The First Snow

The recent snowy siege and my distance from it, has me fondly recalling memories of frostier days. This chronicle of a winter day happened in middle childhood, in the days of fancy and wild imagination:

We were three sisters, bedecked in bonnets, long skirts, and shawls from our “dress up” stash. Armed with our own resourceful minds, we three “Civil War nurses” ambled through the field behind our home, weaving through the newly cut stalks of corn. As we discussed the political issues of our imagined day and age, we approached the end of the field and arrived at the grove of trees beyond. We crossed into the woods, were abruptly affronted by thundering gunfire, and concluded in a matter of seconds that we had meandered onto  a battlefield. Instantly, we vaulted behind a fallen tree and our chatter became deathly silenced. The gunshots continued, followed now and then by some shouts. “WHOOO! I hit another one of those bad girls!” shouted the voices. Slowly our play fear melted into real, irrational fear and the nurses were unable to uncouple fantasy from reality. I had alighted on the lap of our middle sister, and the longer we lingered, the more her legs grew numb adding to our terror of how we should depart this tragic situation of snipers aiming to shoot bad girls. After a moment of summoning bravery, our eldest sister breathed to us that our only hope would be to dart for the cornfield. Quietly she counted, “One, two, three!” We rose and sprinted with a speed of young gazelles escaping lion huntresses. So many years yet to live! We must make it out of the trees! We reached the cornfield and each stride that toted us away from the shooters pumped adrenaline and wild exhilaration into our blood. We would make it! Freedom! Life goes on! We collapsed in a pile of relieved laughter, meeting our neighbor boys in the back lawn. They viewed us with bewilderment. They could not understand the euphoria of a close call, the elation of liberation! Gently around us, soft fluff began to drift from the sky. Then, it represented the fresh slate of a newly valued life. Now, looking back, it represents the wonder of fantasy, how a men’s target practice in the trees could be converted into an antiquated battlefield and a precarious deliverance. It was the first snow of the year I turned eight.

 

My Sister

My Sister

We have spent many moments together since I was born. Her first day of school she cried because she had to leave me at home. She asked our mom if she could put me in her back pack and take me to school for show and tell. I don’t know if there was that much to tell about me, but this sentiment pretty much sums up our relationship ever since.

We lived on an old farm road that led to a small town in Western New York. I believe it was the most amazing place to grow up. We had miles to stretch out and grow. Our house was surrounded by cornfields that you could run through and feel the leaves of the corn plants slap your face. Behind the field was a wooded area cut in half by a trickling creek. Across that old road was a hill with a pond at the top, surrounded by more forest.

We used to put on barn boots and bright orange hunting jackets and go walking in the woods. We didn’t really say anything, we just walked.

On cool summer nights we would throw heavy sleeping bags on our backyard trampoline and fall asleep staring at the stars. I met Jesus when I was staring at that sky.

Our sleepy town was just south of Buffalo, NY. On blustery snowy days, we would build towering walls of snow, and slide down the short gorge beside the lake. When I first heard this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkxyT27xRH0  song, it lifted me back to each of these times with my sister.

As we grew older, we grew apart in some ways, but as she always tells me, “Life cycles. We will be back here again.” And this was true for us. After I graduated from college, I moved across the ocean. On my first visit back to our new family home in Sweet Southern Home Home Baby, Virginia, we began the great adventure of visiting every airport in the state. There are 66 airports in Virginia. We finished it three years later, and I must tell you more about it in another story.

Next, we gallivanted across the ocean together, where we learned to dance. We made great friends who we lived with, laughed with, and danced with.

We ate spicy papaya salad and drank sweet coffee. The stars in the sky looked brand new. Children captured our hearts. We saw sights seen by pirates, gypsies, and thieves. We were never any younger, or richer than then. Whenever I hear this  song (most of it) I fly to a time when I had five friends and my sister at arms reach.

Sweet Southern Home Home beckoned us and we returned to finish our airport program, begin our State Parks program, and to drink cheap limey drinks at a Mexican restaurant. We watched Seinfeld until we were funny by association. Our wild friends drew more youth out of us, as we lived on the edge: in the middle of a dark forest camp, on the moon on the earth, and at College football games. We took road trips to visit friends during New Years.  Our trips took us to New Orleans, Amarillo, Annapolis, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, New York City, and everywhere in between. We traveled far and wide but our favorite spot was a cozy little home that my sister bought, nestled in a row of tiny houses, with a long backyard which was perfect for late campfires and laying in hammocks. Up the road, that sweet James river was ready for an eight day, no shower, only pack what you can hold trip; or for a couple hour lazy float in that cheap canoe. We were regulars at a Vietnamese restaurant and  a greasy spoon diner. And we found the best coffee place in town. We became Southerners. We saw four seasons pass, three times before I moved across the ocean again. But whenever I hear this  song, I will remember our talks in which we could say anything and everything, our wanderings throughout anywhere and everywhere, and our days of nothingness on a lake with two paddles.

Now we head seemingly different directions, but never down two different paths. Change always makes me sad; I am the Queen of the land of Nostalgia. At the end of each of the above sagas, I felt the same: “How can I let go of this time? I will never be this happy again.” And always, time has proved to me that we must move forward, in the time that marches on, to get the gift of new times. Plus, I hear the voice of my sister, “Life cycles. We will be back here again.”

Tell Me a Story

I have always craved stories.

Since I learned to read, I could get lost in a book for hours at a time.

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A few things I love about stories:
In a story you can identify with a character discovering you are not alone. You can time travel through history, as well as experience the tastes, smells, and sights of a far away place. You can find a place to belong inside a story, and you can become someone new through the wisdom of words. Stories can evoke your raw human emotion because deep down we are all the same, the same fear, the same desire, the same evil, and the same love.

For all the reasons to love stories, I believe that the ultimate reason is that all stories contain some truth, some reality. Stories mirror the condition of our world, our souls, and grace. Stories are snapshots of pain and suffering, and also redemption and perfection. Stories contain the Hell and Heaven that is on earth and show us a peek at the reality of both beyond here.

This is the reason for my blog- to tell my stories (no matter how insignificant)- what I remember, what I have learned, who I have known, the real stories of my experience that I hope you can relate to, living in the time that just keeps marching on for all of us.

Life is one big long book and one big grand story, and I want to embrace that.