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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Kaleidoscope of Life
By Carole Robishaw


Memories are such strange things; they can be as solid as a piece of granite, or as elusive as a wisp of smoke. Pinning down a memory is like trying to catch a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, sometimes staying motionless so long you wonder if itís still alive, other times it never quite lands anywhere long enough to actually touch.

I have so many brief, but strong memories; they seem to flit across my mind like that butterfly in the flower garden. Some are triggered by smell, like the one that came while sitting with my granddaughter in the hot sun, catching the waxy smell of her crayons, and suddenly I was 7 years old again, and looking at the porch floor, knowing that my bottom was going to be as warm and colorful as that floor when mom discovered I had left my crayons sitting in the hot, summer, Texas sun when I when inside. They made such a beautiful riot of color where they had oozed out of the torn paper wrappers, spreading, blending, and melting into the porous wood. I stood and admired the creation of random color, swirling at my feet, mesmerized by it, a veritable work of art so beyond my own abilities, and yet done with such beauty by the heat of the sun. Mom surprised me that day, she actually laughed at my accidental creation, and we enjoyed it together, before we set to scraping as much as we could off of the wood. Looking back, knowing what that wax would have done to the porous wood, I wonder what the landlord thought when he attempted to repaint the porch after we had moved on.

More memories came when I stood at the ironing board, and the smell of hot cotton rose to my nostrils. I can close my eyes and see mom standing for hours on end over her board, ironing the weekís laundry. Taking dadís shirts from the iceboxís crisper drawer, starched, sprinkled, and rolled up to keep them damp. When she touched the hot iron to the cotton steam rose up to swirl around her head. She would then hang all the identical stiff white shirts on the pole that ran between the door jams, soon to be followed by her blouses, and then enough ruffled dresses to keep three little girls looking proper. I would watch her for hours as she ironed, sprinkling the clothes from a bottle she shook over them, fighting to get out the wrinkles. When she needed a break, I would help by ironing the flat items: table clothes, sheets, and dadís handkerchiefs. So different than what I do now, complaining as I tidy up the front of a wrinkle resistant shirt or blouse.

Sitting on the patio, eating strawberries with my granddaughters, that sweet smell, and suddenly, Iím 9 again, living on a farm in Ohio. The house sat in a valley, the hills behind and around the house were wooded, some of the trees were fruit trees, it was probably an orchard at some time in the far past, but now the trees had grown wild, and uncared for. If you followed the path behind the chicken coop, you would come to a pond that was created by the spring that bubbled out of the remains of an old stone cold-cellar, where the original owners of the land could store the milk in the summer. The water ran down the hill and filled the pond. The hill itself was covered with hundreds of strawberry plants, all bright shiny green with those beautiful, big, red, juicy, plump fruits, just begging to be eaten. It was a war, trying to eat the berries before the birds and small animals could who loved them as much as we did. I canít remember ever being so full of strawberries, our clothes and hands and faces covered with the sweet, sticky juice, we ate as many as we dropped in the buckets. Mom made lots of jam, which enabled us to keep the taste of those hot summer days fresh in our memories for many months after the hill had given up that years fruit. I watch the juice run down my three-year-old granddaughters chin, and we laugh together.

Memories are a kaleidoscope of life, bright, beautiful, poignant, sad, happy, all playing a part in who we are, the perspective changing moment by moment as we view them in the light of today.

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This article has been read 621 times
Member Comments
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Sara Harricharan 07/17/08
Love the kaleidoscope angle of this story! The memory with the crayons was my absolute favorite! So wonderful! ^_^
Chely Roach07/20/08
I loved this...I was particularly drawn to the ironing memory; I had a total recall of watching my mother iron white shirts for hours. The smell of the starchy, steaming cotton; it's actually a delicious memory. Thanks for that. Very well written piece.
Edmond Ng 07/21/08
I like the way you put across the feeling of keeping the taste of hot summer days fresh in memories for months. Reminds me of the occasional moments I recall from time to time in my daily life of good times and precious memories while traveling abroad on holidays - so carefree and relaxing.

You have made the point on passing memories very clear, of how they bring memories of joy and sadness. Memories such as these play important roles in our lives and serve as reminders of how we have become who we are today, molded in the Potter's hands, to live our lives according to His plan.

Karen Wilber07/21/08
I smiled the whole way through because of your descriptions. The part about the ironing was fascinating--I felt like I was there. I like how visual this piece was. I felt like I could see everything in your kaleidoscope--colors, shapes, actions.
Tim George07/22/08
I see my mom ironing as I read your article. Your use of descriptives is excellent. Keep up the good work! The Watchers greet you :)

Marlene Austin07/22/08
Great use of familiar events to draw each reader to pull from our own memories. :) Love the summative last paragragh focusing on the light of today making the changes in the view.
Glynis Becker07/23/08
Beautiful memories. The descriptions of smells and sounds are wonderful!
Mariane Holbrook 07/23/08
This is great! When I was a teenager a hundred years ago, I worked after school ironing shirts at a boarding house. Your entry brought back the sight, smell and yes the burned fingers of those days! Kudos!
Joy Faire Stewart07/23/08
Excellent job with vivid descriptions. The ironing reminded me of things I had forgotten, watching my mom iron.
Joshua Janoski07/24/08
Your descriptions in this are so vivid. They are a real treat for the senses. I really think you will be moving out of beginners soon. Excellent writing.

I appreciate you sharing your memories with us.