This is my favorite season of the year. It just is! So many things about it trigger heartwarming memories for me. No matter where I am or what I am doing, this season reminds me of the special people that have touched my life. A heart harvest you might say. Remembering the love…
One of my favorite fall-time memories is as a little girl sitting outside with my Little Grandma while she would point out the ducks and geese flying overhead – and share how they reminded her of special people in her life. To this day, when I see the geese flying south, she is who I remember.
My favorite holiday recipe memory is with my Big Grandma…and her fruit salad. Rich with condensed milk and pink with cherries she would fill an aluminum pitcher full of fruit. Nothing would be sweeter or colder. Today, I am the one that makes it for the family…with love to her.
Another kind of fall memory is when I hear the high school band practicing outside. It gives me a flashback of marching in the Natchitoches Christmas parade – bare legged, freezing but laughing in my Flag Corp hot pants one year to my cheerleading skirt the next! Freezing or not, it was fabulous though – sitting on the side of the bridge at night watching the fireworks over the water. It was magical then and it is still magical 36 years later.
So, no…it doesn’t take much to remind me of the harvest in my life. Today as I walk to the mirror and see myself, I know that I do not see the image of the child that I once was playing outside all those years ago, but I know that I know that I can still feel the same smile rise up on the inside of me…enjoying life.
And I also know that some things are seasoned with age. Just this morning I watched as my granddaughter ran out of the door and explored outside – all bundled up in her colorful sweatshirt and pants. The circle of life is powerful…and wonderful. And day after tomorrow, her Daddy and my son, Zeb, will celebrate his birthday. God is amazing!! I embrace the Harvest.
I think one of the things I remember the most in growing up is the funny stuff. Still to this day as our family gathers round and we tell stories on each other…bloopers, scary, funny…any story is game so to speak! No one’s pride is spared. No one’s overlooked. It is just the beauty of family…year, after year…good, or bad…because it is still life!!
I think looking at my family I am probably the more serious of the bunch. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t be funny, it is just not my normal frame of mind. I think no one reminds me more of that than my sister, Julie. Years ago I moved in with her and her family for a few weeks in between husbands, oops, sorry, after my second husband! Ha…see, I can be funny! But anyway, I moved in with them and then in no time at all my jaws ached. I mean seriously ached. For a few days it puzzled me…then I realized it was all my laughing muscles getting a work out!!! Of course we got another good laugh out of that! (Giggle)
But it is time to stop while I make a disclaimer at this point in my story. The names have NOT been changed to protect the innocent. Because they weren’t innocent…just caught! (Smile) For my childhood chain of command, please make note that I was the oldest, the biggest, and the boss in relation to the other 3 kids. It was simply wisdom on their part and I, of course, insisted. They have, in the years since, made sure to tell of the terror of my reign!!
But before then…I think probably my sense of exploring came early in life and probably could be the cause of some of my parent’s gray hair…or loss of hair thereof, smile. I was an early morning riser as a toddler…there was surely so much to explore! I have heard of hair raising tales where I carried the sugar jar to the sofa, emptied it, and had fun playing in it. Oh no!! Probably just the next day I unlocked the door and let myself out of the apartment to go down to the playground. Panic! Another time, I woke early and felt sure our family pet was hungry, so I took her to the chicken pen…where she had breakfast…and started…uh…a commotion? Oops!
I grew up in a large family neighborhood. Everyone had lots of kids and we were in our own world. High school was years away and the outdoors was the wild frontier. During those years, girls worked inside – the boys worked outside – and that was just fine with me. To this day I don’t care to work outside or sweat. Once, my dad encouraged me to mow with the riding mower. I ran over a gas can and a coat hanger. I did not have to mow again. Oh my, was I careless or scheming?
As for us kids, we were “stair steps” in ages (one after the other). Again, I remind you that I was the oldest. Queen? (Giggle) Well, never forget that being the oldest came with responsibility too! I could cut up a chicken and cook a 6 course meal by the time I was 11. Ah, this triggers a family story…
Some years back, Julie, Mom and I were discussing baby books and how fast kids grow. Anyway, Mom mentioned that when I was born she didn’t realize that potty training was something that came later in a toddler’s life – someone gave her a potty chair as a gift so when I was 2 months old she began to tie me in it since I couldn’t sit up yet. Julie and I almost fell out laughing…Julie told us she was scared to turn the page in my baby book…I was surely driving by the time I was age 2!! Too funny!
Now back to the 1960’s… The weekends were adventures always! The 4 of us kids grew up hunting, fishing, camping and exploring. There was always adventure!!! In fact, our parents insisted that we could do anything – and we better have fun doing it!! We have jumped off 40 foot cliffs to swim in the lake below. We have slid down the mountainside on our backside because Dad thought we should experience it. We have climbed a fire tower in the mountains, dug up arrowheads, walked in caves, rode a wagon down the hill in snow, rode mini bikes, climbed trees, fell out of trees, dug up rabbit holes looking for the rabbit, caught a real live tarantula, had BB gun wars, went target shooting, and when camping, bathed in lakes where the fish bit you trying to eat the soap.
