The Peach Stand

Sweat puddles and drips down to her seven-year-old feet

like the ice cream will soon do.

A sweltering Texas summer.

Grandpa grins through his cigar, proud of his summer income.

Peaches in boxes and sacks.

Peaches in crates

lined up on tables beneath his covered stand.

A pocketknife cuts off a slice of sweet fruit

and extends toward a willing customer.

Grandpa smiles again, pleased with the satisfaction on the consumer’s juiced face.

The ancient Black man, mouth empty of teeth, dismounts his horse.

Grandpa readies a fresh peach. “Afternoon, Washington.”

Washington nods, mumbles, shows his gums.

Grandpa adds another peach to his hand. “Take these for your ride to town.”

The man smacks his curved-in lips together,

up and down, up and down,

a toothless man’s “thank you.”

The walk-in cooler an instant relief.

But the bushels of peaches offer no jokes,

no grins,

no Grandpa conversations.

Outside, parched again, she accepts the quarter and returns Grandpa’s smile.

A short walk toward the small diner.

The lady in a pink uniform and matching hat says, “Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?”

“Strawberry.”

The ice cream, scooped. The cone, topped with a pink, cold delight.

Fifty steps back to the peach stand.

Fifty steps back to Grandpa.

The ice cream drips and threatens to disappear.

But the heat is no match for Grandpa’s disposition.

His smile and character remains solid, strong, and real.

Un-meltable.

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(photo of Grandpa taken in the early sixties)

 

 

 

 

Before Amber Alerts

She was told how fun it would be to watch the parade in small town Fredericksburg, Texas. “Exciting for a four-year-old.”

“Look at that float!” “Carolyn, do you see the clown?”

No. All she saw was the backsides of wiggly people in front of her. The tall, thin man’s suspenders holding up the back of his pants. Arms that pointed to the sky holding miniature American flags.

But she could see behind her – from the grassy field all the way up to the sky.

And there it was. Something she could lay eyes on. Something she found curious and exciting.

She let go of the hem of her grandmother’s, hand-sewn, polka-dot house dress and began to run.

How did he get up there?

Would the man hurt himself when landed?

She continued on, her eyes following the man’s decent from the sky.

The pokey grass would not deter her. Nor the buzzing of summer wasps around her head. The near collisions with jumping grasshoppers were not a distraction.

The man was getting closer.

Panting, yet familiar voices frantically called her name.

When her parents and sister caught up to her, Carolyn pointed to the man.

They were right.

Exciting for a four-year-old.

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Maybe Tomorrow

She chokes on the water and knows what she needs. A concession stand with vending machines.

A flimsy cup no bigger than the size of her small hand drops to the tray and is filled with soda, carbonated water, and ice. A Bruce’s fried pie (lemon or apple, please). An ice-cream sandwich melts instant chocolate on her fingers.

She musters up courage and waits in line for the high dive. Children chatter with excitement, with anticipation. But Sparky Carolyn stays quiet in her nervousness. Perhaps she’s not so sparky after all.

It’s her turn. She makes it up the tall ladder. Her toes rest on the end of the board.

She looks down. It’s a long way to the water.

“Hurry up!” Someone yells.

I’ll go down too far. I’ll run out of air on the way back up.

She backs up and returns to the ladder. Children sigh at having to move aside. She reaches the safety of the flat, hot concrete.

Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow.

Back in the safety of the three-feet depth, she rejoins her friends. She sips tea and eats crumpets under water like a queen. The three girls resurface and giggle at their immense creativity.

“Don’t worry. One day you’ll wake up to find they’ve grown.”

She looks at her friend, then down at her own flat chest.

Tomorrow. Maybe it will happen tomorrow.

 

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“Me” at Northwest Pool in Austin, Texas. (1950-60’s)

Dance Anyway

I just had a birthday

but they say it’s been a year

so I am here

standing strong

a thumbs up and a cheer.

