Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday's Words for May 12, 2010

Just before Mother’s Day, I picked my sister up from the city and brought her out to the countryside, to the community where we used to live as kids.

The first home I ever lived in was a tiny two-bedroom frame insulbrick house situated on about a half acre of land that abutted onto a limestone quarry. Yes, the same quarry my beloved slaves in today. When I turned seven, and a year before my father died, mom and dad bought the larger four-bedroom frame-and-stucco farm house next door. After moving us in, they fixed up the “little house”, and used it as an income property. My beloved and I rented it from my mother the second year we were married.

The larger house is the one I recall the best. This was the house I really grew up in, where I learned to garden and cut grass and shovel the driveway in winter. Where, after my mother passed away, I and my husband and our first born moved into and called home for ten years.

Both houses are gone now. Time marches on and things change, and there really is no going back. Of course the properties are still there. And so, too, are the two flowering crab apple trees we bought my mother just a couple of years before she died.

My sister likes to come out to the countryside every spring when the lilacs are in bloom. The side of the road holds many of these trees, and since they are on “county” land and not private property, those lilacs are yours for the cutting.
She lives in a tiny apartment with her husband of 20 years. Neither of them drive, and their building is in an old and crowded part of the city. But she, like myself, remains a country girl at heart. I bring her out a few times a year, and certainly as often as she wishes to venture away from home which, as she’s getting older, isn’t all that often anymore. For those afternoons I play the role of her chauffeur, and often we spend those drives visiting old haunts.

About four miles from where we grew up is a small creek, an off-shoot of Spencer Creek. I don’t know if this tiny water way has a real name, or not. None is posted that I have ever seen. Growing up, we called it Nichols Creek (we pronounced it ‘crick’). We called it that, because the farmer on whose land it partially ran was old Mr. Nichols, and on Saturdays and Sundays he would let you go swimming there, for five cents a head. The water was murky because of mud, but was otherwise clean. If you were going swimming, you took your towel, your bathing suit, and your salt shaker.

Sounds incredibly gross now, but as kids we had no qualms about swimming in the brown water and checking for leeches afterward.

Some places from our past we can’t visit. The pond across the road from where we lived, where we would catch tadpoles in the summer and skate on in the winter is gone. It dried up, and then the other quarry—yes, lucky us we had two in our neighbourhood—created an earthen berm where the pond used to be. The forest where we played, where we had forts made from natural little glades, the willow tree that grew it’s branches to the ground and on which we used to swing and play Tarzan…all these magical places have long since become the victims of progress. Fortunately, we have those memories, so those places do live on, in a way.

Mother’s Day is a day for family, yes. But of course for me, it’s also a time to remember not just my mother, but the me I used to be all those years ago.

I hope your Mother’s Day was filled with love and laughter, and memories both old and new.

Song of the Sirens 3: The Beauty
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