Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Room with a View

For most of my childhood, this was the view from my bedroom window. A second story bedroom in a house in the suburbs of St. Paul. This is how it looks now. Little has changed since 1978 when we moved into the house by Bald Eagle Lake.

The large green ash tree on the left was planted as a small sapling by my grandfather in 1974, when my parents first bought the empty lot. I remember when our driveway was being paved, but before the asphalt had been laid, my older sister held a treasure hunt for me. She wrapped up a few porcelain statues and hid them in the deep gravel layer spread for the driveway. I still have the little china doll and dog I found that day. Now I wonder how she kept me from stepping on them while searching through the rocks.

The pine tree on the left is one my little sister planted when she was in elementary school. On arbor day she brought home a pathetic little seedling tree, and Dad planted it in the front yard, not really expecting it to survive. But it did. Now Dad puts Christmas lights on its branches, and next to it stands a wooden snowman for the holidays.

My long-term memory isn't very good, but there are some bits and pieces tucked away in the dark reaches of my mind. When I was younger I used to crack rocks open with a hammer on the front walkway, hoping to find crystals inside. I remember peddling a little toy fire engine around the top of our driveway. When I was older I learned to ride a bike on the road out front. On hot days we couldn't use the kickstand on the driveway, when it would sink down into the hot tar.

I used to look for small agates in the dirt road in front of our house. I played in the rivers of rainwater washing along the side of the road, building dams and bridges and mud pools for my toys. I planted daisies for my mother one year next to the mail box. We picked lilacs every spring from the bushes that bordered the neighbor's yard.

I spent a lot of time looking through this window as a child. Usually this was when I was supposed to be asleep in bed, or supposed to be cleaning my room, or supposed to be doing homework. When I opened the window I could hear the red wing blackbirds calling, or hear the hum of lawnmowers. I could smell the newly cut grass and the smoke from the fireplace.

Every time I visit my parent's house now, I go up to my old room and look through this window again. It's been nearly twenty years since I moved away from my parents' house, since I moved out of this room. But the view is the same, and I can look through this window with the same child's eyes.


Karen said...

I don't remember burying stuff under the gravel of the driveway!!! And I am sure that you were looking out your bedroom window when you were supposed to be cleaning your room! Mom and Dad paid me 25 cents to clean it!!!

Jo said...

Hey, 25 cents was a good wage back then. Besides, you deserved the forced labor for all the trauma you caused me as a kid. I am still reeling from the time you 'allowed' me to play barbies with you, but you only let me play with the one ugly barbie in the ratty clothes. Then you held the barbie beauty contest, judged by you. Which you won.

Remind me next time we are at M&D's and I will show you the china doll and the dog. I think it is still stored in a box there.

Kathy said...

No one ever hid little toys for me when I was a child... *sigh*

Jo said...

We hid your toys from you all the time. We just never told you where they were. Ha ha ha. Still love your older sister, right???