Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Outside In

Wet laundry no longer hung on the line. Mom hung it instead on the clothes line in the basement. The clothing took a long time to dry with the basement feeling as damp as the fall weather outside. The season changed as did life back that lane on Neff Road.

From the days of playing outside, we now built forts and flew across the barn on the swing. It was not sunny and dry enough to play in the creek bottom, and it was too early to anticipate winter snow. An in-between time when life in the house changed. Dad was in the house more often or in the barn repairing equipment and storing tools. The old lawnmower was pushed to the back of the barn and the bushel baskets and rakes brought to the front.

The screens had been cleaned and stored. Feather beds aired and fluffed. "Did we sleep with the feather bed on top of us or on the bottom?" I asked June. The feather beds were old. I am pretty sure that our pillows and feather beds were part of Mom's dowry she brought with her when she married Dad.

"I think we might have had one on top and one on the bottom," she replied. The casing held the feathers of chickens long gone. The way they smelled and looked, I think perhaps they might have been passed down from my great grandmother to my grandma to my mom.

"They weren't down filled," June continued. Well, that was an understatement. I well remember the feathers with their poking spines jabbing at me when I rolled over at night. Still I loved it when Mom tossed the throw across our bed.

"Remember the flannel sheets?" June asked. How could I forget!? Sleeping next to my sister in a frigid upstairs bedroom far from the one radiator, we relished anything to keep us warm. I am seven years younger than my sister who, on more than hundred occasions, told me to move over. There was a bit of a problem with her request. I was a little tyke and she was a preteen. I automatically rolled to her side of the bed! Still in retrospect, I do not blame her. She was stuck with the baby of the family. Oh, yes, I remember the flannel sheets. I did not slide so easily to the other side of the bed when the leaves on the trees turned red and gold.

On our weekly trips to Greenville, Mom looked for 'entertainment' for her daughters. A new piece of sheet music. A new comic book. And, for me, an activity book. I loved the ones that had a sheer piece of velum between the pages. With a sharp pencil and a little less wiggling, I could be an artist copying the picture on the page beneath the sheer sheet. I could dot-to-dot and color to my hearts content. Puzzles came out of the closet and dress up was a daily activity. Summer was put away for a few months.

October seemed to change us all. We each had our own things to do. The kitchen saw more of us since we were drawn inside. Conversations were longer and relatives and neighbors showed up more often. It was a time of visiting. Coffee and pie. Stories from the past.

I stood looking at my big, fluffy comforter. Hm. Did not look nearly as exciting as that old feather bed. I missed the barn and the smell of fall that permeated it. I missed the neighbors who claimed me as their own my entire life. I threw a few damp clothes over the curtain rod and remembered the laundry in the basement. Fall. Ah, yes, I remember.

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