Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When you were small, what did you live?

When I was small, I lived:

In a ray of sunlight.  My dad worked second shift.  He would lay on the olive green couch and hold me on his chest, and teach me to sing "Row, Row Row Your Boat."   I felt his chest rise and fall with each breath.

On my mother's lap in a brown rocking chair.  She sang and read aloud to me.

I lived

On an acre of lush green grass that turned cold and brown, then deep, soft, crisp and white.  In the indigo sky were stars, a bright moon, and the fading clouds of warm exhales.

I lived

In a snowsuit and bread bags over socks stuffed into snowmobile boots with a metal zipper, in wet mittens and handmade crocheted hats.

With brothers who played the best survival games.

I lived

At a little school where everyone cared about me, except a few girls and boys who didn't understand my shy feelings of smallness, or my love of teachers.

Under a Cottonwood tree on a green woolen army blanket with a fat paperback copy of something good, like Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maude.

With a fluffy cat who purred.

And a little green lizard that roamed free and ate enormous crickets whole, leaving him paralyzed by gluttony.

On a tire swing which spun me dizzy.

In a vegetable garden with round, red tomatoes and fat ears of sweet corn.  Green beans, beets, cucumbers, cantaloupe, carrots, onions, radishes, baby red potatoes, strawberries, apples, peaches, rows of good things to keep weeded, to pick, to wash, to eat with salt, to can and freeze.  Food for neighbors, family, for my father who was a hungry child, and my mother who prepared most everything with a clean table cloth and beautiful dishes, with flowers or candles or a cake.

I lived

On weekend nights while grandparents visited, playing cards, laughing, eating bowls of unsalted potato chips and drinking glasses of beer.

Holiday parties with uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors, friends.

Crowded household, laughter, games.

Silent Sundays, when everyone slept, even the dog.  I was awake, lonely, bored.

School days and books and summer vacations in a cabin up north on a river, learning to water ski, roast marshmallows, catch fireflies.

I lived

Living memories.

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