Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lazy Summer

Lazy summer, hot and dry. Then hot and humid.
Grass crunching dead and dry beneath your feet. Even the birds are panting.

The sun burns through the hazy sky.
No relief . . .just uncomfortable!

Kids bake beside the warm pool while farmers pray for rain. Robins struggle to find a lone worm through hard, crusted soil. They are waiting for a meal that may never emerge. The swing sets in local parks . . . vacant. Their only movement, if any, is from the hot, stale breeze. The stagnant, limp wind slowly withers leaves that cry to God for water.

Stillness . . .

A small bird drops to the edge of a dried stream bed - hoping, that death won't be soon.

The old man is awake!
He is failing to sleep and snore!

Evidently . . .
He didn't bump his head.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tar Bubbles

Hot and sticky, especially under your feet when you walk across the street. Those tiny little tar bubbles were everywhere! Shining in the hot sun of afternoon. Soft to the touch of a finger. Sticky and deflating when they were disturbed, leaving a dark, black dot on your fingertip that lasted for days, despite your hard scrubbing. The twelve foot walk across the street left the bottom of your shoes polka-dotted with tar spots that wouldn't allow you in the house until your shoes were left on the back stoop.
Riding your bike down the center of the street on a hot, still, and humid day - you could hear the tiny tar bubbles popping under the tires.
Soft pops . . .
Gooey pops . . .
Slow motion "pup - pup - pups".
Tar bubbles on every street of my childhood. Don't be caught walking barefoot across those streets! Little tender feet with black dotted bottoms and black spotting, wiggling toes. No matter how hard one scrubbed or soaked in the tub, the spots remained for a long time.
But it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? Feeling those gooey, sticky "pup - pup - pups" beneath your tiny feet.
"Pup - pup - pup - pup - pup. . ."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rubber Trees

Rubber Trees

We were "swingers of birches" . . .

I didn't realize it until seventh or eighth grade. That's when I read the poem by Robert Frost. Of course, I didn't know those trees were birches. I don't think any of us knew they were birches. To us? There were rubber trees!

Not all birches are white, you know. Some look like normal-colored trees. Our rubber trees sure looked normal! The only difference was they could bend. They could bend real far! The lighter you were, the farther up the trunk you had to climb. As high as those tender tree-tops could hold you. That way, you could swing all the way down to the ground. But before you started swinging, you just couldn't help but look around . . . Perched so high in the sky, you could see for miles! The pond looked like a puddle from our "perch on high". Of course, we were small then, but you couldn't help but sigh with excitement at the view of the entire countryside spanned below.

Then one of us started the motion, and we all joined in! Giving our small bodies their all - we grunted and groaned in an attempt to swing that tall tree top all the way to the ground. Our squeals of delightful laughter drifted with the breeze over the empty cornfields. We were flying! When our feet finally touched the ground, we could barely catch our breath before starting up the tree again! And if the one we just dismounted grew limp? There was always another. In fact, I remember rows and rows of those trees . . . those rubber trees.

It was different in the winter, though. Especially after a heavy snow . . . or an ice storm. We had to be more careful climbing up those slippery branches. The ride down was also a little slower, too. I'm sure those rubber trees suffered under our light-weight bodies. Their trunks were stiff with the cold of winter - crackling and moaning as we clung tightly to the branches. But they still bowed us down ever so gently. And after an ice storm . . . we crunched across the broken glass that had splintered from the now flaccid trunks to another rubber tree ripe for riding. We thought we could last forever, until our noses and fingers and toes told us they were too cold to continue any more.

Yes, Mr. Frost, we're glad you were a lot like we used to be. I'm glad you were a swinger of rubber trees, too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ode To An Old Oak

Ode To An Old Oak

The tree swayed in
the summer breeze.
Lofty winds
whipped through
strong branches,
Twisting the
leaves like
whirling dervish.

Atop the mighty oak, a forgotten tree house withheld the test of time.
Cold winters and blowing snow.
The rushing of hot summer winds - The baking of the sun.
The lightening of fall tipping the branch tops.
The warm-cold weather of springs gone by.

