Wendy's Writing Project Blog

Remembering June 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 3:06 pm

I never imagined how much I would appreciate growing up in the country.  Wooded ravines surrounding the house offered countless hours of exploring.  Wildflowers throughout supplied scores of bouquets.  The creek provided a weekend pastime of tubing and an occasional campsite.  Settling inside was never an option.  Who would want to?

Grandma and Grandpa lived next to us.  We shared the same driveway.  Over their breakfast nook, where the garage and house roofs met,  was a deck.  No one sat on it much.  It was quite small, and I suppose the tar made it hot in the summer.  It did, however, provide a perfect place to sleep.  It was up high–  safe from the coons, snakes and the boogeyman.  Grandma hauled up two lounge chairs, the old fashion kind– spring bottoms with 4″ cushions.  The head was adjustable and they had arm rests; otherwise, they remind me of roll-away beds today.

There were two occasions for sleeping out on Grandma and Grandpa’s deck:  when it was simply too hot to sleep inside and when the nip in the air was just right for a quilt– cold enough that your nose was the only part that knew.  The weight of the quilt hugged me as I lay in the dark.  The dark.  Back then, Lafayette was far enough and small enough that it got really dark in the country.  Grandma and I would lay there and look for familiar constellations.  We’d gaze for steady planet glow amidst the flickering stars.  If we were lucky, we could see the hint of white the milky way spilt above us.  When I stared long and hard, I would question whether I witnessed a shooting star or whether it was just my eyes adjusting to a blink.

I wish I could recall our conversations.  I’m sure we had some good ones.  But it wasn’t silence I remember from those rooftop sleepovers either.  It was lying there.  Listening.  Listening for anything.  Sometimes the tree frogs were deafening and nothing else could be heard.  Other times, the crickets took over.  Rustling leaves provided the perfect amount of white noise to lull me to sleep fairly quick.  But it was the snap of  twigs, call of the hoot owl, or the howl of a distant coyote that would heighten my awareness that I was in their home.

(Thanks, Elizabeth, for encouraging us to tell our life stories.  As my memories fade, this is one that won’t be lost now that it is written down.)

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2 Responses to “Remembering”

  1. scottfilkins Says:

    Where to start with a response to such a wonderful piece? I’ll start with personal connection: The topic and telling of your memory reminded me so much of my childhood out on the Lake of Egypt in Southern Illinois. While I appreciate being so close to what the U of I has to offer here in C-U, I do kind of wish my son were growing up in a place like I got to, which like your childhood home, offered a wealth of (literally) natural things to do, all day, every day. From a writerly perspective, I noticed so many things. First, I can hear your voice as that question at the end of your first paragraph. Just perfect! I love that list in the second paragraph: coons, snakes, and the boogeyman. I always tell students to look at what interesting things an author does with a list…you’ve provided great example there. But I think my favorite moment is the image of “the weight of the quilt hugged me”–I think that just about says it all for that moment. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. rlindsay55 Says:

    Wow- what a nice story to read- I want to go sleep on Grandma’s deck, too! Great work, Wendy! I really felt like I could see the porch, the yard, and the woods out back. Of course, when we turn off the air conditioning and open our windows, we hear coyotes at our house. We live next to a field, and they are always running out there. It is a sound you never forget!


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