Monday, July 27, 2020

Frankly My Dear

When I learned of the death of actress Olivia de Havilland, my thoughts went back to a summer of long ago. My cousin and I were still hanging out in our chicken coop clubhouse, surrounded by the books, chalkboards and desks from an abandoned one-room schoolhouse up the road. Besides 'teaching' our younger siblings, we taught pretend students as well. And if we weren't teaching, we were putting on art shows, circuses, carnivals-whatever we thought the adults would 'love' to attend. After all, our shows were Free, and Tremendous.

Sometimes we'd bring books to read if we had the chance. Our grandmother had given us the Laura Ingalls Wilder books one Christmas. We read them all. Other favorites were the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew Mysteries. But during that particular summer, I went to my mother's bookcase and pulled out a paperback she'd raved about titled, "Gone With The Wind."

My mother was an avid reader. She worked evenings at the local hospital as Charge Nurse in the ER. She'd always put a book in her bag of stuff before going to work. Some nights she'd find time to read. Most nights I'm sure there was no time. Her favorite books were of the South in the era of plantations and beautiful women in big, beautiful, puffy gowns with matching hats and jewelry. The shelves of her bookcase were lined with those types of books. I'd neve heard her talking about any of them like she did "Gone With The Wind" so I pulled that book off the shelf and took it with me to our chicken coop clubhouse. The minute I started to read it, I fell in love with the story, especially Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. It took me all summer to read the book. I was quite proud of myself for reading a book that was over 1,000 pages long. My mother was surprised. I wasn't. I was hooked from the beginning. "Frankly my dear" was a perfect closer.

When my mother passed away I was given most of her books. They now sit on shelves in my living room. Sometimes I'll pull a few of those books out just to look at the covers and once in a while when I do that, I remember my mother sitting in a chair by a window in the dining room with her hair done up in bobby pins, reading before getting ready for work. Now that I think about that she was probably gearing up for the transition from mother to nurse.

For some reason, "Gone With The Wind" was not included in the books I was given. I have no clue where it went. But that's okay. I will never forget that story just like I will never forget my mother sitting in that chair by a window in the dining room with her hair up in bobby pins, reading before getting ready for work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Magic of Fields

There’s something magical about fields. It doesn’t matter the time of year. Fields amaze me whatever the season. This fascination began at an early age. I remember playing with my cousins as we watched for our grandfather to return from haying in the backfield. Once he drove his little red Ford tractor back over the plank bridge spanning the creek on his way to the barn, we’d run and jump on board the wagon full of hay. Fields surrounded us on both sides of the road.
When I was 8 or 9, we moved to the country, next door to my grandparents’ farm. Despite the farm not being a working farm anymore, the fields provided hours of play for me, my siblings and my cousins. They were great places to play hide ‘n seek. Fun places to pick wildflowers and clovers that were sweet tasting. Fun places to play ‘pretend’, making pretend houses by stepping down on the tall grass. Fun places to escape the adults. Fun places to walk through in the snow, stopping to make snow angels and snowmen and snowballs for throwing.
I remember sitting at my desk in my bedroom, looking out the window at the fields stretching to the back woods. When the sun would set through the trees, the fields would often be streaked with color. When it snowed, the fields glistened. After a rain shower, the fields with their weeds and wildflowers and brush and hay grew all the more. After a storm, the fields became disheveled. Even some trees might have fallen. But Mother Nature stepped in. Mother Nature was its caretaker.
When autumn came back around, Mother Nature meticulously painted the weeds and wildflowers and brush and leaves in splendid shades of orange and red and yellow. The fields took my breath away.
Fields still take my breath away. I’m still surrounded by fields. Although they are different fields, they too have their weeds and wildflowers and brush and trees. Mother Nature is their caretaker and I am a grateful onlooker —no matter the season.