Apr 2, 2007

Only 3 Weeks

And it's time for another dose of "I remember"...

When I was in elementary school, they were putting in phone poles up the road from us (yes, I did indeed grow up in the sticks) and my dad got ahold of one of those giant spools they put telephone wire on for stringing from pole to pole. He sanded and painted it up in whatever colors happened to be lying around in the basement and gave it to the three of us to play with. What a great outdoor toy. It was probably 4' in diameter. You could roll around the middle part, chase people with it, flop it on its side and stand on top. I remember that we used to get scolded for leaving it on its side because the lack of sun underneath would kill the grass. It was a great toy and I'd make one for Katie in a heartbeat if I could get one of those spools.

We lived in a really rural area - a small town in the fruit belt on Lake Ontario. We lived in a house that was 160 years old at the time and was the original farmhouse for the area. When I was very small, there were only 2 other houses that you could see from our house. On one side of the road was a sour cherry orchard and we lived amidst the apples. The orchard owner used to live in our house before moving into the cobblestone house just up the road to the northeast and let us pick all the apples and cherries we wanted. I remember sitting on the screened porch pitting sour cherries with an unfolded paperclip (you don't need those fancy cherry pitters!) knowing that cherry pie, jelly, or crisp would follow.

Our house had large lilacs on all four corners and a couple extra to spare. The old owner figured they'd been there for near on 100 years. The air smelled so lovely in the spring. (I'm allergic of course, so I was stuffy most spring but I love it anyway). When John and I moved into our house, the first things I planted were two tiny lilacs. My mother had beautiful flower beds of iris along the south edge of the yard, and ones around the house with annuals and the few tulips that managed to survive and peonies - the second thing I planted were two small peonies (that are no longer small). She also had some ferns and ivy from the house on Yorkshire Road (the house she'd done most of her growing up in once her peripatetic parents had settled down for a while). I had a piece of that ivy for a while but I'm not easy on potted plants.

At any rate, our house was surrounded by apple trees and there was one in particular we kids called the "pee pee tree". It was the subject of many a dare among us and our cohorts to sit on the extended branch about 5' up and pee. First, you have the balance issue - it's not exactly easy to balance with one's bahooty hanging over the branch or, for that matter, relax enough to pee! Then, of course, you have the "pee in public" issue. But, most of all, it was the "If Mom catches us, we are so beyond dead" factor that both made it incredibly difficult and a great dare at the same time.

Anne Shirley was right about her Snow Queen. Apple trees are wonderful - they're beautiful in bloom. I'm not talking about the dwarf trees that so many orchards plant now because they're easier to pick; these were the real deal. Probably 30' tall with branches cascading to the ground, creating a veil of privacy around the trunk - and ideal spot for hiding. By fall, the branches, once loaded with delicate white flowers, were loaded with greenings, tolman sweets, and cortlands - big apples in clusters just calling our names. But be careful of the poison ivy underneath and the worms inside. (Not nearly as gross as it sounds, honest!) My grandfather's wake was held out under those apple trees as was every one of our graduation parties. I'd always thought my wedding reception would be there but, by the time I was married, my parents had moved out of state when my dad was laid off. Thus, my "apple blossom time" never came and my wedding reception was at a hotel in Massachusetts.

As I grew, the road grew in population. First, there was the house on the corner of Lincoln and Whitney but that was ok, the people are wonderful and are very, very dear to us. Then there was a house across the street and then one next to that. By middle school, we didn't have easy access to the cherries anymore but we made do - the neighbors let us cut through their yards. When I saw Lincoln Road last year, it's pretty well filled up from stem to stern. Whitney Road was paved when I was in middle school, I think. Or part of it was at least. It's not the place I remember but I suppose there are many people who would say that.

It has been hard for this girl from a cow town (yes, it really was - we had several dairies in addition to the fruit) to adjust to life in suburbia. But my emotional journey from nowheresville to wethinkweresomethingsville is another post altogether.

Still to come... travels with the family, girl scouts, music, the 9th grade banquet, the hilarity of vice grips (honestly, they are *very* funny).

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Blogger Jade said...

I'm dying to hear about the vice grips :)

Oh... Anne Shirley (with an E!) I haven't thought of her in years!

2:41 AM  
Blogger smileymamaT said...

Ah, the bittersweet apple trees....I have 2 in my yard now, we had fig trees as a kid on the beach. And you know what? We had a big spool! I never ever knew where it had come from, just POOF one day we had one! And it wasn't painted, all brown and we got splinters, but we rolled on it, played on it, balanced, spent hours on it! How funny!

6:40 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

You have recounted some truly sweet memories including the sweet scent of lilacs and peonies. The memories of your pee-pee tree make me laugh, and I see that you are actually talking about pee-pee. Happy 40th.

I always wanted to be married in white dotted swiss and blue satin shoes, but that did not work out for our wedding day in Indiana on December 26th.

7:07 PM  

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