Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sharing a Piece of Writing - The Cottage

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Today's piece of writing:

My small, bare feet welcome the cool, green grass like an old friend, and I race down the path to the garden shed out back. The door opens with the slow creak of rusty hinges, and the aged, wooden floorboards groan with each small step. My eyes adjust to the long-held darkness and encircle the room. Once inside, the warm dusty smell of last summer's heat surrounds me.

Each year the fresh, early summer breezes and the warming sun bring us here to the small cottage near the lake. The peeled and crackled paint of the cottage walls and the familiar cracks in the sidewalk bring back memories like the pages of a well-worn scrapbook. We greet each summer day with the laughter and the love we bring to this land by the shore - my mother and father, my sisters and brother, my grandmother and grandfather. We weave together the summers past with the thread of each new day. For here, in this small place beneath the wide-open blue sky, our cherished memories begin.

The peaceful hush within the shed is broken by the rattle and the rhythm of the seed packets I have brought along. I reach for the shovels, rakes. and hoes lined up like soldiers along the far wall, and awaken them from their winter rest. I brush the silken cobwebs from the watering cans and hoses. The fresh, summer air dances with the warm, earth smell of last summer.

Behind the shed, I can hear my father and grandfather bring back to life the old, red tractor. Its rumble and roar break the silence and awaken the creatures who have claimed the land their own in our absence. The tractor pulls the plow that nudges the earth laid to rest under the cold snows of last winter. They take me for a ride atop the mighty machine wrapped in my father's arms and warmth of our memories.

Each summer, we mingle our lives with the earth and the rain and the sun. There is work to be done. With hoes, rakes and the bare skin of our hands we scratch the earth. My grandmother plants row upon row of tiny bulbs that will become her tall, majestic gladiolas. She carefully rests each bulb in the warm earth and covers it with the soil loosened between her wrinkled hands. My mother directs us with thoughtful words - always patient, always kind. We plant green beans, peppers and cucumbers. We finish our work with the smell of the earth on our hands and entangled in our clothes. The earth becomes a part of us etching into our lives the miracles of growth.

The earth and the rain and the sun play in perfect harmony their song of change and growth and new beginnings. A darkened sky and the first few drops of cooling rain momentarily stop us. My work delayed, I look to the sky and feel the cool, wet drops of the rain on my cheeks. In a hush, I can hear the tapping of the rain on the earth around my feet and smell the wet, steaming earth. The grownups run for shelter but my heart comes alive with the pleasure of bare feet in the wet grass and a cool, soothing shower. I run through the fields of grass and dance to the rhythm of the raindrops.

Each summer when we begin anew, the sun warms my bones still aching with the cold of last winter. As the sun rises high above, my skin turns a golden tan and my shadow glides beside me. Late in the summer's afternoon sun we hike out into the woods to pick raspberries. One berry in the tin and one berry to my lips. I return with my fingers painted red and give the berries to my grandmother. She will bless us later with a steaming pie like only she could make.

Each evening the sun's decent paints the early, evening sky with the pinks and lavenders of a summer sunset and brings me home to the cottage doorstep. We gather to talk and laugh and sing. There is something to be learned from this land. The old teach the young showing us the ways of the earth and the glory of hard work. The land brings to us its ever-changing, every-promising new beginnings.

Years have passed and I no longer visit the summer place by the lake except when the warm sun and the fresh early summer breezes take me on a journey to yesterdays and beyond. Now I spend my days here in the country with my husband, my son, and my daughter. Each new day leads us on a journey into the heart. I treasure the days when I can smell the earth in my hands, when I can delight in the cooling rain, and feel the warmth of the sun. My family, the wide-open blue sky, the country quiet and my garden bring me every-promising new beginnings and the cherished memories we create together.