Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday Scribbling on Monday


The evening games had been called for the night. The darkness was not the reason. There were plenty of good games you could play in the dark. Kick the can, hide and seek. They were almost better at night. Really, the best time was dusk. It was light enough to see the best hiding spots, but the gray-blue evening sky would help to hide you from the searcher’s eyes. One of my favorite hiding places worked best when it was dusk. It was one of my old stand-bys, the one I used when I really didn’t want to get caught. The loose hedge of bushy-bushes between the Mitchell’s and the house next door to them offered the perfect hiding place; the perfect size for my wiry 7-year old body. Through the loose branches covered thick with leaves, I could disappear from sight but still see the goings on of the game. I had to be careful though – if you used the good hiding places too often, the bigger kids would find out about them and take them over. I always waited until the other kids had all gone to the man-hole cover in the culdesac to come out of that spot. A good hiding spot in our neighborhood was like gold and I was going to protect mine as long as I could.

Tonight we had been playing kickball in the early evening. Choosing teams and marking the bases with scraps of cardboard. Later in the evening the parents joined the playful games. Mr. Kelley rolled out the volleyball posts secured in truck tires filled with cement and tied the net at each side. The adults began a rousing game of volleyball while the kids sat on sidewalks drinking cokes and eating popsicles to reject the effects of the heavy, humid evening air. We became cheerleaders – hollering and hooting at the saves and spikes that our parents showed off. It was so much fun, I looked up to the night sky to find a star. I wanted to throw up a wish that every night could be like this.

Looking up, there were no stars in the sky. Instead, dark clouds filled with heat and moisture decided to answer me instead. Low rumbles began to fill the air and as the parents paused the game for a water break, flashes of lightning danced in the distance. The magical spell was broken and quickly, the parents moved out of “play” mode and into “protect”. The net was quickly taken down and the volleyball posts returned to Mr. Kelly’s garage. A few more quick words between kids and parents as the rumbling grew louder and impatient and zig-zags of light were seen in the sky. Kids were whisked inside and the games for the night were over. I begged my dad to watch the storm with me. Together we sat in the garage with the door open and the lights off, watching the fierce mid-west summer storm make its way through our tiny suburb. Pounding rain, thunder and cracks of lightning were so loud, glass bottles in our garage were shaking. But I wasn’t afraid. I thought the storm was so beautiful – powerful – incredible. As a child, I couldn’t fully understand the danger, but I could grasp the power. It was as if God was giving us a fireworks display of nature to end our party.

The storm passed, and I eventually went to bed, but I never forgot that night. The incredible joy of the impromptu neighborhood party and the unexpected storm that changed our plans – that picture has played out in many ways throughout my life. Both times have so much to teach us - I wouldn’t want to give up either.

10 comments:

Alexandra G said...

Oh I loved that! A memory that stays so vividly in mind years and years later. I love how we don't always know which ones will have that lasting impact until down the road. I remember whenever there was lightning our little Maltese doggies would be so terrified and refuse to leave our laps for hours! There was something so tangible about this post-wonderful writing!

gkgirl said...

that photo gave me shivers...
and i love how you captured
that childlike wonder-feeling
of a show being put on for you
rather than the danger possible...

this coming from someone who
was notoriously terrified
of weather as a child...
any kind of weather...
wind, rain, snow, tornadoes, lightning...
heehee

Brad said...

Lovely image of a neighborhood! It takes a Village!

Thanks for connecting me to my memmories. You remind me of my beautiful wife who so patiently reminds me of my calendar dates and meetings.

Laini said...

It's funny how much memory can come back as soon as you start stringing a few sensory details together. Reading this, I was visualizing the cul de sac in Virginia Beach where I lived from 5 to 9, because this was exactly what our summer evenings were like, hide n seek and a backwards version of it called "sardines" where the person who was "it" hid and the goal was to find them and hide with them and the loser was the last one to group-hide! I remember hiding in the bushes, the good hiding places, the amazing wealth of hiding places in all the yards that flowed into each other. Also, thunder storms all summer! Thanks for triggering memories of my own!

GreenishLady said...

I found this post very evocative. Beautifully written. It contains reminders of things I'd forgotten. Those games reserved for a time of year (autumn, coming towards Hallowe'en) when it might still be early enough to be outdoors, but dark enough to be scary. The games included Tip the Cannie (which has to be a version of Kick the Can, I suppose?), and Jackie Show Light. Thanks for the memories!

paris parfait said...

Great story! Well done! Reminded me of some long-forgotten neighborhood games and times catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar, expecting them to light up the darkness of my bedroom.

paris parfait said...

Great story! Well done! Reminded me of some long-forgotten neighborhood games and times catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar, expecting them to light up the darkness of my bedroom.

Left-handed Trees... said...

I loved this post--there really was nothing that could "call games for the night" except for severe weather! Lightning as "a fireworks display of nature"--that is a great line.

HoBess said...

I'm so glad to have found you thanks to Sunday Scribblings. Thanks for stopping by my blog. You know, even before you said it your writing was yelling at me: This Oregonian grew up in the Midwest! Then you confirmed my suspicions. Beautiful description of a Midwestern summer night. You'll be glad to know we've had one or two similar to this, impromptu cul-de-sac parties have not gone the way of the way of the dodo. Off to explore your blog!

Cate said...

I was there! Your memories (and your writing) are magnificent!