 

Fifteen years ago, I wrote an entry in my journal about turning 45. Soon afterward, I copied the pages and turned it into a piece of art. I painted a journal (the image is flat) then made it three-dimensional by coating a separate piece of card stock with gesso. I glued it so it would protrude from the canvas.

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In the original journal, I wrote how, inside, I was the same person who played guitar at sunsets, had intimate conversations with perfect strangers, and questioned everything about life.

Today, I have more answers. But I will always question.

 

What I positively know to be true is this–a line from a song:

 

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

I have seen His/Her face many times.

And for that, I am forever grateful.

 

And, as my 28 year-old son once said at the age of two,

“It’s not time to go home. It’s time to dance!”

And he said this when no music was playing. A lesson to live by.

 

A Raisin of Serendipitous Learning

When she told me NOT to throw away the moldy orange, I questioned her sanity.

Why in the world would we want to keep this tainted fruit within arms reach of four-year-old children? And why would I, the 24 year-old teacher with a degree in Early Childhood, listen to my 56 year-old assistant teacher with no formal education?

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“Because,” she’d said, “It is a learning experience, a teachable moment. It’s science.

I was awestruck.

That is why “Vivian” and I worked so well together. I taught her how to implement bias-free education in our classroom. She taught me that hoarding can lead to serendipitous learning and creativity.

Today, over 20 years later and still a hoarder, I was reminded of my friend, Vivian, when I cleaned out the trunk of my car. Behind the boxing bag, a ton of smelly hand wraps, and a couple of sweaters, I found something which must have fallen out of my grocery bag months ago.

I’ll give you a hint. They used to be grapes. But now …

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I hear Vivian’s voice in my head saying, “Don’t throw it away! Show your grandchildren.”

And so, I will.

Wherever you are today, Vivian, THANK YOU for one of many teachable moments!

 

 

photo credit

 

 

 

Empty Lies a Crowded Room

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Twas’ too soon for me to go

an empty vessel still in tow

the darkness loomed, but glowed, that room

the crowd all dapper-dressed.

The iron box of elevation

took us to that destination

the couple smiles, no hesitation

“Congrats on baby quest.”

“Guess it’s not to be,” repeated

words I’d learn, still felt defeated

empty arms I had conceded

A promised heart betrayed of grants

Glasses clinking, lighting winking

champagne fountains made for drinking

my soul betrayed continued sinking

yet how the people danced.

Oh, how those people danced.

 

 

photo credit

 

I’ll tell you but nobody else

A month ago, I didn’t have to read the fast-food menu.

I already knew what my husband wanted.

I prepared myself to say “a four piece chicken basket, please.”

I pulled up to the speaker.

Why wasn’t Microphone Person saying, “Welcome to Wally’s. May I take your order?” ??

Instead, no one said anything. Not even a snarky, “what would you like?”

“Hello,” I said. “Hello?”

That’s when I realized my mistake.

Had anyone watched me talk into the trash receptacle?

Last Sunday, on the fast food run, I decided not to make the same mistake. Instead, I chuckled and snapped this photo as a reminder.

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Of course the world teases and laughs at us at times. How else would Mother Earth spin?

 

What blissful effort looks like

On the first day of vacation, I rented this beaut. Her gears were limited but her determination was great.

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Her basket remained empty, the backpack strapped to my body. Together, “Townie” and I headed up.

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I stopped a few times to dismount and push Townie upward.

Sometimes, I would stop to take pictures (like this one) …

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to remind me how far I had traveled away from town.

Once, I stopped to take a flower-selfie:

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I continued my climb.

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When I reached my goal, there was nothing left to do but zip down, view the geese in the wetlands …

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and park my bike at the Corner in front of the rental store.

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It was time to say goodbye to the basket with the invisible Toto, and to the bike itself.

With three clicks of my heels, the week had passed. Home was waiting.

 

Weekly photo prompt: Corner