www.blindpigandtheacorn.com). Tipper's post was a list of remembrances by one of her readers about growing up in Western North Carolina. I have loved Western North Carolina and Appalachia since my very first visit some years ago. It seems something just draws me there and I keep going back, hoping to move there someday.
I grew up in upstate New York, near the Catskills, and lived in a small town, an area much like Western NC. That's probably the reason I love NC so much - nostalgia. I have always felt I was born in the wrong time because I love to do things the old fashioned way, love old crafts. I prefer cooking right from scratch, canning, weaving and embroidery, etc. There is so much of that back home and in NC. I know I won't get Mr. K. back to New York, but I keep hoping for at least halfway back!
The list Tipper posted by one of her readers reminded me of my favorite spring and summer pursuits as a child in the country. Inspired by that list, I thought I'd share some of them here.
- picking wild strawberries in fields and woods - those little tiny ones.
- going barefoot as soon as it was warm enough. We never wore shoes all summer and we would use our toes to pop tar bubbles on the tar and gravel road. Took a long time to get the tar off!
- building forts, with the trees that fell during winter storms, in the the woods.
- wandering the woods, alone or with friends, without any cares or fears.
- lightening bugs!
- watching bees on the flowers.
- barbecue every weekend - hot dogs, hamburgers, steak; especially my dad's Chinese hot dogs and hamburgers!
- sleeping out on the porch or in homemade tents out in the backyard.
- helping to plant our garden.
- stealing tomatos and cucumbers from the gardens to snack on, fresh and still warm from the sun.
- spraying each other with the garden hose to cool off until we got an "above-ground" swimming pool.
- my mom's potato salad with those hot dogs and hamburgers.
- watching the vegetables grow. I was born in the city and we moved to the country when I was eight. I was fascinated by all the flowers, gardens and trees.
- my mom's daffodils in the spring when it seemed too cold for flowers to be blooming.
- weeping willow trees.
- the row of lilac bushes in our backyard and the scent of them.
- neighborhood block parties.
- my first taste of venison.
- sitting on the patio on a Saturday night with everyone, roasting marshmallows, listening to the adults talk.
- falling asleep with the windows open, listening to the sounds of nature, trying to figure out what each sound was.
When we moved from the city to the country, my first experience was getting stung by a yellow jacket. We had some Lombardi trees along the driveway and I was sitting playing with the dirt around the trees when all of a sudden I felt the most awful stinging on my finger. I let out a wail and my parents and relatives, who were helping with the move, came running out. A neighbor came over and diagnosed the problem. A little ice and love from mom made all well. After that, stepping on bees and getting a sting in the foot was no big deal, we'd just rub our feet on the grass and went on our way. I guess the rubbing pulled the stinger out! Funny, everyone got stung now and then, bees, yellow jackets, wasps, but I never knew of anyone who was allergic.
No one would mind when we kids would steal a few vegetables to snack on. Those were the best, still warm and just so good. Sometimes we'd even make a salad. Everyone had gardens, some bigger than others, and people shared the bounty.
Now, my dad loved to barbecue and we loved to eat it so we barbecued a lot. He came up with a very funny, but really good idea to top burgers and hot dogs - Chun King chow mein!!! It sounds weird, but honestly we loved it. He would take one of my mom's copper bottomed pots and heat the chow mein on the edge of the grill. We'd bring our plates over, rolls open and waiting. He'd give us a burger or dog and top it with a spoonful of the chow mein. Boy, they were good. When friends would join us, they'd hesitate, but eventually give in and try it. They never could believe how good it was.
Weeping willows are still my favorite trees. It was such an amazing thing for us, fresh from the city and even later, to put a branch in some water and watch the roots come out. Those branches grew into trees pretty fast too and made wonderful places to to play under. We would also just stick a branch in the ground and it would grow into a tree pretty much in no time at all.
And I still love the sounds of night time, frogs in the lake, the wind in the trees and hedges, all the other rustles and sounds I can't identify, that lovely stillness that comes on slowly as we turn on a few lamps. We settle down, me with my needlework or a good book, and Mr. K. in the den watching TV or sometimes joining me in the living room, sitting in the willow rocker, chatting.
Life is good and so are the memories.