It is cold, dark and still-and not yet dawn, as I write this. If there is another soul awake, in this small town, they are quiet too, for the place is silent. Winter mornings are like that. They are born like a lavender whisper. Even the early birds wait for the light, to sing.
A lot happened last week. I had major dental surgery on Friday. I had put it off, til I couldn’t. Mama said “do it” and so I did. Sisters Connie and Delores-and niece Dana came to help out. Connie drove us to the facility and tended to the business, as she is well versed in that area. Delores and Dana met us there, prepared to stay the weekend. The office staff was quite amused that I had such a crowd with me. I guess it was a bit funny, but for me, I was one glad chicken!
I will spare you the details, just know I am on a liquid diet until further notice. I did not work all week and had time for reflection on the event. I thought of all the support and assistance my family offered. They were all at my beckon call. Dana listened to me recite the alphabet, for my speech was affected. All was good until I got to “Q”. Dana encouraged me to keep trying, when suddenly I thought aloud . . .”When will I ever have to say “Q”? We all laughed at that.
A few days later, I was painting roses, then a dresser and then going through a few boxes of still stored items. I found a journal that Christian kept at a very young age. . .he has always kept a journal. It was entitled “A Christmas Story”. He wrote about Kyle, who was around nine at the time. Kyle had been hired to clean a neighbors’ yard and invited Christian to help him. Christian, around five years old, had declined. The next day, Kyle had a gift for every one of us. Christian was impressed for he concluded his entry with . . .”He (Kyle) didn’t buy anything for himself.” I did not miss the significance nor the beauty of this.
I still have a dozen more boxes to go through, for a storage closet will soon grace the hall of the humble cottage on Bonnet street.. Mostly, for such collections as Christian’s journals, and other keepsakes to be stored in.
Winter has always been a good time for such projects-and since I always seem to end up in an old house, it is especially true. Now, when I was a kid, this wasn’t so true.
Winter was a time to ramble in the woods. Every child in the community was a cousin, one way or another. it mattered little to any of us whether we were first, second, third or fourth-we were cousins. We banded together and took to the woods for hours.
We knew every acre thoroughly. There was always a dog with us-and a pony or two. We were not allowed to traipse the woods in the summer because of snakes, poison ivy, ticks and red bugs-but after the frost, the woods were our playground. We had all sorts of landmarks. There was an old warrior tree that had fallen . We always stopped there. There was an abandoned house, an old school bus and several ponds. The largest oak, that I have ever seen grew in one patch of the wild woods. . . We always knew where we were. We kept up with time by the sun and somehow, we always made it home by supper.
On rainy stretches, we took to the barns. Every one had a barn, in those days. Big, two story barns . . and the ponies were welcome to come in too. Those barns became forts or homes, depending on our whims.
One barn looked as if a good wind could surely topple it, I thought. I was wary of that barn-but the thing just fell down, a few years back. Another barn was owned by a family with a nervous mother. She sounded an alarm about every fifteen minutes, that somebody was going to break their neck or need stitches or some other calamity was nigh. Honestly, all sorts of things were possible, but none of it ever happened.
The best barn to me, was Pop and Grandmamas’ barn. It was sturdy and tidy. There was an old Victrola and benches, and chairs-oh what a good place for the dolls to grow up! When I hear the expression “raised in a barn” well, I laugh because I was and do not have a single regret.
In their earliest years, my own children enjoyed that same sort of liberty. They spent winters in the woods, with a dog and a lamb-and a pony. Often, I accompanied them, but not always. We carried books. picnics and sometimes a kite, for there were many fields resting, in winter. My grandmother wandered with us sometimes. At seventy five years old, she went over a fence to stand beneath that big oak tree, that I mentioned earlier.
To me nature has a sermon-quiet spoken words, heard by the heart. Nature is authentic beauty that provokes my gratitude. It never fails to validate my faith and it does not fail to spark wonder.
I strongly prefer wild places, where I am surrounded by truth. . . and where things make sense. Thank Goodness, that nature is not easily swayed by “band wagons” but instead goes about its’ own business . . .which, we all depend on.
I am no longer living on the edge of woods and, so I console myself that the sky above me is a wild place. A garden, also is a wild place-even flower beds-and even potted geraniums. These things will keep me tethered to nature, my beloved friend.