Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Do I Remember These Things?

It is another rain drenched morning here.  The April showers have spilled over in to mid-May, and some days I despair of ever having more than 3 days running of sunshine, pleasant temps and no wind out of the northeast.  This year it seems to be two or three nice days and about seven that are cruel to those of us longing for spring planting and dreaming. We now have those early mornings and long days, we wait for in February, but it seems I can hardly enjoy them.  If nothing else, those of us who have endured, know patience, and know that it will change at some point, and we will likely complain about all the heat long about August.

In my house bound musings I was wondering why, I can remember the most insignifcant memory, crystal clear, after all these years, and other precious memories have slipped away.  Viewing them is like looking in lake water.  The image is there, at the bottom, but it has a shifting, transluscent feel.  The harder you look, the more it slips from your grasp.  I can remember lying in the sun warmed grass of my childhood yard, and staring up at puffy clouds, drifting across the sky, feeling perfectly content and having no notion of anything but watching those clouds and thinking my time watching them was endless.  I can remember three little girls standing inside the huge emptiness of our Harvestore silo and singing, "Guantenamero", at the top of our lungs because we liked the echo.  I can remember going to Crystal Lake and the peppermint fields on the way, how we always looked for them, and the first sighting of the lake with the old pavillion still in view.  Stu's Beach would come later with all the promised fun of a Sunday afternoon, swimming, and playing with friends.

I can remember going to the tobaggan run with my grandparents, walking up the long hill, the tobaggan set up on rollers at the top, while we mounted it, sitting front to back, our legs wrapped around the person ahead of us, one long human snake, on that tobaggan, shivering with anticipation and fear before we were shoved down that long chute, at dizzying speeds and sometimes making it to the end of the run, and sometimes spilling out like scattered bowling pins, one person losing grip and the others being moved by the next, a domino affect.  This was always at the bottom of the hill, and we would skid on our backs or behinds, covered in the snow at the bottom, and laugh just as hard as if we had made it to the end and a safe stop. 

I remember the wonderful taste of a 7-up float on a hot summer night.  I've never liked 7-up or vanila ice cream alone, before or since, but put the two together, and it was heavenly, at least in my remembering.  I remember june bugs on warm summer nights, I remembering their scary noise as they flew against the screens, trying to get to the lights inside.  I do not remember ligtning bugs however, those fireflies that I wait for now, as a cap to warm summer evenings in June and July.  I see them now, by the thousands, but remember only a handfull of times seeing them in my childhood.  I remember fresh rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and huckleberries, and how we ate them with every meal while in season.  I grew so weary of them, but my dad could eat them all the time and never seemed to tire of the taste.  Today, I wait with mouth watering for the first strawberries.  The first rhubarb pie and the first juicy peach I can pick from my own tree.

And I remember the Saginaw Fair and how we waited for weeks for it to arrive in early September.  I remember getting off of school for Fair day and the sights and unusual food aromas combined with the all the barn odors and the smell of exhaust fumes when the track was being used by hotrods for racing.  I remember the rides and how many would could go on before we got sick, a feeling I had one time, and never wanted to experience again.  We would dare each other for the ferris wheel, and then squeal in fright and delight when the baskets would climb slowly to the top of the wheel, only to plunge over the edge and our stomachs along with it.  We marveled and respected the huge draft horses in the barns, with rumps so large and legs so massive, a stall couldn't contain them and we made a wide berth around them.  Corraled, fat and snoring hogs, and bleating sheep were in the animal barns.  The vendor buildings were the nirvana of "free stuff", and we ended our Fair day, bogged down with bags of junk and bellies full of our favorite Midway delights, crisp french fries with vinegar and tart ketchup, sugary sweet elephant ears, squares of vanila ice cream, dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed peanuts on a cone.  Bratwurst on a bun, barbequed chicken, and even bean soup, it was all part of the Fair, and probably the best part to a kid who had no concept of fast food.  Why do I even all these years later still smell the smells and hear the carnival music?

I am making a quilt for my grandbaby.  My daughter in law asked me to make a crib quilt for her.  When I settled on a pattern, (Tumbling Blocks, which of course I had never tried before), I waited for her to give me some color cues.  When we talked about the colors of the large area rug that would anchor the room, browns with pinks, fuschias and touches of blues and greens, I had my answer.  To the fabric store I went and was overjoyed to find so many fabrics that combined browns and pinks.  The only problem was to narrow my choices.  I selected and grouped the choices into light, mediums and darks.  I had 4 groups of these color combinations.  It wasn't until I was sewing the combinations did the "remembering" hit me again.

My mother had picked a brown backed wallpaper with large pink roses for my room when we first moved to my grandparent's farm.  Redoing my room which I would share with my baby sister at some point was her first project.  I remember sleeping in a double bed, (their old bed, upon moving they got a new bedroom set), full of sawdust from my dad designing and cutting an intricate wood soffit and shelves to frame the window wall in the room. Only one wall was papered with the rose flowering wallpaper, the rest of the walls were painted a pink to match the roses.  My mom also made a bed spread cover out of a brown fabric that matched the brown in the wallpaper's background, and more importantly to her, wouldn't show dirt for a good long time.  I didn't pick the wallpaper and I didn't hang it.  As I grew older, I disliked the colors as I was never a "brown' kind of person, or so I wanted to believe.  When I was old enough to request a room redo, I chose yellow for my bedroom.  A sunny yellow check with yellow spreads on the now twin beds, my sister and I received. 

When I was old enough for 4-H, my first sewing project was a skirt.   My mom picked out the fabric for my first sewing project, and you guessed it, my skirt was to be brown with a border of dark pink, green and blue flowers, and a scattering of those flowers spread across the fabric.  I was not overwhelmed by that fabric, and because I was not overly enamored with sewing at all, (I figured I had a built in clothes maker in my mom, so why should I sew), the whole making of and later modeling the skirt at the 4-H Achievement Night left me less than enthused.  When I had my first taste of modeling and saw how out of place my skirt looked, I may right then have created a lifelong dislike for sewing.  While A-line skirts and madras plaids were all the style, I was wearing a dirdnl skirt like something out of the movie, "Heidi".  It was not one of my fondest memories, and why do I remember it after all these years?   Though the personal, sewing bug never lit in me, I did develop a love of machine piecing in quilting many years later.  I never thought I liked math in high school, though Lord knows, I took enough of it, but I did like geometry, and loved the geometric lines and squares of traditional quilting.  While quilting has ebbed and flowed for me and has never become more than an enjoyment, it has stayed with me.  And when the crib quilt request came, I jumped in enthusiastically, thinking how long it had been since I had done this.  As I laid the pieces out on a white sheet to get placement, it hit me.  The colors of browns and pinks.  Mom did know best and was just ahead of her time with the browns, (which are now the new black), and my deep affection always, of pinks.  Funny how that worked out and funny how I remembered. 

Too many of my best memories are no more than a blur in my mind, making me sad that they went by so quickly and were shuffled through for the next memories.  Bits and pieces of my most precious times, my children's growing up are forever gone....or maybe it will just take bits of brown and pink material to float them back to me....

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