Posted tagged ‘Swamp’

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”. . . “It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine . . .”

April 8, 2017

Today is another beautiful spring day with lots of sunshine. It is cooler than yesterday but not by much. I was out with Gracie for a while. She had a tough morning. The inside stairs were too slippery so I grabbed and held on until she got her footing on a mat I had moved from one step to another. That worked so I’m hoping the other mats arrive so she can feel safe going down all the steps.

My street is quiet. Earlier I could hear machine noises. When I went to get the papers, I noticed the trucks. My neighbors are having their yards cleared. That screams spring to me.

When I was a kid, I loved the woods and the field below my house. The field was a square surrounded by woods on three sides. One wooded side led to the swamp. We’d follow a path which started where the field ended, and the swamp was just a short way. Another path led to the right and the water tower. The third side was just woods. In winter the field was brown. No grasshoppers jumped when we walked through the dead grass. That was summer. In winter the field was just a route to the swamp.

That field, those woods and the swamp are gone. Brick buildings with apartments for the elderly have taken their place. My grandmother lived in one building where the woods with no path once stood. We buried our turtle in those woods, under two trees we knew we’d remember. We never thought all of it would be gone. I used to think about that turtle when I’d go with my father to visit my grandmother. The entrance to my grandmother’s street was about where I’d buried my turtle expecting it would rest under those two trees for eternity. Even the trees are gone.

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”

March 3, 2017

Winter dropped by last night to remind us not to get giddy about spring. It will have to be patient, to wait its turn. I saw daffodil buds yesterday in my garden. They are still all green but soon enough they’ll flower. I figure winter is beginning to feel rushed.

The swamp around now would still have ice as the water wasn’t very deep. The remaining ice was mostly in the back on the shaded channels which ran between trees and what we called islands. We’d go as far back as we could. In some places we’d walk on the ice and stoop under the trees while in other places we’d have to go on all fours. We explored in the summer too but then we risked getting wet as we had to jump from island to island.

When I was a kid, we were explorers. We walked or rode our bikes all over town. We had favorite places like the field where the two horses grazed, the tracks which both ended and kept going, the zoo, and the dairy farm. I never got tired of trying the catch the horses, but I’m glad I didn’t. I watched the cows.

Growing up when I did was a gift beyond measure. It meant summers of riding my bike, walking all over town or sleeping outside. We were never afraid. Our mothers had taught us to refuse anything a stranger offered so they figured we were safe enough. They were right. I don’t even remember any strangers.

The first time I went to the movie theater at night was an event. I was 10. The movie was a fund-raiser for my girl scout troop. I remember walking around wearing my uniform and feeling important. My parents bought tickets as did most of the other parents. I don’t even remember what the movie was. I just remember feeling older as if I’d just passed a milestone.

Today is cold, 34˚. It is a sunny day which belies the cold. Tonight the low will be 17˚.

“What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.

January 17, 2017

We’ve lost the sun. It’s a gray day with no wind. Rain will be here tomorrow. You’ll hear no complaints from me. It isn’t snow.

When I was a kid, I loved winter. I sledded and went ice skating at the town rink and at the swamp. I built snow forts in the tall piles left on the sides of the road by the plows. My friends and I had snowball fights. We’d build a short wall in front of us and across from each other then start making ammo, snowballs. When both sides had enough made, the fight began. I don’t think there was ever a clear winner. We’d finish the day so soaked and frozen that even the shoes inside our boots were filled with snow. My mother would sometimes make us cocoa with Marshmallow Fluff on top. I remember watching the Fluff spread from the heat of the cocoa. When I drank the cocoa, I always had a Fluff mustache.

At some time in my life, winter got boring. I started dreading snow. I hated scraping the ice off my windshield and driving to and from work in the dark. I admit snow is pretty especially right after a heavy snow storm when the tree branches and streets are covered. I do like watching the snow fall. I turn on the backdoor light so I can see the flakes, delicate and lacy. When I was a kid, there was a streetlight right near my house. Even back then I loved watching the flakes under the light.

I never knew the temperature when I was young. In my mind it was winter and winter was supposed to be cold. Now I asked Alexa the day’s weather and watch the news. I want to know what to expect. I’m happy when I hear 44˚ and groan when it is in the 20’s or even lower. I stay inside on the especially cold days.

I don’t think I’ll ever reconcile myself to winter. It had its time when I was young. Now  I accept summer as the season for we who are growing old.

