Back in the late fifties, and early sixties, my early years were accented with days that went on forever, and were filled with exploration. They're mostly lost, but moments are preserved forever.
We were barefoot during the warmer months. Our feet were as tough as leather. Walking across a shell parking lot, or hot asphalt, was only a minor inconvenience. Stone bruises were the same, and a cut was forgotten, until a blade of grass found its way into area that no bandage could secure.
In the evening, when supper was over, the light had finally faded, and we knew to go in, unless we had permission to wander with flashlights to find frogs, we'd take our bath to wash away the sweat beads. Although washed, our calloused feet were still deep brown; like permanent moccasins; a testament to long days of exploring.
In the late Summer, with the grass high, we'd lay in the yard, watch the clouds pass over, and listen to the drones of high flying airplanes. Jets were few, and the deep rumble of large rotary engines was comforting; almost mesmerizing. A few moments of in activity would have led to a nap, but there was so much to be done, so we'd be off to take advantage of every moment available. School was soon to start, and the next real time of being free was the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving was arriving at my grandparent, turning their doorbell ringer, and walking in to a house almost too warm. The small space heaters would be on low, the kitchen almost unbearably hot, and the glorious aroma of the soon to be enjoyed feast was intoxicating. We'd say our hellos, scamper through the den, where my grandfather would be watching football, and head out the back door; my grandfather's pipe smoke following us as we left.
Outside rewarded us with a brisk breeze, the light smell of burning leaves, and an azure sky that almost hurt our eyes. We only had a little time before the meal, so our wanderings were close. We'd look at the garden, now full of winter vegetables, and go look at the burning barrel; now almost empty, with only a few wisps of the smoke of leaves. We'd look, but not venture, down the alley. The neighbors had two territorial Siamese cats that wouldn't hesitate to attack. It only took one event to determine a cat was as dangerous as any dog.
We'd be called for dinner. The turkey was surrounded with dishes of mashed potatoes, Kentucky wonder beans, sweet potatoes casserole covered with marshmallows, cornbread stuffing, hot rolls, cranberry jelly, and a gravy bowl filled with a deep brown gravy swimming with giblets. There was always homemade preserves for the rolls. My grandmother would announce: "Save some room for desert", and we'd ignore the advice to insure our afternoon would have moments of being so full, we'd have to slow down for a few minutes to avoid discomfort.
Desert was apple, pecan, and pumpkin pie. That, a blueberry cheesecake, homemade cookies, and fresh brownies. Whip cream was in a bowl in the middle to for those that wanted the extra touch. How we managed to eat more is unknown, but we did. We'd finish, be shooed from the kitchen, and outside we'd go again.
The afternoon was lazy. The ancient swing my grandfather built in the thirties was still well used, and if that didn't satisfy our play, we'd drag out the stilts he built for my mother and her sisters. The short ones were soon an easy task. The taller ones were only for those willing to take a chance. The afternoon would end, when he were called for supper. We'd eat again, containers were filled with tomorrow's meal, and we'd soon be leaving in the twilight; the deep orange in the west a brilliant announcement of the approaching night.
They're all gone, except for my sister. Age took my grandparents, and mother. My father, and brothers, all passed away too soon. The hole they left is partially filled by my wife's family, who honor me with their acceptance, but the memories tug at me, almost like scars that lead to an ache as they pull. Things change, and leave only memories. I cherish mine, and pray I never forget.