Sunday, January 28, 2018

Love comes in remembering

Focusing on Valentine's Day just around the corner, once again I turn to love. Nothing could be more worthy of my attention.

Yes, it was long ago that I was a child back that lane on Neff Road, but there are things that crop up from those years that almost catch me breathless. Little acts of love that I had forgotten or taken for granted. We sat at the table ready to eat. I usually sat by Dad. He would cut up my food (an act of love) and tuck the napkin into the neck of my shirt. Wow, I had forgotten about that tuck. My small frame dwarfed by the large piece of cloth placed there to keep me a bit neater, placed there by hands that loved me. Love comes in a piece of cloth.

Mom loved to make her pies saving the scraps for a very special reason. She squished the odds and ends together then rolled them out with her old rolling pin. She dusted the dough with sugar and cinnamon then rolled the dough tightly finally cutting the pieces into small rounds. After baking these to a soft brown, she gave the hot, little rolls to her children. We were at her elbows through the entire process. Sometimes she allowed us to complete the process on our own. I think she enjoyed seeing her daughters learn the beginnings of baking. She loved to give us sweets from her hands. Love comes from flour and a rolling pin.

Doris Lavy watched over me. She sat on the porch and watched for me from my earliest memories to the last when I came as an adult. Margaret Stager saw me in her house almost as much as she saw her own children. She was my other mom who scolded me as well as loved me. I never doubted these neighbor women's love for me. Love comes from the front porch.

Aunt Welma Johnson played cards with me, made cookies with me and allowed me to play beauty parlor as I combed her hair. She taught me what it was like to have the complete attention of an adult. Aunt Kate Loxley taught me about respect. She loved me with all her heart from the beginning until the end. Uncle Phil Barnhart took time with a little girl answering her questions and listening as no other adult ever did. Love comes in the interaction with adults.

I laid my head across the front seat, resting my head on Dad's lap and my feet on Mom's. (good way to get your head crushed) We often took to the road on a Sunday afternoon. Love comes in the touch of a hand.

My sister June was the other part of me from my childhood to now. She teased me and loved me by those very actions. Even though years parted us, our hearts grew closer together. Geneva Lavy Yoder held me when my father passed. She loves me like a sister and perhaps holds that other part of my heart. Love comes in the embrace of a sister.

A napkin tucked, a mother's purse filled with wonderment for a little girl wiggling on a church pew, a voice raised along with your own song, a mother's hands on a rolling pin covering those of her daughter, a few coins tied in the corner of a handkerchief, a large sugar cookie straight from the oven, a string and a Cat's Cradle, a licked finger wiping a bit of chocolate from a cheek, a large hand lifting some leaves to reveal baby bunnies, a hand reaching out to hold your own, all of those little things we knew but didn't understand as the ways of love. Love comes in quiet moments.

Little things do reflect love. Truly I believe they are the reasons we all try to stay in contact by mail, Facebook, all those ways of saying I love you. I remember. Pictures of the old neigborhood from Janet Rhoades, a letter in the mail from Janet Douglass filling me in on the family news, Cousin Patra Loxley Sengsy finding me after all these years, reconnecting with the Eliker kids, Linda Newbauer, friends from high school and relatives and friends after years and miles of separation. A column for the local paper and old friends. Love comes in remembering.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Beating of the human heart

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock....
tick-tock (dictionary.com) 
noun: A clock; also, by extension, the human heart

The sound of a clock ticking drew my attention to the TV. I was thrown back to another 'time'.  I landed in Pop and Mom Johnson's living room. The clock ticked and tocked throughout my childhood. A sound that was soothing, relaxing. A sound that was so familiar that I do nothing else but remember.

When I was a child, clocks were a part of the sounds in a household. They chimed, they tick tocked, they played music and sometimes they mesmerized a little girl as she watched the gold pendulum swing back and forth. Mantel clocks, pocket watches, huge wall clocks that hung in banks and other city buildings. In some homes, Cuckoo clocks announced the hour. Small figures danced around the bottom of those same clocks.

I remember walking into a jewelry store and hearing the clocks on the walls playing tick tock tunes so randomly that one could get lost in the chaos. Yet when the hour arrived, they played in unison. Some clocks were part of bronze sculptures, while others were merely clock faces with no adornments. 

Then came digital. Hm. The numbers glowed and the tick tocking ceased. The lovely wall clock was obsolete and the mantel clock became an antique. The grandfather clock seamed incongruous with modern interiors. Clocks were seen less in businesses, probably in hopes that customers would shop longer if not watching a clock. Indeed employees would work harder. Now the clock resides in our phones. More arms are free of watches and the tick tocks I listened to on Daddy's watch are now silent.

I have a mantle clock that doesn't work, but it reminds me of another time and of other people. The large key that opens it is a treasure in itself. It holds a history of other hands winding the gears, keeping time on time. An action that began the tick tocking for another day. An action that probably was accompanied by putting out the lights, checking the children and saying good night. 

For those of us who are older, we have memories of places and of people stirred by the sound of one of those old clocks. Today that ticking and tocking took me back to the farm on Yount Road. A trip home to visit my grandparents once more. A sound of a clock...and the beating of the human heart.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A noble cause

Standing sentry over my little domain, it gave its life and limbs. The noblest of nobility. The beauty of the holidays greeted me and held me wrapped in delight each time I looked at my lovely Christmas tree. Indeed it brought new life to my home.

Trees. They have indeed been a huge part of my life. With Dad and his family being true naturalist, at an early age, I learned to love trees. I embraced many a tree in Dad's company. His explanations of bark, leaf and bloom gave me the backstory on every type of tree on the farms on Neff Road and Byreley. Moss and lichen, toad stools and mushrooms, woodpecker holes and birds' nests were all part of my earliest education. Dad knew his trees, and I was the blessed recipient of his wisdom.

I never had a tree house. Oh, how I would have loved to play in one. A few curtains. An old fruit box. I believe I could even have fashioned a lift so my faithful dog could be part of the fun. Perhaps the tree house could have become a pirate ship. An old pipe from the brooder house would make a fine cannon. A bit of old tin would make a great wall. A couple of tobacco lath for swords, a red handkerchief, and a patch over one eye, and Captain No Beard would be on her way. Ah, the dreams of a little girl without a tree house.

We picked pears and apples off the trees. A bucket of apples fell out of a tree cracking my head open. I sat in the shade of the mulberry tree.  I played on hug rocks beneath trees and swung from a trapeze hanging from a tree. My horse about knocked my head off under a low limb. Lavy's had two trees that passed lightning from one to the other. An old tree rested comfortably for years in the creek bottom. A few initials were carved there. My dad carved he and mom's initials in a tree in the catalpa row. A tree had fallen over in the old pond where Dad said the bass were ever present. Dad chopped down trees to build the barn. I sat on many a teeter totter that was made with a board from a tree. Fire wood burned in our fireplace, in bonfires and in the tobacco strip shed. Trees enriched our lives.

Yes, it was time to take down the Christmas tree. The sweet noble hadn't dropped a needle and was as fresh as the day I got it. I said farewell to this sweet tree. I knew it was raised on a tree farm to be chopped down, yet it was sad to see it give its life for my delight. I was blessed to have this beautiful tree for a couple weeks. I celebrated the holiday as it looked on. Boy Scouts picked up my tree and had it ground up. Perhaps it will be return back to where its roots began. Good bye, dear noble. Your time with me was a noble cause.