Those all were factors of the greying and rotting of the wooden house perched high above ground. The huge nails hammered by little hands are the reminders of the toil that went into the secret house on high.
Young sweat lingers no more.
Wood splinters in adolescent fingers have long been forgotten.
The partially broken ladder still hangs firm against the thick spine of the tree's trunk.

Have those dreams faded? What are young boys up to now-a-days? Have they grown too old for tree houses and shimmying up tall oaks? Have they outgrown sitting lazily on a hot summer day with their bare feet dangling from a swaying branch?

Are those days really gone?
Or does our youth have to be taught the experiences of days gone by?
I had a tree house once. It's gone now, but my memory of it is as vivid as the blazen sunset settling into the horizon as I watched the sun sink into the earth from my majestic perch.

Those days I will never forget!

Don't let our youth of today dwindle away in front of some video game . . .

Friday, January 9, 2009



You can use anything you'd like. A handkerchief. A portion of an old sheet. A discarded curtain. A rag (be sure the material isn't too heavy).

Oh boy!
It was so exciting! We used to spend hours trying to make the best parachute of all. Remember cutting that material to the right size? Then tying a string on to each corner - making sure they were the same length so they met perfectly in the middle. Then do you remember trying to find something as a weight? We used rocks . . .which always seemed to slip out. Nuts and bolts . . .which were usually too heavy. You name it, we tried it! But the best weight of all was those plastic army men. They were the best because they looked like a real person.
After we were done making the parachute we thought was the best, all of us would roll them up into a neat, tight ball. Then we would throw them as high as we could toward the sky and watch as they slowly unfolded. As those homemade parachutes floated gently to the ground, we squealed with joy and excitement!
We all knew that ours was the best! Ours went the highest!
Sometimes -
Some of us would even get crazy and climb onto the garage roof! Way up there, we would throw our parachutes high into the sky. The little ones on the ground would stand there watching in awe as the material slowly opened and the parachutes gently drifted back down to earth.
What fun those days were.
HEY! Do you have an old hanky and some string? I'm sure we could find something for a weight.

Want to go float some parachutes?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Floating Down the Avenue

Floating Down the Avenue

Gather a small group of kids on a blustery day.
It doesn't matter if it's spring or fall,
or even mid summer.
Just make sure it's a windy day.
The more wind, the better!
Grab a large tarp, or an old blanket. Even a sheet will work - if you can get it out of the linen closet without getting caught by mom!
Here's what you do next . . .
Face the wind. Make sure someone your size is standing about four feet across from you. (They should be facing the wind too!) Now tie the bottom corner of the material you chose to the belt loop in the middle of the back of your pants. If you are small, you may have to have someone else tie it. Grab the top corner of the same material and stretch your arms high above your head. Make sure the person next to you is doing the same! Wait for a BIG gust of wind to swoop at you -
Then . . .
Let the wind take you!
Let it lift you up!
Let it float you down the avenue!!
After you have landed several feet away,
Try to stop laughing and giggling, and let the excitement of your mini-flight calm a bit.
Then . . .
Try flying again and again!

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Friend - The Turtle

My Friend, the Turtle

I remember from when I was a very much younger turtle,
That I had a friend who was not quite like the rest of us.
He was always wandering off by himself
when he grew tired of the games we never ceased to enjoy.

One day . . .
He built himself a flying machine!
We were all very much excited about his flying machine,
And perhaps a bit fearful,
For no turtle had ever left the ground before!
My friend - laughing at our fears -
Climbed into his flying machine and spun off into the sky,
Waving to us from a great height!
When he returned to the ground,
He spoke to us of strange sights in breathless words
which we could not understand.

Each day, he boarded his flying machine and soared off into the clouds.

And each day, his words grew more difficult to comprehend.

Fearing he was a bit mad,
We decided to ignore him and continue in our games.

Finally . . .
One day he disappeared into a bank of clouds and was never seen again.


From time to time
I hear rumors from traveling stangers about my friend.
Some say he crashed into a lake and went straight to the bottom.
Others contend he grew ambitious and flew directly into the sun.

But somehow . . .
I feel he is still up there in his flying machine . . .
Seeing sights no turtle has even seen.