Posted tagged ‘kids’

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

June 30, 2017

I love this morning. It isn’t sunny but it is windy and cool. I can hear the leaves rustling and the tinkling of the chimes from my backyard. Out my window I can see the branches being tossed by the wind. They look like dancers swaying and bending in the same direction. The weather report said sun, but I don’t miss it. A cloudy day has its own beauty.

The kids from down the street woke me again this morning. It was around 8:30. They were playing in front of one of their houses. I heard a couple of them singing, but I have no idea of the song. I also heard a couple of them yelling and a couple of them screaming. They’re gone now except for one, the oldest. He is shooting baskets. I can hear the ball when it hits the road and when he dribbles. I have no idea what happened to the rest of them.

Our girl scout camp, Camp Aleeska, was in the woods at the end of a sandy road across the street from the zoo entrance. The camp was in a pine forest and had been built by the fathers of scouts. Inside was one huge room with a tall fireplace and storage benches lining two walls. The kitchen and bathroom were off the big room as was a small room where the adults slept. Cots, the old canvas type with the wooden bars at each end, were stored in the benches. A couple of times, my troop went on overnights at the camp. After we had brought in the food, we set up our cots with a lot of laughter as sometimes they collapsed. We went on hikes and followed trails in the pine woods. Other times we did stuff to earn another badge for our sashes. We all had jobs like cooking, cleaning, doing dishes or sweeping. I remember the stew we usually had for dinner, poor man’s stew. It was hamburger, a can of soup, potatoes, carrots and sometimes canned corn. The stew cooked a long time on the stove. It was always delicious. I remember cooking breakfast with eggs and bacon and toast. We each had a single task at every meal. I always hated it when I had to wash dishes.

I loved the inside of that camp. It had the aroma of a wood fire. It was always quiet as there was nothing near us. We made the only noise.

The camp is gone now as are the trees that kept it hidden. It is the site of construction equipment and piles of sand. I don’t know when the camp was demolished. I’m sorry for its loss as no one else will make memories there.

“There’s nothing more beautiful than watching trees getting dressed up for Spring and Summer”

May 20, 2017

Today is much cooler than yesterday. Last night or rather this morning when I took Gracie out around 1:30 I was chilly, taken by surprise by how cold it had gotten. Today will be 57˚ and tonight will go down to 48˚. Yesterday afternoon I had my air conditioner on.

It rained yesterday for about fifteen minutes. The drops started out huge. They fell almost one at a time before they became smaller and more persistent. After the storm, the air smelled of summer rain.

Today is quiet. There are no kids playing or dogs barking. I don’t even hear a lawn mower. Even my house is quiet. Maddie and Gracie are sleeping.

I’ve seen three rabbits this week. One was a bit burly, and the other two were small. Gracie noticed the burly one in my front yard and scratched the door and barked hoping to get out. She didn’t. That we have rabbits tells me the coyotes are elsewhere. That also means the skunks are probably around.

I have one errand today and nothing else on my to-do list.

I hope to open my deck this week. It would have been the spot to be on those two hot days. The furniture needs to be uncovered and scrubbed. The decorations and candles need to be hung on the branches though finding enough spots might be trouble as some of the branches were cut down. The rug needs to be brought out. I have to buy my flowers for the window boxes and the herbs for the side garden. I have to buy gas for the grill as the first movie night means grilling for dinner. The list is long before I can welcome summer.

“First a voice; then an echo. Then nothing.”

July 10, 2016

Today is yesterday continued. It is cloudy, damp and still a bit chilly. The one difference is the sky looks a tad lighter so maybe there is hope for a better afternoon. Today I will finally pot those plants. I drag the soil bag from my car to the front walk then I nursed my back all last night. Such effort must not go to waste.

This morning my breakfast hardened back to my childhood. I had a bowl of Rice Krispies to which I added a cut banana. That cereal still snaps, crackles and pops. I remember putting my ear close to the bowl so I could hear the sound.

When I was a kid, there were so many different sounds I don’t hear much anymore. The pop of the toaster is one I remember well. Our toaster was noisy. It was also usually covered with crumbs. Two slots meant only two pieces of toast at a time. There were four of us so two of us had to practice patience. We didn’t do well with that.

The slamming of screen doors all summer long drove my mother crazy. She’d yell at us not to slam the door. We always did anyway. It was the quickest way to get out of the house. Screen doors now shut on their own.

My neighborhood was filled with kids. We all lived in a sea of duplexes. The ones at the top of the hill had their back doors facing our back doors at the bottom of the hill. Mothers always yelled out the back doors at lunch time and at dinner time. They always yelled names so the kids playing in the yards would know who had to go inside. By supper time the yards were empty, the kids all gone inside. My neighborhood here has a lot of kids: nine of them. They stay close to home so no yelling is necessary. I never hear a screen door slamming or a mother yelling.

Roller skates on sidewalks made a distinctive sound, a clacking sound. Those were the four wheel skates that fit over my shoes. They had a leather strap across the top of my foot and a front grip I tightened to my shoes using a key. Many times the skate fell off but only the  front part. Losing the key was the worst of all. There wasn’t any way to tighten the skates. I just had to hope someone else’s key worked.

So many other sounds are gone mostly without us noticing. Our world is quieter now. The phone makes little noise, no more dialing. The fridge hums. No snow appears on the TV. I can’t remember the last time I heard baseball cards attached to the spokes of bicycle wheels. How about olly olly oxen free? Where did that go?

Where thou art – that – is Home.