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”

April 15, 2016

The day is windy and cold but still lovely with lots of sun and a blue sky that even Crayola can’t duplicate. I really have nothing to do today. I spent the morning playing around with my MAC which was a bit feisty. I couldn’t use it until I solved the problem. I seem to be getting much better at healing my MAC.

When I was a kid, today was a big day because at the end of school April vacation started. We had the whole next week off. I don’t remember if the week was warm or not. I just remember my bike was out of the cellar, and we were all over town. We didn’t have a specific destination. We just rode. I remember we went to the zoo a couple of times and through parts of town we didn’t know well. Sometimes we brought our lunches while other times we went home for lunch and a bathroom break though we didn’t really need an inside bathroom. One of my favorite rides was to the farm. The cows were always out in the field and we’d watch a long while. I have a couple of milk bottles from that farm. It is still there, but it sells sod and fertilizer and stuff like that. The cows are long gone.

We’d ride to the next town and around its lake. It was to us a huge lake, and we loved that it was right in the middle of a town. Sometimes on our rides we’d end up where we started while other times we’d only go about halfway around, leave the lake and end up in a different town. That town also bordered my town but on the other side. It was a boring town but it did have a great diner. When I was older and visiting for the weekend, my father would sometimes take my mother and me out for breakfast there. I still love diners. I also still love going out for breakfast.

Every day we did something. Five days away from school were never to be wasted. I don’t remember a whole lot of walking, but I figure we must have gone into the woods and walked to the swamp. We kept careful watch on the seasons at the swamp. We knew when it was warm enough the tadpoles would be there darting away from our fingers. I remember the sun shining on that swamp and warming my back when I was lying down on the grass beside where the tadpoles were. That swamp was one of the neatest places I have ever known.

“When we lose these woods, we lose our soul. Not simply as individuals, but as a people.”

July 29, 2014

The humidity is gone and has left behind a wonderful summer day. I have no plans for today except to do a few things around the house. The errand or two I have I’ll save for tomorrow. I love these quiet mornings when all I can hear are the sweet songs of birds.

When I was a kid, I noticed bugs more than I noticed birds. Grasshoppers were one of my favorites. I loved watching them leap into the air as I walked through the field. In my mind’s eye I can still see it all. The houses were clustered around a small roundabout in a cul-de-sac. A path led from the street behind the houses to the field which stretched across from one group of trees to another. On one side of the field the trees were beside the road while on the other side the trees were thicker and we thought of them as the woods. The boundary of the field was an old tree trunk with one branch still attached and lying on the ground like an extended arm. We never went around the branch. We always climbed over though there was a path which went right around the old tree. Beyond the tree were a few other paths. One led up a grassy hill with blueberry bushes all along the side. The hill led to the water tower at the top. Another path from the tree went straight ahead to the swamp and continued to a street where the path ended. I always thought of that path as a shortcut to my friend who lived on that street. We played in the woods, hunted grasshoppers in the field, watch polliwogs grow into frogs at the swamp and ate our fill of blueberries. We’d race each other up the hill to the water tower. The winner was king of the hill, at least for that day. We could be gone the whole day and still be close to home.

When the town decided to build elderly housing, they took down all the trees and bulldozed the field. Even the swamp was gone. We were devastated.

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

April 25, 2014

The red spawn of Satan is driving me mad. I am Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight. I swear the spawn sits and stares at me then blatantly jumps onto the feeder with a swish of its tail. Today I am super- soaker shopping.

Around where I lived when I was a kid, there were woods, the all-season swamp, blueberry bushes and a huge field filled in the summer with grasshoppers by day and fireflies by night. On one exploration we, my brother and I, found a small box-like shack in the side woods. It was made up of odd boards and must have been newly constructed or we’d have seen it before then. When we looked inside, we saw magazines, girly magazines as we used to call them. We left them there and high-tailed it out of the shack. Later, when I was older, I figured the shack probably belonged to some teenage boys who were hiding the magazines, but I never saw anyone there. I never went back inside. I think I was afraid.

Some things stay with you. I remember the sound of the roller skates on the street and the different sound they made on the black top. I also remember how odd my feet felt once I’d stopped roller skating. They sort of tingled on the bottoms. It was different with ice skating. The sides of my feet hurt and walking felt strange. Downhill on a bike was the best feeling of all. It was speed, and I loved it when the wind whipped my hair. I never used the pedals. I let the incline do the work. While walking home from school in the rain, we’d stomp a big puddle over and over and watch the water fly. The puddle would get smaller and smaller until almost no water was left. We got soaked. My shoes were so squishy bubbles broke through at the laces. Once we got inside the house, my mother right away made us take our shoes off.

