Sometimes I find the time to look over old photographs. Like today in bed. This particular photograph of my sister and I in the front ‘garden’ of our childhood home always evokes a memory so vivid that I can even recall who photographed us (my mother) and what she was wearing (a cream colored dress with a brown belt) . (Apologies for the teeny tiny poor quality photo but this was taken back in the Jurassic Age)
I remember every other detail of that day from the smell of Sunday roast (across the street) to the increasing pressure and electric charge in the air as towers of broiling cumulonimbus clouds spread across that afternoon sky. I became an avid cloud watcher from the moment I learned about the different cloud formations; altocumulus, cirrus, nimbostratus (don’t you love those words?)…I remember playing ‘weather girl’ to my sister’s ‘news anchor’.
I can’t remember the last time I kicked off my shoes and lay flat on my back on grass that both tickles and scratches to watch clouds. Do you?
I know my boys still teenagers, have not cloud-watched in years. And that saddens me. When did we stop looking for meaning in marshmallow clouds? And why? I didn’t need a major in Psychology back then to know that the shapes you see hold meaning. Even then my sister saw more pairs of shoes than any person should. I remember wondering about that.
For some reason my mother never took photos of us in the backyard. Pity really because the backyard was the real deal: an actual garden with trees and flower beds and a super large sandbox (a filled-with-dirt pool). In our backyard there were two trees whose branches grappled and snatched at each other like angry lovers: a smooth-barked fig tree and an ancient apricot tree. I lived in and under the shadows of those trees more out of necessity than anything else. I grew up in Africa where for most of the year it is so hot and dry that shade is a commodity, like water.
I remember our dogs: Rover and Rocky (does this give my age away?). I remember our cat, Napoleon. I remember the cage of noisy blue, green and yellow budgerigars on the porch. I remember reading about secret tunnels and smugglers’ coves while lying on a tree limb under flat, broad fig leaves. Lying here today feeling sorry for myself, I wish my bed would float out the window and over the garden covered at this time of year by russet leaves and into the limbs of the tall cedars that fringe this property so I could keep on reading outdoors like I did as a child.