The horns honked every Saturday, sometimes driving around the block right by my house. Wedding couples waved from the back seat, with streamers and tin cans sailing in their wake.
The church stood at the entrance of our neighborhood, as much a playground for us children as it was a place of worship. Baptisms, funerals, and all forms of life events in between took place beneath its roof. And on Saturdays, the expected cachaphony of honking horns was as common as the chirping of birds.
Many wedding traditions have their roots in superstition, and the making of noise is one of them. It was thought that the loud clanging of cans trailing behind a carriage and even church bells would scare evil spirits away from the newlyweds. Eventually, the practice became an expression of celebration.
These days limousines are more common than tin cans hanging from the bumper, and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the honking horns. My guess is that the racket brought more evil spirits out of neighboring homes and business than it ever scared away. As for me and my chums, we laughed and waved and imagined someday riding in the back of the noisy getaway car.
Peace . . .
A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon the window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
‘Ain’t you ‘shamed, you sleepy head?
― Robert Louis Stevenson
On the mornings when Mom woke me, instead of Dad, she would often come in reciting this poem, but would change the last line to her liking. It might be,
Time to get ready for school!
Or on a lucky day
Get up we’re going to the fair!
Peace . . .
When I was young I could do backbends. I could stand on my hands. I could fall down, bounce back up and keep running. I could move a couch without wetting my pants.
It’s all too easy to come up with things I used to be able to but now can’t. Lately I’ve been trying to remember things I used to do and still can, but for some reason stopped. One day instead of hopping up on the bed to put on my socks, I sat on the floor like I did when I was a kid. The simple act created a small shift in attitude. What else can I still do?
- Go outside barefoot
- Drink hot chocolate
- Make clover necklaces
- Watch tv with a blanket and a pillow on the floor
- Squirt Hershey’s Syrup in my mouth
- Picnic on a blanket
- Color with crayons
- Pick dandelions and put them in a vase
- Stare up at the stars
- Lay on my back and imagine shapes in the clouds
- Make snow angels
Children have a way of keeping us young at heart. They encourage us to play and leave our cares behind. Playing with children allows us permission to indulge. But hey! When you were a kid, all you wanted to do is grow up so you could do whatever you want whenever you want. So if you want to act like a kid all by yourself, you get to do that.
What did you used to do that you still can if you wanted to? Go for it. I double dog dare you.
Your inner child is waiting.
Peace . . .
My memory lane is a train track. You might say it’s more of a Memory Line than a Memory Lane. The tracks ran less than a block from my house. I can still remember the mournful cries of the whistles announcing their approach in and out of Minneapolis.
We spent hot summer days under trees on a piece of land we called we called the ditch. The ditch was as long as our neighborhood, 100 to 200 feet wide. It ran alongside the tracks, and despite how fearsome it sounds, was the perfect playground for my mates and me. We climbed trees, both upright and felled and made moguls for bicycles. And the trains rumbled by. Sometimes we’d race toward the tracks to see the engineer at his place in front. We’d pump our arms to see if he’d toot the whistle and jump for joy if he did.
Holly Shopping Center is still less than a mile from where I grew up, but several other of our hangouts are gone. We biked or walked, and always crossed the tracks to get anywhere. We played a game to see who could stare at the top of the cars the longest. As they flew by, the wind swooshed against our bodies, and the train seemed to be falling down on top of us. Our screams of delight rivaled the roar of the cars. And always at the end, there was the red caboose.
As a toddler, clean from the bath and dressed in flannel, I’d sit on my mother’s lap looking out at the moon from our big living room window. We snuggled and she bounced me on her lap. Sometimes she’d read The Little Engine That Could. One of the songs she sang was Little Red Caboose. We’d get to the end and I’d join in. “Little red caboose behind the train . . . toot, toot!”
On nights when sleep defied me, I’d wait in the darkness and listen. At night you could hear the trains from miles away, blowing their whistle at each crossing.
I still like to hear the reassuring rumble of a train from my bed. As the cars drift away . . . clickety, clickety, clickety . . . they pull me back to my childhood home, and deep into dreamland.
Peace . . .
At the risk of sounding like a relic, I have to say that sometimes it seems like there is no such thing as common courtesy on the road anymore. It use to be you could turn on your blinker, and people would make room for you to change lanes. That’s right. The blinker was like a request. “May I come over?” Then your buddy in the next lane would ease up on the accelerator just a little bit. Not enough to make him late for work, but just enough to say, “Sure! There’s room for both of us.”
When I learned to drive, I was instructed to go slowly in parking lots because people who were backing up didn’t necessarily see you. Then if you saw their white reverse lights, you stopped so they had time and space to back up. Nowadays, if you see someone backing up, the protocol seems to be to honk so they know you’re barreling through.
Yesterday I made the mistake (or was it?) of going out of turn at a 4-way stop. We’ve all been there. You think you’re next, but maybe someone else thinks their next. So I went. As I passed the woman who obviously thought she was next, she gave me a look of horror like I had threatened the lives of her children in the back seat.
Call me sensitive, but a middle finger, a honk or a dirty look, can ruin my day. I’d be willing to bet if you knew me, you wouldn’t want to ruin my day.
And you know what? Today in a parking lot I almost pulled out in front of an SUV due to a huge pile of snow blocking my view. I slammed on my brakes enough to skid a few feet. You know what the woman in the SUV did? She waved at me and smiled! And that simple act revived my faith in humanity.
Would you rather ruin someone’s day, or make the world a little better place to live? You have that power.
Peace . . .
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a flight attendant, a truck driver, a veterinarian and a teacher. None of those things ever came to fruition, but I have never stopped wondering what I could be if I ever grew up.
Sometimes I imagine selling everything to move out to the country and live on a farm. I’d want to have cows and chickens and grow organic food and sell it to people who eat things like wheat grass and chia seeds. I’d have a pasture and a horse, and a big enough yard that Sabbie could run for Frisbees without ripping up our small suburban lawn. The nearest house would be a half mile away, and I’d call them neighbors.
When I told Bubba about this he called me a hippie.
Me: I suppose I would have to stop shaving my legs.
Bubba: I reckon.
Me: Do you think I could keep shaving my pits, or would I have to let that go too?
Bubba: I think that goes along with the gig.
There is always something to discourage me from my big ideas. You can call me a pessimist. I say I’m a realist. A realist with smoothly shaven legs and pits.
Peace . . .
As promised, I’m letting you know that I found the picture of me in my little pixie cut. So homely, I’m cute. And after all these years, I have to say it’s true.
Peace . . .