Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Thursday, June 26, 2003  

Real summer weather as come at last. Mind, now, I’ve never been a particular fan of summertime. It is okay. It’s nice. The idea of summer is fantastic, but it was never a reality for me. Even as an adult, when I get the chance to just play all day long, I feel a little uncomfortable - a little guilty - and I still worry about what’s going to happen when the grownups find out I’ve goofed off all day. I even sometimes get to thinking BigDarling is the grownup who will complain, which is ridiculous. He’s the one who had the Huckleberry Finn childhood. He’s the one who left the house in the morning and came back after dark, where his aunt’s cook had something in the kitchen for him, only he had to eat it outside on the back porch. (Well, you do get this sort of treatment in the south, when you are Little Mr. Wright, the darling of all the childless old ladies in the family. I would probably have indulged him too.) He’s the one whose mom put him and his buddy out in Fredericksburg with a canoe and let him paddle till he got home. 50 miles! Before he’d even started high school! In fact, it was hearing about his long open free summer days that made me decide that it didn’t matter what we did there, we were going to move to Essex and raise a family. So, in 1975, two musicians from the symphony packed up bag and baggage, and Pop’s old WWII army buddy tent, and hightailed it down the highway. What a summer! It rained 40 days and 39 nights. Well - I do know it rained 17 days and nights in a row. I lost 30 lbs. We were doing all the cooking ... ahem ... I was doing all the cooking over a campfire and since every day the rain would come and put out the fire, sometimes we didn’t eat at all! We’d sit in the car with a carton of cigarettes and 2 crossword puzzle books, while the road washed out in front of us and the road washed out behind us. About mid-July, not long after the dog got into the car one rainy day when we were visiting cousin John, and tore open the bag of flour with his wet paws - think kindergarten paste all over the interior - BD said “Hon, I have to get building that cabin or we won’t have any place to live this winter” so he just went out into the rain with saw and hammer and drill and started building.

Long about early August it did stop raining and by the 12th we had a roof and floor and wall frames and could put the wood cookstove inside, along with the old metal kitchen table, 2 chairs and a bed! There is no technological step so vast as the one that allowed women to cook standing up. By golly that was modernity. And none too soon, either, since, unbeknownst to us, LittleDarling was already on the way. Ain’t that life?

That summer I also got to go to my first Hoskins Reunion. This is an ancient family tradition in BD’s family and I was so excited to go. You were supposed to bring something, but I am sure we didn’t have much to offer. What I remember is that we arrived after most folk had finished eating. And oh lord I was so hungry. There, stretching on into eternity, were trestle tables piled with crab casseroles, fried chicken, ham biscuits, everything chocolate in the world, peaches from Hillsborough, watermelon pickles from Retreat, Sally Lunns, and bundt cakes, which were still fairly new back then, made from a mix that gave you a sort of pudding filling. Oh how we did eat. In fact, we just ate down those tables till we got to the end. And then we discovered that - like divers unused to the change in pressure - our starved stomachs and circulatory systems couldn’t handle the gorge. There came a time when the pain grew too great and we crawled beneath an ancient hydrangea bush in the yard at Midway and hid out, groaning softly, till everyone left.

Well - you can do that sort of thing when you are 23. And who’da thought I’d be one of the ladies (I can't quite say matrons, but I wonder what word all the new young brides would use.) organizing the reunion some day?

So what brought all this nostalgia out? Well, this is the first summer since then that we have had so much rain - and yesterday BigDarling was chopping up firewood when I got home from work - just across the little stream from where we camped that summer. I sat there by the stream, remembering, in all the soft warmth of a summer afternoon, while he finished up, so I could give him a lift back to the house. The air was so clear. Beautiful colors danced upon my eyes. The sound of the stream as it gushed through the culvert under the road and tumbled into the little pool where the dogs like to bathe, was like some tender melody from my youth. 6 o’clock sun threaded through the trees and kissed my bare arms.

There was a peace that seemed almost tactile and I wondered if it would even be possible to capture it in words. Perhaps it is a futile effort to even try. Perhaps these perfect moments of grace and beauty and charm and ease are ment only to be felt; to be tasted on the tongue and lifted up in stretched out hands even as they vanish. They are the food for our soul, keeping us nourished till BigDarling comes up and says “Let’s go swimming”.

posted by Bess | 8:10 AM