Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wind of the Past

Like most of the east coast of America, (I assume), we are enjoying splendid spring-like weather this week. I know it won't last, but it's been absolutely wonderful while it has been here!

I spent two hours doing yard work this morning, clearing up some places where I'll plant flowers in a of couple months. The sun was warm on the back of my head, and a comfortable breeze kept things nice.

After the work was done, I walked to the back of the yard to get a view of the big picture. The flower beds against the back of the house looked great!

As I stood in that corner of the yard, my eye fell on a nearby tree. A swing hangs from one low branch. On a whim, I strolled to it and fingered the yellow rope thoughtfully, then sat on the wooden seat and pushed myself into a gentle motion. I closed my eyes, felt the sun on my cheek, the puff of wind in my hair, and I let my thoughts take me back....way back...

For as long as I can remember, there has been a swing in this tree. Oh, it's been replaced several times, and moved to a different branch once, but this back corner of the yard has always been the swing tree. Some of my earliest memories grew from this tree, like bright tender leaves on its greying branches.

For a while I just sat there and felt, rather than thought.

The sun hitting my cheek was so familiar. How many times had I felt it just like that, while sitting here? It always came from the left.

Moving through the air, feet off the ground, hands twined around the rope, my eyes are shut. I don't see blackness - the sun is too bright for that. It's more of a solid orang-y glow that surrounds me. The gentle movement of the swing is as familiar as my own walk.

It has been at least a year since I swung on this swing. I realize it with surprise. But that gentle movement, through a warm orange glow, shocks my memory into overdrive. Sensations come flooding over me...

...The softness of the "tassels" on our first swing. It was just the frayed ends of the white rope, but they were so soft....

...Dirt in my shoes, scuffed in from the many stops and starts I made...

...The exact feel of that wooden board...

...The brush of scraggly grey tree bark against my bare arm when I swung crookedly and hit the tree...

And the sounds. Oh, the sounds. Our road is just off a major highway. The hum of traffic is ever-present. In five minutes we can drive to an airport, stone quarry, or fire station. The jets fly over our yard, the quarry blasts shake our windows, and the fire whistle sounds at random times. But for all that, our backyard can be very quiet much of the time.

Like now. Yet even now, a breeze kicks up, in the tree tops behind the garden. The wind catches in the branches of that great big oak tree, and bounces from oak to pine. The gentle murmur swells to a louder one. It is all as familiar to me as my mother's voice. That wind. Those trees.

If I listen closely enough, I hear voices and sounds in that wind.

...The hum of the lawn mower on a summer day....

...Children laughing and screaming over the sound of the mower...The smell of lemonade mingles with that of gasoline and freshly cut grass. Somebody has brought Daddy a drink...

...A hammer pounding and an electric drill whirring - and Daddy's voice telling us to stay off the fort until he is finished making it...I feel sand on my skin, fresh from the sandbox under the fort. It is rubbing off onto the ropes of the swing...

... My younger brother is swinging in the swing across from me, in the next tree. We are pretending we are blind, and we talk to each other about what we hear. It has been so long since I heard that young boyish voice!...

...My older sister is pushing me, her small hands on my back. Her voice reminds me that it's her turn next...

...Now she is in the swing across from me. We sing gospel songs at the top of our lungs, over the sound of the lawn mower, hoping that our unsaved neighbors will hear us through their open windows...We kick our feet in the air and rejoice in victory when our shoes go flying off...

...I hear Mom calling for lunch, and I smell the hamburgers as Daddy tends the grill...

...I hear my own young voice, crying...pouring out my troubles to an empty back yard on a quiet afternoon, after fighting a math lesson that just didn't want to be learned...

It is all so real. I can hear the voices so clearly on that wind.

Then I feel tears on my cheek. These are real. I can't help myself from thinking, from feeling...from asking.


Where did the years go?

3 comments:

Ruth Ann said...

this is so beautiful. :)

ConstitutionGirl said...

That was beautiful, my dear. Just beautiful. I know just how you feel... Thank you for sharing. :)

Happy Girl said...

I loved it!
Wonderful post!! :)