Sunday, March 4, 2012
When I was about ten we lived on the Kennebec road in Hampden, in a little green house. My Dad was raising chickens then and had close to one hundred of them. If people on the outside could have seen me at times, I am sure they would have thought me to be a lunatic child. It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I am an animal lover and I was building quite a little menagerie if I do say so myself. I had some little white mice that I brought home from one of my visits to the island. A woman there raised them for Jackson Lab for experimentation. I convinced my Uncle that I was saving six of them from sure pain and potential death. He agreed I could have them as long as I got permission from my parents. They agreed. I was all for saving something. I had a Blue Jay that got caught in the shed trying to steal chicken grain but realized with in a day or so that he could not be kept and must be set free, much to my dismay. I had one special chicken out of the one hundred that had a bum leg, his name was Blackie and I carried him around the yard with me because I knew it was hard for him to walk…hey what can I can say…he needed me!
We also had a beautiful female German Shepherd named Princess.
I remember one year, my Fathers garden was doing great all except for the Cucumbers. I watched him come home every night and go straight to the garden and look at the crops and each night he would come into the house and complain that the cukes just didn’t seem to be doing that good. We were not allowed in the garden, but one day I decided to sneak a look, and all I saw were little bitty cucumbers. I had been playing in the field between our house and the neighbors earlier that day and saw that they had big green Cucumbers on their vines. I wanted my Dad to have big Cucumbers too! And I knew if he came home and saw that the Cukes had grown he would be happy. Together Princess and I walked up the slight incline of the field; stopping at the edge of the neighbor’s garden…I looked around, and picked two of the longest Cucumbers I could find and brought them home. I placed them strategically among my fathers Cucumber vines.” Now all we have to do is wait Princess,” I said.” Dad is going to be so happy!” I could hardly contain my excitement until Dad got home. After what seemed like forever Dad arrived home from work, only this night he did not check the garden. Another day, trying to contain myself. On the second night dad went straight to the garden. With me watching him from the kitchen window, up and down the rows he went, when he reached the Cucumbers he squatted down and stood back up holding two big beautiful Cucumbers in one hand…But, wait…He didn’t look happy. In fact he looked very, very mad and somewhat confused. When he brought them into the kitchen he raised his left eyebrow high and said,” Where did these come from?” I began to wail like a child in mourning and told him what I did, and the reason why. I could see he was touched by my wanting to please him, but he knew there was a lesson in this that I had to learn. I mean really! Cucumbers eight inches long when his were only an inch or two and they weren’t even hooked to the vine! “C’mon!” he said.” Let’s go!” Up to the neighbors we went. I had to tell the nice neighbor lady that I was a thief and apologize. I was grounded for two weeks, and I felt like a fool, but it was a good lesson learned. You don’t take that which doesn’t belong to you even if you think someone needs it more.
I grow my own garden now and I never pick a cucumber without thinking of the,” Cucumber Caper.”
Friday, March 2, 2012
I grew up spending part of my summer vacation and other school vacations with my Aunt and Uncle in North East Harbor on Mt Dessert Island in Maine. A quaint little Island community, where life was slow and easy in the winter until the, “Summer People” arrived.
My Uncle did outside repairs, got cars ready for the summer, (spit shined to a high gloss) and picked the Summer People up from the airport when they arrived. My Aunt cleaned their Mansions and got linens ready for their arrival. I was blessed to be able to see all these places first hand and play in them while Auntie readied them for summer. I remember pretending I was rich and she was working for me. I was every beautiful rich star I could think of. Some of the summer homes were so big I could actually lose myself in them. I would call to my Aunt and when she responded, I followed her voice to find my way back to her.
Each summer I was taken,” Down Street” to one of the high end clothing stores where my Aunt purchased a full ensemble for me ,head to toe…
I remember a time when I got into a bit of a quandary. My Uncle had taken me to the dock many times where he had a little skiff tied up. He would row me out into the bay and we would have our lunch out there as we watched the boats come in and leave. I asked several times if I could row the boat,” Not this time, you’re hardly strong enough to handle it yet,” he would say. What I heard was a challenge. I didn’t have to prove anything to him but I had to prove it to myself.
I had a friend named Diana who lived a few houses down and asked Aunt Doris if I could go and play for a couple of hours.” Yes,” she said,” But don’t go anywhere else.” I won’t!” I exclaimed. As soon as I was out of her sight, I headed for the docks. I sauntered up to the skiff, untied it and jumped in; I took the oars like I knew what I was doing. It was my luck that there were not too many boats moored there that day and I rowed out into the bay with ease. I made a few tiny circles, my arms felt like jello! I sat there for a bit to rest and realized I had just passed two boats that were moored. I had no inkling that when I took the skiff…The tide was going out, and me along with it! I knew I had to muster everything I had in my little body to get this boat back to the dock! I could see a man standing on his sailboat watching me and I could see the concern cross his face. I rowed with everything I had but I wasn’t making any progress. If anything…I was losing ground. I was bawling like a newborn baby and I just couldn’t row anymore as the boat slipped further out into the bay. Is that a motor I hear? Up beside me in a boat comes the man from the sailboat. With tears running down my cheeks and the hiccups to boot, I look into his eyes with a,” Please Save Me,” look. He nods with a slight smile, takes the rope on the front of the skiff in his hands and tows me back to the dock. I tie the Skiff up and as I look back at him he leaves with a wave of his hand and returns to his sailboat. That man potentially saved my life. I never said a word to anyone about my adventure; I knew the price I would have to pay would be too big. I learned that day that I didn’t have to prove anything to anybody not even myself and that it is ok to be weak, we are all weak…until we become strong.