Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chest of Childhood

The memories of my childhood are locked away in a Chinese Carved Camphor Wood Chest that my father gave me many years ago.
I opened the chest and found the photos, letters and mementos that link me back to the days of my youth. Days when life was simpler, responsibilities were less and possibilities were endless.
I reached down and pulled out a photo of myself, my sister, Beth and my cousin Carol when we were children. We were all in swimsuits and resting our head and arms on the edge of a pool. The red bricks and roses in the background confirm that the picture was taken at the home my Grandparents owned when I was much younger. The home was two-story and in the backyard was the biggest pool this 6 year old had ever seen.
Every weekend during the summer of my childhood; at least according to a child; we would spend at my grandparent’s home, swimming in the pool with my aunts, uncles and cousins. We would swim all day and then for dinner, we would all dry off, find a stick and roast hot dogs over the brick fire pit. One hour later we would all be back in the pool playing “Marco Polo”. Once the sun was down, we would climb out of the pool one final time, get changed out of our swimsuits and roast marshmallows. Then we played board games in the converted garage, where all the kids were allowed to play so that we wouldn’t bug the adults late into the night.
The summers of my youth hold great memories. I’m grateful my camphor chest is with me, preserving my memories.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Bears Go For a Walk

Baby Bear looked out the window. “The sun is already up! Oh, no! I wanted to help Mama with breakfast this morning!”
He carefully climbed over his two older brothers and crept out to the kitchen. Mama was standing over the stove stirring something that smelled so good, my mouth started to water.
“Well good morning Baby Bear! Did you enjoy sleeping in today?” Mama asked.
“I’m sorry I didn’t wake up in time to help you Mama, I really wanted to.”
“That’s alright Baby Bear. I made something special for you this morning.” She said.
Mama had made porridge for breakfast! Baby Bear's favorite breakfast was porridge. Mama Bear always made it nice and creamy with juicy berries mixed in. But today there were NO berries in the porridge.
“Why don’t we have any berries today, Mama?”
“You boys ate ALL the berries last night,” said Mama. "If you want berries in your porridge, then you have to go pick them yourself!”
Baby Bear woke up his brothers, Brian Bear and Billy Bear, and they went for a walk in the forest to find some berries.
They couldn’t find any berries where they usually find them. So they went out to search farther into the forest.
As they were walking, they found a little house on the edge of the forest.
Baby Bear smelled something yummy and sweet cooking in the little house. And off he went, running inside the house to find out what the delicious smell was.
By the time Brian Bear and Billy Bear could reached him, Baby Bear already ate every pancake and was covered with a sticky syrup.
Brian Bear, being bossy as usual, scolded Baby Bear, “If Mama finds you all sticky, then we will ALL get in trouble.”
Brian Bear and Billy Bear took him upstairs to give him a bath. As they started to fill the bathtub, Baby Bear found some bubbles and dumped the whole bottle in the bathtub. The bubbles grew and grew until they spilled onto the floor.
“I want a rubber ducky for my bubble bath!”
Brian Bear looked around and found one sitting on a chair by the bathtub. “Here’s a ducky Baby Bear. Now get in that tub and clean up!”
But Baby Bear didn’t want to get in the tub and started running around the bathroom. Brian Bear and Billy Bear were chasing him when they both slipped in a big puddle on the floor and fell into the bathtub! Splash!
As Brian Bear and Billy Bear were trying to climb out of the bathtub, Baby Bear climbed out the window.
“You’ll never catch me now!” he screamed
“Now you’re going get it,” Brian Bear yell, “You are always causing us trouble!"
Brian Bear and Billy Bear quickly jumped out the bathroom window and started chasing Baby Bear. They finally caught him just as he was crossing the river.
Baby Bear was still sticky from the syrup. Brian Bear and Billy Bear picked him up and dunked him in the river. They splashed the cold water all over Baby Bear until he was cleaned off.
“We still have to find those berries,” said Billy Bear.
As they climbed out of the river, there they were! Along the river was dark green ivy covered with round, juicy red berries!
The three Bear brothers filled their hands with as many berries as they could carry and headed home.
When they got home Mama was waiting, “What took you so long to get those berries?”
“We took a "sticky" adventure walk to the river,” laughed Brian Bear.
Brian, Billy and Baby Bear shared a smile and began eating the porridge and berries with Mama Bear.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Swim Meet

The sun was reflecting off the water in the pool, causing my eyes to squint as I watched the judges. In front of me my four teammates lined up, preparing for the medley relay race. Each of us preparing to swim one leg of the relay, which is swum in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle order.
Susan jumped in the water along with our competitors. She got herself to the starting position to begin the backstroke leg of the relay. One of the judges walked by and checked all the swimmers in the pool to check that they all are in the down position and still. He was satisfied and signaled to start the race with a blow horn.
Susan arched back and kicked off the wall. She moved quickly, but the other teams were quicker by a stroke or two. Susan back-fliped as she reached the far wall and swam her way back to where we were waiting to take our turn in the relay.
Susan touched the wall and Kristy dove into the pool to began the breaststroke. She started off great, but just like Susan, she was behind the other teams. We were half a lap behind. “Go Kristy!” we call out! You could hear the crowd from our school calling out to Kristy as well. She did a somersault and kicked off the far wall to get back fast. Kristy touched the wall and Tasha leapt into the pool.
“Swim Tasha, swim!” came from the crowd. Tasha is the best butterfly swimmer we have on our team. She won most butterfly races. Tasha swam with all her might, and returned to where I was preparing for my turn. I could see that the other teams were almost done swimming the last leg of the race. I was getting more and more nervous as Tasha came closer to me. When she touched the wall, the other teams completed the medley relay race. Westside High School won.
It was my turn. If I did not dive in and swim the freestyle leg of the race our team would have been disqualified. I dove in. I was the only one in the pool! I swam one arm over the other. I could hear the crowd. They were probably congratulating the other teams. My stomach was turning. All I wanted to do was get out of the pool. As I flipped over to kick off and finish the lap the noise behind me escalated. Couldn’t they wait until I was out of the pool to celebrate?
I completed the lap and started to climb out of the pool. Everyone was watching me and started to cheer. “Wow, you were really fast, Margaret!” My face flushed. My focus was to get out of the pool and now I wanted to jump back in so that the crowd couldn't see me blush.
We did not win the race. I was confused when the judges called me over to the award stand. I received a ribbon for Most Spirited Player.
As the old cliché goes, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Last Tree Standing

As I awoke with the sun, I lengthened my roots out as far as I could reach. There are no other roots in the ground to compete with today.
I stretched my branches out to the tips. No other branches to knock into today.
The view to the ocean is stunning. There is nothing blocking my view today.
I gaze around the mountain and feel like I can see forever today.
My fellow trees were hauled away. The men came and chopped them down with their machines. I am the last tree standing in what was a majestic forest.
I want to share the joy I am feeling with my friends; but they are all gone now. There are none left to talk to.
I hear the men and their machines.
Today will be my last day on this mountain.
There will be no trees left in the forest today.