Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: Kaleidoscope of Life
By Carole Robishaw
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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 week’s laundry. Taking dad’s shirts from the icebox’s 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 dad’s 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, I’m 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 can’t 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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