Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Reflections of the Past ~ West Virginia
Today I am thinking of my Granny and her house in West Virginia...all of the happy springs and summers spent there.
Every Easter over spring break we would visit for a week. In April, winter was still in New York...but in West Virginia, the breeze was a little softer. The grass was light green, Daffodils and Crocus grew in her yard. The nights were still chilly, but the daylight brought warmth.
During the summer, Cicadas (or Hot Bugs, as I called them) rattled all day long in the trees, but the heat was not unbearable. Granny's house was nestled in a valley between the hills, where it stayed cool.
Summers in West Virginia (1969-76); Each day was an adventure; my brother, my cousin and I, played outside all day; our bikes were our "cars", the old brown metal glider between the two huge trees in the front yard was the gas station, where we would fill our bikes with imaginary gas; The Rock, up the hill from the house, where my cousin and I would go to sit and talk for hours. It seemed so high, up on that hill. We would climb that hill, and sit on the rock. We could see the top of the house, and the hills and fields and granny's garden.
Summer mornings brought breakfasts of biscuits and gravy, sliced tomatoes and bacon. Granny's transistor radio played in the kitchen as she cooked, and I woke up to "How Do You Mend A Broken Heart", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Suspicious Minds" on WCHS AM.
Lunch was thick slabs of baloney on white Purity Maid bread, slathered with Miracle Whip, and slices of tomatoes from the garden. During those summer days, we'd run into the kitchen and snag Freezer Pops from the pull out freezer below Granny's fridge. With Orange, Purple and Green mouths, we'd play throughout the afternoon, one of us occasionally crying out from a sweat bee bite. I was the biggest baby...running inside, for peroxide and baking soda to be applied to my bite. Then, I'd sulk on the couch, silently hating the sweat bees for living, and ruining my outside playtime.
Supper was always corn bread.....green beans and fried yellow squash from the garden. Fried chicken, always prepared in the red electric skillet, by my Aunt.
After supper, there was more outside playtime, until the Lightning Bugs appeared. Then came baths, and TV; The Dolly Parton Show, Hee Haw, M*A*S*H, The Waltons. I remember one of my older teenage cousins coming over some evenings to watch television...he did not have a TV at his house. We would watch Petrocelli, Columbo, and other detective shows.
Then there were the "Going to Town" days, where we would drive into Charleston to run errands. The mornings were spent running around, getting ready. The scent of Aqua Net permeated the air as my mother and Aunt fixed their hair. It took almost 60 minutes to drive to town. We'd be in my Aunt's blue Chevy, us three kids in the backseat, windows rolled down, no a/c. We would shop at Stone and Thomas and The Diamond, then Kroger's, before heading home. On the way home, we would stop at Dairy Queen, for hot dogs and shakes.
At night, we slept with the windows open; The Sounds of Night coming through our windows. My mother complaining about how she hated the sounds of frogs and crickets...she grew up with them and they drove her crazy. I loved it. So many different and strange sounds. I would lie there and try to imagine what was making each sound....crickets, bull frogs, and some others that I have never heard again. Some sounds I can't even describe, but can still hear clearly in my mind, like The Clicking Bug. It made clicking sounds, down the the creek. I heard it every night. The Sounds of Night; Granny's soft snores, sighs of sleep, and sometimes the yard dogs barking at something unknown. If the barking continued for too long, Granny would get up and get her gun, me behind her, clutching at her gown, as she made her way to the breezeway door with a flashlight. "Git! Git!" She would yell, as her flashlight would find a possum, squinting in it's bright light. It would lumber off into the night. The dogs would settle down, and we'd lie back down, soft beds and quilts. The gurgling creek lulling me back to sleep. What I wouldn't give to hear those sounds once more.
My Granny's house has sat empty for a long time. She passed away in 1983 and my Aunt continued to live there until 2006. My Aunt had gotten new furniture at some point, which still remains in the house. But besides the new furniture, a lot of old things remain. The electric clock that hangs in the kitchen, which has been telling time since before I was born. The four poster bed in one of the bedrooms, given to my Aunt when she was in her twenties. Quilts, stacked in the closets, smelling of mold and mildew, falling to pieces when touched. And The Rock up on the hill. One of the last times I was at the house I looked up at that rock. It wasn't so high up on the side of that hill after all. Where it used to loom large, it now appears small, inconsequential.
I realized back then that those days and nights were special. I knew that they would someday end. What I didn't know, is how painful it would be to recount those memories. Happy memories that cause tears today. Although through my pain and my tears, I am forever grateful to have been there to love and to be loved. Dear Granny and My Childhood, I love you and I miss you, Always~
P.S. This morning I realized that the day that I typed this up, Wednesday, was Granny's birthday. No wonder she was on my mind so much that day~