June 6, 2016

Yesterday I chose to do little. I took a shower for the sake of cleanliness, but that was it for constructive. Today I go back to the old list and change my bed and do laundry then I’ll need a new list. I’m not all that enthused about doing anything so the new list will be short. Outside might just be the only item. I have chairs to clean and lights to fix, and being outside might make doing work a bit easier.

It’s noisy right now. I hear hammering and wood being piled. I suppose in the scheme of things they aren’t very loud, but this is generally a quiet place. Dogs do bark and kids do yell but that’s it. The bird songs tend to be the loudest.

Usually all three animals are here with me when taking their morning naps. The only one here now is Maddie and she is roaming. Fern is in the living room and Gracie is in her crate. I can hear her snoring. If I move around, Gracie sticks her head out to see where I’m going. She’ll follow me if it looks interesting enough. Gracie is never far from where I am.

When I went to Ghana, it was the first time I ever lived alone. It took time to be comfortable living alone because I couldn’t just pick up the phone and chat or drop over to visit. Here I was trying to adjust to a new culture and a new country so being lonely and homesick at the same time felt crushing. I had to figure ways to deal with it. I wrote letters, some of which were never sent. They were filled with my feelings, my sense of failure and my wondering if Ghana was right for me. I ached for letters from home and ran to the staff room to check my box at least twice a day. I also concentrated on figuring out how to speak English so I could be understood by my students. I gave myself until Christmas. Come to find out, that was more than enough time. I adjusted to speaking English slowly with an emphasis on letters like t in better or letter. My students were catching on as well. The more they heard, the more they understood. I started going to the market and shopping for food. It connected me to the town and the people. They stopped seeing me as simply the white lady. Now I was madam, the teacher at the training college. I used Hausa, the language Peace Corps had taught me. The Ghanians were delighted.

I began to feel I was home, a different home but still home. I stopped running to check the mail. Sometimes I ever forgot for a day or two. I read in the evenings or wrote letters about my day to day life. Every one of those got sent. I loved being in Ghana.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

March 10, 2012

Last night I set my alarm with plenty of time for a coffee run to Dunkin’s and a hunt for the best viewing for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. When the alarm rudely woke me up, I looked out the window, saw snow, turned off the alarm and promptly went back to sleep. It’s more than a dusting but not a whole lot more. It must have been wet snow at first as the walk, driveway and street have a layer of  slush which froze a bit. I couldn’t find my newspaper then I noticed it had slid all the way down the driveway and was a lump covered with snow. Right now it is 33° and winter. The rest of the week will be in the 50’s and spring.

The sun is desperately trying to come out right now, and the warmer air is melting the snow off the roof. I can see drops falling onto the deck. My dance card is empty today so I don’t really care about the weather.

There was no cryptogram in today’s Cape paper, and I was bummed. Being a creature of habit, it is one of my morning rituals. Solving it each day means I still have some reasoning power left which gives me comfort as my memory is spotty.

The sun has just appeared. It won the battle. I’d like to think I helped!

The snow has dampened any sound and kept people inside their houses. My neighborhood is quiet. Where I grew up had hundreds of kids or at least it always seemed that way. They were everywhere, and it was seldom quiet. That was in the day when families had lots of kids. You never wanted for a playmate or a friend. The little girls played house or dolls sitting on the back steps or on the grass while the boys played any noisy game they could concoct. We older kids roller skated, rode our bikes or walked around town. Saturdays, of course, found us at the matinée. We never seemed to run out of things to do.

My neighborhood has a lot of kids now. The family down the street just had their 4th, their first girl. At another house, they had their third, another boy, a few months back. The house next door has three but one is in high school. Their youngest is almost five. The only time I see any of these kids is when they’re on a walk with one parent or the other. Other than that, they’re in their yards playing. Long gone are the days of roaming or bike riding all over town. I still go to a Saturday matinée every now and then, but the best parts are gone. Nobody throws things like JuJu Beads and not a single couple makes out in the back rows. Where’s the fun gone?

“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

July 30, 2010

A cold front arrived today, a summer cold front. I felt it as soon as I walked on the deck. The day is dry and warm, no longer so hot that even sitting still makes you sweat. According to the paper, it will be 59° tonight. That boggles my mind. I’m thinking reading on the deck with a fire in the chiminea might be a wonderful way to spend the evening. Did I mention a drink in my hand?

Eat your vegetables. Wash your hands. Wipe your feet. Take your coat off the chair and hang it in the closet. Put your schoolbag away. Change into play clothes. Brush your teeth. Do your homework. Don’t sit so close to the TV or you’ll go blind. Leave your sisters alone. Don’t slam the door. Go outside and play. Don’t stand looking with the refrigerator door open. No cookies before dinner. Get your feet off the table. Get ready for bed.

My mother said those same things every day. Most time she’d add, “How many times to I have to tell you?”  I really wanted to answer her but never did. I would have been sent to my room until my early twenties. It wasn’t because I was a slow learner or had no short term memory. It was because I just didn’t listen. Every kid figures out at an early age how to ignore parents, especially their repetitive commands. We’d move back from the TV then move right back to where we were as soon as my mother left the room. The back door always slammed. Little sisters were to be picked on. It was a universal rule. If I didn’t stand looking into the refrigerator, how would I know what I wanted? What kid ever wants to get ready for bed? Vegetables?

My mother would yell, “Are you listening to me?” I’d nod or say yes despite having no idea what in the heck she’d said. I figured the truth, no, would have been a worse answer. It would have made my mother madder, and I’d have been accused of being a smart aleck, a wise ass when I got older.

That’s when I learned shading the truth is sometimes the response.

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