set early. Saturdays were when fathers all over the neighborhood raked and burned leaves. It was pumpkin time. Then came drab winter. Christmas was winter’s only spot of color, and it was no wonder we all took rides to see the lights. The next part of winter was the snow. The first flakes of the season were cause for trumpets and bugles and heralds proclaiming snow was finally falling. I loved the mornings after a snowstorm when the tops of the snowdrifts glittered in the sun like they were covered in tiny diamonds. The it was spring again.

When I got older, my days were filled with friends and school, and I barely took notice of the  seasons. A change in wardrobe was my only response. My eyes would catch a glimpse of the reds and yellows, but I had stopped being amazed. I just didn’t have the time to notice.

Now, I notice everything. I have plenty of time to stop and look and be amazed. It’s fun to be part of the change in seasons again. It makes me feel a bit like a kid again.

“Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.”

September 23, 2010

The last two days have been magnificent, coffee and papers on the deck mornings and lazy in the sun afternoons. This morning two nuthatches reprimanded me. They weren’t at all pleased to find the feeders empty. Feeling guilty, I went to the car, brought in the new bag of seed, filled the feeders then cleaned and filled the birdbath. The birds arrived in droves, and I went back to my coffee and papers.

I have odd memories of events which happened when I was really little. They seem to have no context and stand singly. One memory has to do with a pond and a half submerged row boat. I remember water lilies and leeches and my mother screaming. I can still see white Adirondack chairs standing by the water, and I have a hazy memory of my father’s aunt. I don’t remember my great-grandmother, on my father’s side, but I can still see the narrow wooden stairs in her house which connected one floor with another. I do remember my great-grandfather, on my mother’s side, who used to sit by the giant heater in my grandmother’s living room. He scared me, and I’d run by him as quickly as I could. I didn’t remember why I ran until my mother told me he once took my Easter basket away.

At 37 Washington Ave., the stairs had a landing. I remember playing there with my dolls. I was probably no older than five or six as we were still there when my sister, five years younger than I, was born. 16 Washington Ave. was where we moved shortly after that. I always think it funny that the houses are remembered by their numbers.

I have tons of memories of Christmas though most of them have jumbled together over the years. For some reason, though, I remember the ice skates. They were old ones, the kind that buckled to your shoes. When I first woke up, they weren’t under the tree. Later that day they were. When I asked my mother, she told me I must have missed them, but I knew I hadn’t.

My last memory stills make me laugh. I wore braces for years, including the ones where tiny elastics were stretched from my lower to my upper braces. I remember sitting behind my father in the car and talking when one elastic flew  out of my mouth and hit him in the back of the neck. He swatted his neck like he’d been bitten by a wasp. I suppose I must have said something, but I don’t remember it. Maybe I just laughed.

“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.”

September 5, 2010

Days like today usually come only in novels or in movies enhanced by special effects. The sun is bright and piercing, the air warm in the sunlight. A breeze blows the branches and shakes the leaves. It’s a beautiful day.

I can see and feel the coming of fall.  The shadows on the deck have moved, have shifted with the sun. The nights are sweatshirt cold. I stayed inside this morning for coffee and the papers. The sun hadn’t yet warmed the deck. I missed my morning ritual, but I’ll have the sun in the afternoon.

When I was a kid, life was simple. The weather was warm or cold, dry or rainy. Days were school days or weekend days. Saturday was for fun, Sunday for church and family. I had play clothes, school clothes and Sunday clothes. I had two of pairs of shoes, one for playing in and the other for wearing to school and church. I had few boundaries or limits. Streetlights were one. Time was a number for me, hands on a clock. I didn’t understand it had significance beyond the moment. My life was in small chunks, and I only looked as far as a day or two. The worst things in life were eating vegetables, getting up to go to school, doing homework and going to bed too early. I did have all sorts of dreams. By the time I was eleven, I knew I’d travel. I never thought about the when or the what. I just knew I would. Being a kid was easy.

This blog gives me a chance to remember.