Childhood Memories

The night is not quiet as they sometimes say, all of my windows are open and I can hear the sound of the insects buzzing, chirping and vibrating.  It is music.  For some reason I am transported to Hillsdale.  I fly over the valley and to the house on the hill.  I find myself in the dark room with the high windows, worn white crocheted lady pillowcase under my head, a hudson bay wool blanket on the bed even in summer and the carefully folded down bedspread. The picture of Jesus with a palm behind it watching over me above the desk at the other end of the room. The lingering smells and memories of cigarettes, Yardley’s English Lavendar, coffee, Seagram’s 7, gingerale, Bugles, buttermilk pancakes, boiler piped heating and cooked venison fill my senses.  And as these smells return to me, so too does the smell of the tool shed up behind the house.  The ambrosia smell of who knows what, but so distinctive.  A smell I have discussed with my brother at length.  Hops oil, lemon oil and citronella, the distinctive smell of deer, some other smells we could not name.  Behind the house, acres and acres of meadowed farm land, mountains, woods, stone walls and a creek, shallow enough to play in, deep enough to make it real, and water so clear.  I sigh in the night as I recall all of this.  A place that for me is the perfection of childhood.

What place could offer such perfection for me now?  I can think of none, perhaps in my older persons way it is Clark Reservation.  But certainly I am not building dams and I don’t see flocks of turkeys, nor deer very often and there is no old abandoned garbage dump to pick through pulling up old pottery and glass bottles and bits of metal.  A future archaeologists dream.  And I am not being chased by mad cows as I scramble to get under the barbed wire where it passes over the creek.  In a Far Side cartoon kind of way I think that cow must have spent her whole life telling the story about how kicking up her heels and curving her tail up behind her she chased the human girl across the field.  Like my stories of the men I have dated in the last two years, keeping everyone in stitches as I recount the hilarity and farcical nature of the adventure, I see the cow telling her story of that day to all new calves.  I can see that cow in her old age, standing at a stanchion and turning to her best friend in the stanchion beside her and saying in a droll voice, remember that one evening when the grass tasted so sweet and that human girl walked into the field and I decided to have a go at her?  And the cow next to her starting to giggle.  She could not get under that barbed wire fast enough, and then she slipped in the creek and nearly took a dip.  And then she stood at the fence and stuck her tongue out at me!

This is one of my treasures.  That if I could box it and give it as a gift to God, like the small angel in the story The Littlest Angel, I would do so.  It is one of the grandest treasures I own.  More special than any shining bauble.



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