Every late afternoon we sat and watched television. We sat on the floor close to the set. My mother was always in the kitchen making dinner. My father wouldn’t be home until later. He’d come in the door wearing his topcoat and his fedora. He’d put the fedora on the top shelf of the closet by the door and he’d hang up his topcoat. He always wore a suit underneath.

When I was a kid, my life was filled with constants. They made me feel safe and comfortable.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”

March 24, 2013

What a bright, sunny day it is with the bluest of skies. Though still a bit chilly, only in the high 30’s, the sun makes it feel much warmer. The breeze is slight and only gently rocks the branches. The snow is just about gone. Today must be an apology of sorts from Mother Nature for the grayness of the past week.

This morning I watched a spawn of Satan be thwarted by my bird feeders. It tried all three sunflower feeders but got nothing except frustration. Its paw jabbed and jabbed inside the wires and still came back empty. Take that, you spawn of Satan!

I have high hopes. My back is getting better, my outlook on life is rosier, Easter is next week and baseball starts April 1st. Life is good.

When I was a little kid, small things gave me joy. Blowing puffy dandelions into the wind, catching fireflies, picking and eating blueberries or watching pollywogs at the swamp were the best ways to spend part of a summer day. Getting dirty while doing it was a bonus. I’d lie on my stomach and look into the water at the edge of the swamp because that’s where the pollywogs first appeared. We’d go and see them every couple of days and watch them grow. They were the tiniest black specks at first darting so quickly I could almost miss them but then came the arms and legs, and they were easy to see. When they were full-grown, they just disappeared, moved on to somewhere else in the swamp, probably in the back among the trees and bushes where we seldom went.

That swamp was my favorite of all places when I was young. It had a wide open area in the front where we watched the pollywogs in spring and where we’d ice skate in the winter. Small channels on both sides led away from the wide front. In the summer these channels were bordered by overgrown bushes and trees growing on what we thought of as islands. Exploring into the swamp meant jumping from island to island, getting scratched by the briers and getting wet feet if you weren’t careful, but at least once every summer we’d explore as far as we could. In the winter it was easy. The channels froze and the trees and bushes were bare. We walk and follow the channels as far as they went holding on to limps to keep from slipping and falling. We’d get on our hands and knees to look into the ice. It was like looking at a tiny world. The ice was so clear we could see all the dead leaves, the vines and the limbs of trees which had dipped into the water and been frozen. I can still see it all in my mind’s eye. I thought it was beautiful.

“Frogs have it easy, they can eat what bugs them”

May 19, 2012

I just came back from the Sampson Fund plant sale which benefits animals. Naturally I spend a bit of money mostly on tomato plants and herbs though I did buy a round clay pot filled with succulents and decorated around the plants with seashells. That was the one piece which set me back a bit. Later I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs-maybe even tomorrow as carrying the plants to the car killed my back. I am now a question mark but the question remains elusive.

My car is green, well not really but it is covered in pine pollen. My world has turned green, a yellow-green, making me feel like an extra in Solyent Green and my turn is coming. This is the time of year I have to keep all the windows shut so I’m hoping for cool days or lots of rain. My deck is like a crime scene. After you sit down then get up, there is an imprint of your body left on the chair.

The day really is pretty. The new leaves shine brightly in the sun and there is a bit of a breeze. It is 63° which is about right for this time of year here. Gracie will be out most of the day, and I suspect she’ll nap in the sun in the grass at the back of the yard.

I remember being gone all day on a Saturday like today. We’d pack a lunch and take off and roam the town. Sometimes we’d go to the zoo while other times we’d Huck Finn it on the raft at the pond. The swamp was always filled with polliwogs and party grown frogs this time of year, and they were a big draw. That swamp was one of my favorite places. Being there always seemed to touch the magical just a bit. It had everything: a large front area for skating in the winter and for watching the changes in the polliwogs in the spring. It had small islands you could hop from one to another to go way back where the swamp ended. I remember watching the sewing needle bugs flitting across the top of the water. There seemed to be hundreds of them with their bright green wings. I didn’t know until we were all much older that my sisters were afraid their lips would get sewn shut by the bugs. I wish I’d back then. I’d have had a field day teasing the two of them.


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