One of my favorite holiday memories is all of us going to the woods and searching for a Christmas tree…and to make the day more fun in the cold…we would climb the strong saplings and as they fell over, ride them to the ground! How many people know how to ride a Christmas tree? How can a life filled with all this not have stories???
As a kid I wasn’t scared of snakes…and probably because there wasn’t one left alive anywhere around our house when the boys were growing up. I think birds even flew around our property. (Smile) They were always shooting their BB guns or pellet guns…hunters to this day still…as my freezer so attests!! But back to the point at hand…I wasn’t afraid of snakes but I was scared of bats…still!!! Growing up we used to put rocks in socks and try to hit the bats under the street lights. I have even had bats dive-bomb me at night trying to cross the yard while going to a neighbor’s. I think bats are evil! Which brings me to another story…
Mom, and Julie and I as adults were at Mom and Dad’s 5th wheeler camp at Anacoco Lake one afternoon. It was a nice afternoon and it started getting dusk. I had noticed some bats swooping around the trees – but I didn’t say anything – just made note of it. Finally, I was getting real uncomfortable and wanted to go in. As it turns out, I was the last one to go inside but when I tried to turn the handle it was locked. Julie was standing on the other side of the door…laughing out the window at me. I could hear and see the swoops of the bats as they got closer and closer to me standing by the only light on outside.
Julie was enjoying her little “trick” on me but I was getting paranoid and began hollering at her to let me in – and pulling on the door with all my might – which began to shake the entire trailer. Julie was still laughing!! I feel sure I was threatening her by this time. Mom was warning her!! Needless to say, afterwards, she apologized for not realizing I was really terrified….she said she was scared to open the door after awhile because I was going to get her! To this day…it is one of her favorite stories!!
Believe it or not, another occurrence at the same lake happened just a few months later. Mom was on land at the trailer and Dad and I went out into the boat to do some night fishing right in a little cut by the landing. Remember, I am an adult. He hung a lantern on an old dead tree on the side of the boat and we began to fish as it got darker and darker. I, of course, began to notice bats swooping out of the trees closer and closer to the lantern…to us in the boat…and I mentioned it to Dad. He blew it off and said they weren’t going to hurt us.
In not time at all, I didn’t believe him – sure that the evil critter was after me – and quietly took off my life jacket, lay in the bottom of the boat and covered my head with the life jacket. As Dad turned around to say something to me, shocked that he didn’t see me – he realized where I was. He did let me out of the boat. Bats are evil, I insist!
Well, I guess big sisters can be bad too…did I mention that I am not scared of lizards? When Julie was really young, we were all playing outside at the old shed. Remember there were no video games, i-pads, i-pods, cell phones, or cable – we played outside! My Dad’s parents even spoke French when they came to visit if they were telling stories we didn’t need to hear – and then Mom and Dad would send us outside. No, I didn’t learn to speak French – I did learn a few cuss words though!
Anyway, that particular day I caught a lizard – a big green one that was really cranky. I was messing with him and then Julie came up. I have no idea why I did it…but I pressed the lizard’s open mouth on Julie’s upper arms…leaving teeth indentions looking like bite marks. I feel sure I needed a whipping for that…but I didn’t tell on myself. Shame…shame…
Growing up in 1960’s and 1970’s was fun. I had my first boyfriend in the 6th grade. He promised me a Barbie doll. (Smile)
My first French kiss was in the 7th grade and it was NASTY. (Smile) Really…the whole evening was a nightmare…as a Christian today…NO WAY! But at that time…some family friends had a house up on hill by the river and put on a huge Halloween party. The house was old and creaky with lots of windows. For the party they opened all the windows and the long white gossamer curtains would billow in the breeze – you could hear the river. There was lots of food and games at first. We even had my first game of Spin the Bottle. (Hence my first French kiss). I really had a crush on a different – older guy that was there but he didn’t know it. I certainly couldn’t tell him!!! So as we each pared off with our Spin the bottle partner and you had to take a long walk down the hill, in the dark, to the river. I was not impressed with the kiss regardless.
Anyway, after returning to the house everyone sat in a huge circle on the floor for a séance. All the lights were out and candles were in the middle of the circle. The curtains were blowing all around us and it was creepy and scary for real. Someone starting calling out for someone to talk to them – my eyes were big as marbles. After a few minutes of moaning and carrying on a man seated on the floor in the circle opened his mouth and blood ran down his face – he opened his eyes, stood up and began to walk trancelike across the room – towards me.
Now, I would like to say I didn’t freak out but that would be a lie. I truly freaked out. I screamed – jumped up onto the people sitting on the sofa behind me. Perhaps I should mention that one of the people I landed on was the guy I had the crush on? Oh, yeah. Then, if that wasn’t enough I passed clean out and they had to call my parents to come and get me. Truly, this was a new definition of embarrassment – and my last party like that!
There are many, many more stories growing up and through the years as an adult…no way to tell them all. Julie and I always laugh and say we don’t want our children telling the stories they know on us!! We know Zeb and Jeno would love telling it!!
But regardless, what a blessing to have stories with those you love. I am grateful for their relationship in my life. They are my Harvest….from days of old to present day…God has blessed me, my family…and YOU and yours.
Patti Corbello Archer
October 30, 2011