I looked around at everyone seated at our kitchen table. Normally crowded with the nine members of our family, today we were wedged together like sardines with our guests. The chicken Mom had made was so tender that it fell off the bones and melted in my mouth. Mashed potatoes, rich with butter and tender green beans kept me busy and quiet. Finishing the last bite, I considered licking my plate, but somehow knew Mom wouldn’t like that. It was hard being eight years old, the youngest of a large family.
Earlier in the week Mom had said, “It’s my brother Bushwa’s birthday on Sunday. I’ll make sure he and Augie come for dinner. They don’t know that our sister Tressie and Art will be here, too. I’m going to make a very special meal with a birthday cake for dessert.”
Excited, I thought about what Mom had said. Bushwa and Augie were bachelor uncles who dropped by for weekly visits and a meal. Tressie was my aunt whom I loved. Art was her husband. I was a little afraid of him. He had white hair and a florid face, especially when he talked politics. They lived in far northern Wisconsin, so we didn’t see them often. Continue reading
My big sisters slammed the back door as they left the house. To hurry me along, Mom said, “Put your scarf on and go…Daddy’s waiting in the car.” I pulled a small purple nylon wisp of material from my coat pocket, folded it diagonally and put it over my head and tied a small knot under my chin. Pushing my glasses further up onto the bridge of my nose, I ran out of our farmhouse, slamming the door behind me.
The air felt sharp that February morning, as sharp as any of the January mornings the previous month, but something seemed different. I couldn’t place what it was. A bird sang as I clambered into the family car. The sound made me pause. It was not one that I’d heard since last fall. As cold as it was, some of the summer birds were returning!
There was a hole in our green Dodge’s floor boards behind the driver’s seat. As Daddy drove through the yard to the road, I instinctively put my foot over the hole as we approached a big mud puddle. Instead of a splash against the bottom of my foot like happened after school yesterday, we heard the sound of shattering glass. I loved the sound. During first recess at school, my friends and I would go all over the playground and break the panels of ice that covered each puddle. Continue reading