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FOREVER SUMMER
This house exists now only as a mind picture. I haven't been there since I was a teenager and my childhood memories are more romantic than reliable.

My father's father died when I was 5, and I don't remember him physically at all. I have his eyes, though; my genes remember. He was a doctor and he and my grandmother lived in a beautiful ranch-style home in Northfield, one of Chicago's aristocratic north side suburbs. This meant nothing to me as a child, since snobbiness wasn't my own family's style. My grandmother lived on in the house for years after her husband's death, and that house formed several of the impressions of what I still seem to have in my head as "dream house."

The house was back in a quiet, private, wooded area, and white-painted stones lined the edges of the road. There was a wide circular drive and in the circle were 3 or 4 towering trees. Pachysandra filled the edged and perfectly manicured gardens. There were always popsicles in the big old freezer out in the garage. The garden behind the house, which was only reachable through an ivy-covered wooden door on either end of the house, was long and skinny and groomed, twined with ivy and ground cover, willows, hidden fountains and flowers showing to best advantage. Pussywillows seemed to be always in season. The patio had luxurious sun-lounging furniture with overstuffed cushions and curlique ironwork tables, some with mosaic tile tops. Cardinals and blue jays sang and swung in the treetops. Squirrels scampered up and scolded us from the safety of the higher branches.

There was a trap door on the ceiling inside the kitchen entrance that led up to a treasure-attic. The kitchen was low-ceilinged and had a long counter with stools. Ahead, the family room was brick and stone and giant copper plates engraved with arabian arabesques hung above the mantels. Here was a comfy couch, the TV, my grandmother's desk, bookshelves and a huge rug for playing on. Oil paintings of pine trees, twisted oaks, my great-grandfather and my father as a red-headed freckled boy in thick gold-peeling frames hung from the walls. A vase of tall pussywillows towered in one corner.

The rooms marched down the length of the house, a long hallway connecting them. Next to the family room was the formal dining room, next to that the formal living room, lined with windows overlooking the garden, and full of shiny, slippery satin furniture that we weren't allowed to sit on and beautiful objects that we could admire only with our hands behinds our backs. There was a main entrance opposite, which we never used, being muddy and boisterous grandchildren.

Then came the bedrooms. First, the room my sister and I always shared: an impression of yellow and small flowers, an old-fashioned low rocking chair in dark wood and daffodil upholstery, shelves lined with the gold-embossed spines of Reader's Digest Collections, two high twin beds with butter-yellow bedspreads. My grandmother's bedroom was off-limits and I only remember there were cardinals everywhere. She collected tiny fragile porcelain birds and they perched throughout the house on tiny tables and shelves. My grandfather's study, where my brother usually slept, was at the very back, dark wood, dark furniture, medical books and a ship captain's barometer and compass hanging on the wall. All the rooms were dim, light filtering through the bushes and trees which protected the house. The bathroom had gold filigree accessories and a little gold swan held the soap. Of all the beautiful things that my grandmother owned, I horrified her once by letting her know it was the swan I coveted most.

It's funny, now, remembering. We spent summers and vacations for years in that house and so little of it remains in my memory. Scenes float and things in the house, but I can't be sure if I'm remembering them correctly. I can remember the warmth and kindness of Theotus and his wife, housekeeper and handyman, a couple that took care of things for my grandmother but I can't remember their faces. My grandmother always seems to be sitting at her desk, writing. Where my parents were, I have no idea. They have little presence in my memories of that house. We ran and played and dreamed in the sun, and gorged on the cold, fruity ice of the endless popsicles.

Green, heavy, dappled with sunshine and buzzing quietly, sharpened by our shouts and laughter, it was always summer there.

***

She-Dork's Rockin' Fortune Cookie Fortune: Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards
 nostalgic
mood: nostalgic
music: kd lang—Constant Craving


Comments

Thank you for sharing that. It's beautifully written and evokes very vivid images in my mind. I really should trap some of my own images and memories like flowers in a pressing book.... before I forget them!

*hug* Sounds like a wonderful place.

That's exactly what I'm trying to do: trap and press the memories like flowers :) Thanks for picking up on that.

Like minds, or what? ;)

Cool

I liked that very much. I really liked treasure-attic. If we are lucky enough, we all have a house like that. Mine is my Aunt Margie's in Fonda, N.Y. of all places. And I could really picture your grandmother's stuff in the house from being in her condo. I remember how impressed she was when I drove us downtown for dinner and a play or something, wasn't it? I sure wasn't going to let her drive. We had dinner with her a bunch of times, she was a really interesting lady.

Re: Cool

Yeah, she was. :) I was glad I got to know her as an adult, too. I was trying to keep my childhood impressions pure from the knowledge of her home and things that I gained later. :) Not easy!

That's beautiful.

:) It was. I wish I could go back and see it again.

That was a wonderful piece of work- and very well written- I felt like I could see it.

Thank you :)


***What they said...........
wonderful & well written.
wado for sharing.

You're welcome. Thank you :)

I read this at work earlier today, and when I had finished reading it, I suddenly realised that I felt as if I had spent a few minutes in your grandparents home and garden. I felt relaxed for the first time all day. Very powerful writing ... I had to come back and read it again. Lovely!

:) I'm glad you liked it.

You are such a great writer, I am so envious! Wonderful memory.... :)

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