Looking back , and I mean waaaaay back, to my life as a child, I think there were always voices in my head telling me what direction my life should take. For years, like the rest of small beings, they were drowned out by the well meaning intentions of my parents and teachers, and later on by my own misdirected and hormonal voices that as a know- it- all teenager could have drowned out a jet engine.
Now, as a all-grown up adult, I can hear them loud and clear, and I as I think back I can see they what they were telling me when I wasn’t listening.
Ask any of my siblings (2 sisters and 1 brother) about their childhood and they will wax on about childhood friends, neighborhood kickball games, and the veritable zoo of pets that and any one time resided within our walls. My younger sister has a phenomanal memory of places and people and astounds me with her recall of events long forgotten by me 5 minutes after they happened.
If you were to ask me about my childhood home for instance, I will struggle to tell you what color it was ( maybe blue maybe green, maybe both although I don’t ever recall it getting painted), what the front steps looked like, or even they layout of the inside rooms. It is all very fuzzy and located in a place in my brain I apparantly do not have good access to.
But in full technicolor with oflactory back-up I can walk you around our yard. As you came down our dirt driveway the left side was bordered by a lilac hedge that belonged to the neighbor, and was glorious in the spring. The hedge was on the far side of their house, so picking was always an option. At the termination of the hedge, and now in our yard, was a giant horsechestnut tree. Those massive leaves, the incredilble inflorencence, followed by what every kid dreams of; free stuff from nature that can be used as weapons. The mace like seed pods of the chestnut provided many a colorful word when stepped on, and lots of battles pitching them at each other.Fun stuff indeed.
Straight on from there you were looking at the front of the house, where to the right loomed an easlily 100 foot pine that shaded the whole driveway. To the right of the pine was a little raised bed my Dad sometimes grew strawberries in.
To the left side of the house was another evergreen, probably a spruce as it’s branches remained all the way to the ground. In back of that was a skinny maple that was always ringed with pansies my Mother planted. To the left of the maple was an old cherry tree that my Dad (?) built a landing/treehouse in. The tree’s trunk separated into three parts only a few feet off the ground making it very easy to climb.The cherries were never edible, but as a loookout perch it was ideal.
In the “back” yard next to the white house with the very nasty dog, my Dad had enclosed an area with wire fencing and often grew vegetables (tomatoes, cukes, green beans, and oddly I recall rhubarb but can’t remeber if that is where it was planted).
Behind our clothesline, was the back end of our neighbor, Mr. Burke’s, property. His land was shaped like a very long rectangle, so although his house was further down almost on Main Street, his backyard was way back here abutting ours. In this peice of land that was un-tended to , grew all sorts of fun stuff including raspberries and blackberries we could pick and eat while standing there looking furtively about in case he was watching. At the edge of his land and separating us from another house was a large hedge that I would swear was privet, but I remember it being very tall, which may not be the case as I was little. We had carved out a little opening in the bottom so you could squish down and actually get into the hedge and hide.
If you went to the end of our road you would enter a wood, ownership unknown, where there were lots of trees to climb and trails to follow until you hit the railroad tracks, an area I think we were not supposed to be in.
All in all, I think our yard was pretty small, but it held such wonders for me. I remember raking leaves (fondly ,which I know is odd ) and making up many games in and around yard. I remember the earwigs that inhabited the veggie garden, and got on the laundry when it was hung on the clothes line to dry.
It is telling that my fondest memory is that skinny maple ringed by pansies, and I am guessing that the flower gardener in me was focusing on the one area in the yard that was adorned. There was also magically ( or so I thought) a perfectly true blue morning glory vine that appeared there eevry summer twinning up the tree and blooming that odd and mesmerizing color. This year I have purchased seeds, which I started indoors in May of that same vine, ipomoea violacea .I have done this in the past, with little success, usually by the time the vine gets big enough to flower the first frost hits the next day, and they are trash.