Friday, June 29, 2012

Under the Dumb Plum Tree

Grandson Laurie and granddaughter Lace
Summer Memories
by Jaime Kaufhold
(June 1991)

Summer is upon us once more. The flowers and vegetables are planted in the garden and now all they have to do is grow. It may be a hot one this year.

The blossoms on the plum tree were beautiful as always, their fragrance "whiffing" in through the window. This year I'll have a bountiful crop, but what will I do with all the fruit? Plum jam and I suppose the birds will feast on the rest.

It's time to relax under my tree until the grandchildren arrive for Grandma to "sit" on.
In all the years I've been here, this is the first time I've truly noticed the yard. Gone are the holes, brown spots and weeds. The lawn is lush (with no bike tracks) and the flower bed is carefully manicured. The glorious blaze of roses are in full bloom, much earlier this year than usual. The rain sure has helped.

I remember how my girls waited patiently, hoping so much that the roses would be in bloom before the last day of school. How lucky their teachers were when the weather cooperated. Some years the girls were disappointed, but they wouldn't have been this year. I think I will ask the little girl next door if she'd like a bunch for her teacher.

Although the bicycles, swing set and toys are gone the memories are still here. The laughter is still vivid and if I close my eyes I can see my children and their friends splashing in the pool. I can smell the mountains of peanut butter and jam sandwiches and gallons of Kool-aid waiting in the hot sun.
Summer was always a lot of work but I certainly enjoyed it. I admit there were times I wanted to run away from it all, but instead I'd grab a glass of Kool-aid and find myself under my tree.

Family yards are messy yards. Just across the road, Mrs. Kraftchek's yard was beautiful and my oldest daughter would ask why ours wasn't like that. She didn't have children, I'd say. And each year I've done a little bit more to repair the damage  by planting grass where the pool once stood, cover the sandbox hole, fill in the deep crevices that were imaginary roads and tunnels. Dare I plant grass at the far end of the garden where our cat of 13 years lies buried?

As they years went by, time healed much of it. The only constant is the swing which now hangs lazily from the sturdiest branch of my tree.

My little granddaughter Lace loves the yard. She smells the flowers and gently touches them but will not pick without permission. I know she wants to badly so the occasional bouquet for mom or grandpa comes into the house in those fat little hands. She has finally learned how to swing herself and I wish I could read her thoughts as she plays alone in the grass.  I hope she is thinking that Grandma's yard is a place to come when she begins to feel the pressure of growing up. I hope she will know she can always find comfort here and always be safe.

Well, it's time to go. A car has just pulled in and its time to be Grandma again. The dog is excited even though she is getting old herself. She loves them because they play ball.

I have a meal planned that they all love and that's because I told them there is ketchup in it. I'll serve a salad but I already know they won't eat it. It's taken me many years to figure out why and that's because it has green stuff in it.


  1. Many times I sit in my own backyard thinking the same things as mom did many years ago. This summer, with the drought here in Niagara, we have crevices that are approximately 3 inches wide in our backyard. I recall a time when Lace, Kassarah, Emma and Alicia were crouched down and huddled together on the grass focused on a "game we made up ourselves". Their hysterical laughter alternated with intense concentration so obviously the "mom radar" sounded off in my head to go check it out. As I approached I noticed they were each taking turns dropping something down the crevice, each waiting to see a result of their effort. It wasn't until I heard the "clink clink" of a piggy bank being emptied that I asked "watcha doin?"....
    "Look mummie, we made up a game...We take these and drop them down to see who's goes farthest"
    My reply- "Good job- could we start using the brown ones?"
    They were innocently dropping quarters down the cracks. They were too young to realize how much they just lost, but I figured when I see a hole in the backyard in a couple of years they probably figured it out.
    I realize now why mom told such great stories. It was because she loved us so much. I realize now that the time after the kids grow up is a lonely time. She wrote these great stories because it helped her pass the time until she could re-live the fun times she had with us...with her grandchildren. What I would do to hear her tell one more story.

  2. Hi Nance,
    What I find so poignant about re-running Mom's stories is that 20 years ago when I first printed them in the Echo, I had no idea how much it meant to her to see her work in print, nor did I realize how much it would mean to us now. The longer we live the more "full circle" moments we experience, the best gift aging provides. It gives a bit of explanation to the saying, "everything happens for a reason."