The Gardens - In the Beginning

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Antics in the Attic

I'm sorry...I don't have an attic.  Always wished for one, but wishes and reality never collided...I didn't have that bit of magic to make my world the way I chose, except perhaps those few years I borrowed the neighbors attic.  It was actually a third floor, the regular stairs led to it, but it had the peak-of-roof walls and windows protruding through the eaves.  It was a storage area, so an attic it was.

I remember closets and trunks full of very old clothes...long dresses, hats, gloves...I played dress up with my friend who was a bit older than me.  For those few years when the age difference didn't matter, we were tight as sisters, and dressing in that late 1800's early 1900's finery was pure pleasure.  We could make-believe we were anyone anywhere we chose to be, but my friend grew up and left me behind for escapades with girls more her own age.

I palled around with my nine month younger brother for a few years when being with one's own sister wasn't an experience worse than death.  I commanded quite a bit of power over his conscience leading him on adventure after adventure of an unrealistic nature.  It's a wonder he made it to adulthood in one piece and still able to think.

One of our vacations to see dad's parents, out in the farming countryside of Fresno, we were given permission to hike to the little mom and pop corner grocery store perhaps half a mile down the road.  At that intersection we could see the tall buildings of the big city in front of us just off into the distance.  I wanted to go there.  I always had that kind of curiosity that in some stories definitely killed the cat.

We walked and walked and walked.  Come on, brother, it's just a little ways longer, see how close it looks.  We walked and walked and walked and walked and walked.  What! was beside us in the car telling us to get in and taking us back to grandma and grandpa.  We walked quite a few miles, and I was told looks are deceiving...our enticing downtown buildings calling my name were tens and tens of miles away.  My first lesson in depth perception...too bad it didn't stick.

Brother hadn't learned his lesson yet, and we were hiking just outside town on our way up to the "H".  Back in those days we hiked all over the place by ourselves in that small town of Hawthorne.  The "H" was a hill off to the west, past the garbage dump, and part of the foothills at the base of Mount Grant.  Incoming high school freshmen were marched up there each year to refresh that coat of white paint on those huge rocks spelling out that initial for the town we grew up in.  It could be seen from the highway or air, and that was a pretty big deal to everyone who lived in that hole-in-the-road town that sprung up around a train depot in the 1800's in the middle of the desert.

My brother had asthma growing up, and he was wheezing fairly regularly at that point on the long assent up that winding dirt road.  I still feel a bit guilty about that obsession...I didn't want to give up, it seemed such a short trip when mom drove us to the dump site.  I didn't want the failure of not reaching the prize.  We did make our way to those painted rocks that didn't seem so exciting as we sat down to calm our breathing.  It hadn't occurred to us until then that we weren't going to be air lifted off that hill.  We would have to make the hike back.  We survived, but never divulged any of that experience to mom and dad.  Even though the hike didn't kill us they probably would have.

Well...we were hiking again...isn't it wonderful that there is a brief age when brothers actually listen to their bigger sisters?  We had hiked past the hospital that was a short distance outside of town, and eventually made our way to ice canyon.  You know, when I say hiking, we weren't puny little runts in those days, when we hiked...WE HIKED.  Five miles was just five miles.  Ice canyon...a narrow canyon mostly of rock with a waterfall up it a ways, and its mouth opening up to a patch of willows in the small wet was a sheet of ice in the winter months of freezing weather.

That canyon that tried to kill me once when I was trying to go back down the waterfall, and would have flown right off the edge into the hereafter if I hadn't managed to wedge my heel into a depression of the rock to stop my acceleration.  That canyon that I always went back to for more punishment, although I did acquire an instant fear of heights that I have never been able to throw off after the waterfall incident, and I could never force myself up that suicidal sheet of smooth rock again.

We were leaving the canyon, walking that long span of ranch land with no fences, open range, when we happened to look back and were surprised by a single long line of cattle, maybe fifty of those little hefties, side by side, behind us.  Ooookay...we turned around, thinking how odd, and walked a ways further.  We looked back and were alarmed that line of cattle was a little bit closer to us.  We started walking backwards, and as we moved the line of cattle moved.  Spooky.  We started walking fast and the cattle picked up their pace to keep up with us.  We were really freaking out by now, but we reasoned that we didn't want to run.  Once those docile looking monsters started running we were worried they might not stop, and then we would be range pizza so to speak when they trampled us flat as a pancake.

The hospital became their magic boundary line, and we were able to stop feeling like convicts on the run.  It was eagerly agreed between us that no way should we ever let anyone know a herd of dumb baby faced steak on legs bullied us for all those miles home.  Around this time brother was beginning to realize that his sister was...well...his sister...yuck!  He was growing up, and soon deserted me for big guy stuff with manly man classmates.  Alone again, I was on a quest for another pal, preferably one that didn't ask too many questions before following me off the face of the earth.


  1. I remember once daring my brother (3 years younger) to jump off our garage roof into the pool. Of course, my mom wasn't home. Alas, she happened to pull into the driveway just as he made his leap and she caught him in midair. Of course, I tattled on him and he got in trouble. I must still have residual guilt feelings. Wish I could join the party! Sounds like a good time will be had by all!

  2. I never knew there was a time when Brothers listened to Sisters? You learn something new everyday don't you?

    ps. Admittedly it comes with a small amount of possibly rude critique (I really don't know why I think I can do these things) but you should know that I accidentally gave you an award - do with it what you will....

  3. Autumn Leaves - I think we all have these stories we could tell about our childhood. Kids can always be such stinkers :)

    Glen - Have you been drinking again?

  4. We had very similar childhoods!


    p.s. Andee looks very much like my little Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys). What a beautiful cat!

  5. I remember walking up this huge hill with a friend of mine when I was younger. It totally sucked walking back down.


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