Today, I reach into a file of memories labeled, “Grandma Linderman’s.” The movie theatre in my head has played them each day since my cousin, Nicki, called last week. Most of my memories there involve her, you see. I couldn’t possibly rank my cousins, each has been a great friend to me at different points in my life. Most of them felt more like siblings, Nicki included, but it’s best to focus on one memory file at a time, and I gotta start with somebody!
Early in childhood, I can’t recall who, but someone told me Grandma Linderman wasn’t my real great grandma, she was theirs, and Nicki’s, in a tone that told me I didn’t belong (we aren’t actually related by blood, in truth). Nicki wasn’t around when that girl taunted me. I remember feeling awkward after that, like a friend brought to tag along to somebody else’s grandma’s house. I enjoyed it anyway, even if (as a child) I was very self-conscious around Grandma Linderman afterward. Those are different stories to pursue at a different time.
Grandma Linderman had a farm, nothing huge, and just a modest home. I don’t recall any cows or chickens, I think someone else took over the farmhouse and ran the other parts. I honestly can’t recall anything except the lack of a typical farmhouse and any animal besides the wonderful, near-feral cats and kittens that occupied her barn. I remember trying to befriend them; worth every scratch! I succeeded in “catching” a few and proving myself friendly and worth a purr and game of straw batting.
My Aunt Debbie caught on to how much I loved to visit that farm and tried to make it a point to bring me every time she brought Nicki. The cats left with the barn. The new memories created are infinitely more awesome. The largest hill, the sparse woods, and the pond are places I will always carry with me.
First, I remember the floating dock on the pond. More like a raft, but we called it a floating dock. Nicki and I grabbed a few long, thick branches from the ground and used them to push our way slowly across the pond. I remember Aunt Debbie laughing as she watched, comparing us to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We tried so hard, but every time we took a break, the slight drift carried us back the way we came. I think we gave up a little more than halfway across and decided to enjoy the pleasant drift back, singing duets all the way. I fail to recall why we gave up, perhaps our sticks were too short for the middle. The adventure and imaginative stories during the journey were more the point.
Another memory involves the largest hill on the property. It grew wild and free. When Nicki and I climbed this hill, we stopped in wonder at the top. The wind whipped hard at us, but it also bent the soft-looking, wild grasses in a rippling stream of silver and green. Clover and a few other wildflowers dotted it. Gorgeous. What’s a kid to do? Throw ourselves down it, of course! It looked so soft, so infinitely more fun to roll down than a mere grassy-hill.
We were so very wrong! The end result? Two little girls bent over themselves and each other, picking pokey seeds and burrs out of each other’s clothing and hair (looooong hair) for hours. We limped, winced, and hissed our way over to the picnic table at the edge of the sparse woods. The discomfort and irritation eventually forced our shirts, shoes, and socks off during the picking (only in secluded farmland).
For all that discomfort, I never regretted it. I grin, even chuckle when I see us in my mind’s eye, as though watching from behind. If we never rolled down that hill, I’d regret it today, never knowing I saved both of us hours of discomfort, but also one less amusing memory later in life.
After that, a trip through the sparse woods; another adventure. I’m sure we walked on our heels for some of it, only to later “discover” unicorn tracks that demanded following. We looped around and found ourselves blocked by a barbed-wire fence. Cows stopped grazing to watch us, curious. One had the softest, biggest brown eyes. She ambled over and I reached out to pet her. Only inches from touching, a loud pop rang in my ears. I snatched my hand back with a yelp. The evil witch! She struck me down with the power of lightning. She took the unicorn! Smoke wisped from my clothes and Nicki struggled to drag me to safety. “Leave her alone!” She shouted at the witch.
Oh wait, that’s not what happened at all. I got shocked by a frickin electric fence while Nicki laughed at me the entire way back to Grandma Linderman’s house. What a punk!
I wouldn’t take anything back…except the fence. I bet the cow was laughing too!
These events are duet-dated at ~11 years old (for me) and ~9 years old (for Nicki). Our favourite duet was “A Whole New World” from the recent release, Aladdin.
How about you? Is there a place in your heart? Why? Ever encountered your own pokey seeds at the end of something beautiful, or been shocked by an electric fence? Tell me about it in comments (or provide a link to your own post about it)!