Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Simpler Time

I was driving home today, and I can't explain it, but it began when I watched a young black woman walking across the grass to her car. A little boy was following her and taking turns studying his feet as they moved and looking up to make sure he wasn't being left behind. She had a grocery sack, , possibly from one of the local grocery stores and it was full of something that looked like clothes, or perhaps something, else but clearly obvious that she was taking something somewhere.
I think the moment caught me and sent me back to a time when I had nothing to worry about except follow my Mama through the grocery store, or out to the clothes line to help her get the clothes in. I wish I could go back.
Things I remember about hot summer days:

Iced tea in tall glasses that sweated and left rings of water when you left them sitting somewhere , and how that sweated glass provided instant cooling when you ran it across your forehead or along your cheek.

Grasshoppers; They were fun to catch and we chased the poor creatures mercilessly. We all wondered if it was true and although we caught them with every intention of trying to find out, none of us were brave enough to follow through . The myth or the truth; a grasshopper will spit tobacco in your eye if you hold it near your face.
It seems a bit ridiculous  (okay, it seems a LOT ridiculous) to think a grasshopper would chew tobacco and hold a wad of it in it's mouth ready to aim and fire at some poor hapless kid who didn't know better. BUT... they did spit something into our hands... At least I hope it was spit...

The clothesline: I had two jobs - handing her the clothespins as she hung our clothes out to dry, and then after the clothes were dried I had the job of taking the clothespins that Mama handed me and putting them in the bucket. She made me fold the towels too, and the washcloths (we called them washrags, by the way). I loved the way the clothes smelled!!! There is no fabric softener out there today that smells as warm and clean as clothes that were washed in Tide and dried in the sunshine.  We lived fairly close to a marshy area so the mosquitoes ate our legs up.  Slapping skeeters and picking up clothespins...Have  you ever heard that the state bird of S.C is the mosquito? It's true.  Almost.

The clothesline was the perfect place to ask the "what if", "But why" and "Can we" questions... I wish I had known then how absolutely precious those moments with her were.

Dragonflies- aka 'helicopter bugs'. We chased them and they chased us and everyone was happy. They looked like green and blue jewels with diamond wings flitting across the backyard. It was as if we had been kissed by the lips of Mother Nature herself when, if you held still for a long enough time, one would actually land on your finger. If you were steady enough, you could actually walk around for a minute with one perched on the top of a forefinger.

Lady Bugs: lady bug, lady bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are all gone...  I have no idea where that little ditty came from or why it was deemed appropriate to sing that to a Lady Bug... They never believed us because they didn't immediately fly away. We used to catch them, and let them crawl all over us. At certain times of the year they were everywhere! We had Four 'O clocks and Lantana beside our house and they loved those plants. Little did we know that they were actually eating the aphids that also loved the plants. Who would've thought that such a cute little polka dotted bug with a sweet name was also a carnivore... The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the insect world.

Lizards: Oh my - we loved lizards!!!! The green one, the Carolina Anole (thanks Michelle for finding that out for me) was the most common. When they were on the side of my Daddy's workshop, they were brown. When they were near the grass they were green. When they were anywhere near where I could catch them, they were earrings. Often I could only find one. Sometimes I found two. Regardless, I wore a lizard earring anytime I could find them. They clamped right on my earlobe and didn't come off till they were pulled off. After about 15 minutes I was ready for them to come off. Those little jaws have some pinch pressure - don't be fooled. But they are harmless and won't hurt you.

China Berries - Fun to fight with... Round, soft, marble sized fruits made a significant sting when you fired them from a slingshot and we did. Years later some clever people boiled the skin and pulp away and made beautiful necklaces from the seeds.

And some people made helmets out of buckets...

This is me, and my sweet Mama, out in our backyard after we'd finished hanging out the clothes.

These were simple days and simple pleasures. We incorporated nature into our play, and were rewarded with stories to tell and memories to make blogs out of.
I want to go back there. When I die, don't bother praying for me to go to heaven. Let me go back to Dewey Hill, to play with the ghosts of my childhood.