Monday, March 30, 2009

Warm Weather Memories

When I was very young, I lived in Provo, Utah. My dad was attending law school at BYU, and my mom was at home with little ones, practicing her specialty-in-life: Momming. We lived there until I was just barely 6, and then we drove across the country and settled in New Jersey.

California is already spring-like. The sunshine, the buds, the bees, the flowers, the longer daylight--it all beckons to be enjoyed. Conor and I spent a morning at the park, and several afternoons sitting on a blanket in the yard counting ladybugs (he names all of the ladybugs "Eva" from Wall-E) and eating frozen strawberry lemonade. My freckles are waking from their winter hibernation. Conor eats sour grass like there was no tomorrow. He watches the bees drinking juice so they can make us honey. I lay on the blanket and read Plato and he lays next to me and reads How Many Bugs in the Box? And then Aiden comes walking down the street, home from school, and he joins us. I just love warm weather that isn't hot. You know what I mean.

I have very vivid, though sporadic, memories of my childhood days in Provo. I remember fruit bats hanging from the eaves. I remember our garden where my little friends and I, and my "Little Buddy", Ethan, would catch grasshoppers. There were pink grasshoppers, if you could catch them. They were a prize, to be sure.

I remember our neighbors across the way (we lived in duplexes that faced one common driveway/carport) caught, jarred with funny smelling stuff, and then pinned to styrofoam, pretty little butterflies. At the time I remember being equally intrigued with the close-up view of them, but also being sufficiently horrified that they were hurting God's creatures.

I remember that we used to make mud pots. Like tea pots. Step by step with a flat base, a rounded pitcher, a spout, and a handle. Over and over we made mud pots. My mom never told me to get out of the mud, or even to wash my hands.

I remember the walk to school, kindergarten at Timpanogas Elementary, with Mrs. Hatfield. I remember walking to the corner, turning left, and running my hand along the black wrought-iron fence that enclosed the yard of a white house. The yard had white iron circular benches that went around the trunks of the trees. I thought they looked so fancy.

I remember playing at my little friend's house down the street a bit. Her mom was a ballet teacher and they had a coffee table in their livingroom with a groove that was carved all the way around the perimeter of it. We would play her "It's a Small World" and "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" records and walk around and around that coffee table, tracing our little index fingers in the groove as we walked and sang.

Life was so innocent then. Filled with promise. Happy-go-lucky. I didn't know anything about broken hearts, bills, deadlines, or worry. I had some big-girl thoughts, but I mostly just enjoyed the freedom of my imagination, and the warm sunshine. My freckles never hibernated in those days, I think.

When I count ladybugs in the grass with Conor, calling each one by name, I long for those days when that was all I really had to do that day. Just watch bugs. Name them Eva. Eat frozen lemonade. I hope my children have similar happy memories. Their lives have had considerably more stress and upheaval than mine did. They were robbed of some of their innocence, I'm sure. But, I also must tell myself that it will serve them well, was necessary in the molding of their character, will only broaden their hearts and make them more accessible to suffering people the world over.

Now they are growing and busy. They have many demands on their time, and they are setting and achieving the goals that they want for their lives. But when the sun comes out, and the daylight lingers, I hope they still remember how to play. No cares. And I hope the springtime reminds them of happiness. Always.


Heidi said...

I doubt there is a child in this world who hasn't experienced more upheaval than you did as a child. It's a different world that it was then. I also hope that my kids get to experience some carefree days like I did--I think they do--I just think there aren't as many. I feel guilty about it sometimes but for the most part, I think that's how it is for all kids these days--and that it could be worse. They could be growing up where there is never enough food or in a war zone. Your day on the lawn sounds so nice!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I feel very nostalgic suddenly...and thoughtful...beautiful post.

Annette Lyon said...

I must be in a very nostalgic mood--you got me all sniffly here.

Abby said...

I loved this post, Jenna! You make me want to get a blanket out and go watch the grass grow whie my babies play all around me. Sigh.

Luisa Perkins said...

This is one of your best posts-evocative, vivid, and insightful.

Turleygirl said...

Beautiful Jenna!