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.)