We had a swingset in the yard and hundreds of dandelions which I hated then because my father conscripted us to pluck them out of the ground on summer days when we would rather be playing. I can remember racing with Heidi on the end of a long leash, flying down the slope of the yard nearly to the playground fence and not realizing that we had run on either side of a telephone pole until it caught the leash and laid us both out flat on our backs. Our little walled-in backyard patio was full of clover and we children spent hours combing it for the lucky 4-leafed kind. My sister, who has more patience than I, was the only one whoever found them; no matter how hard I looked, they evaded my eye.
It's weird: I basically remember our 3 years in Nebraska as one long summer. I don't remember anything of Omaha or our surroundings; all my memories are focused on our house, our cul-de-sac street, the Cunningham girls across from us that were alternately friends and enemies and the recreation areas by the house. The school was across the street and up a hill, even closer than the one I walked to in Missouri. I went to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade there. The big hill was a perfect place for sledding in the winter, on toboggans and garbage bags and those plastic circle sleds that send one whirling in breathless dizzy revolutions.
Nebraska had golfball-sized hailstones, and tornadoes straight out of The Wizard of Oz, which my dad took us up on the roof to see moving along the edge of the horizon. We had trips to Ak-Sar-Ben, the huge horse-racing track where we went many times and had the thrill of being allowed to bet dollars on horses. My sister and I picked our horses based on their names or the jockey's colors. I remember field trips to Logan Fontanelle Forest where I held a large snake for the first time and marveled over how soft and muscular it was, not at all slimy like one might expect.
3rd grade was Mrs. Lewis, and I remember sitting at her feet, in a circle of classmates while she read books to us, and running my hands over her nyloned legs, marveling at the silky smoothness. My 4th grade teacher, Miss Ames, encouraged my reading-fiend habits, and that entire year passed by in a book blur. 5th grade was a disaster for me. My teacher, Mrs. Brown, managed to squash any bit of love I might have had for math. I was out of school for 3 months with strep throat and had a hard time catching back up.
Continuing my obvious criminal tendencies, my sister and I, after being forced (FORCED, I tell you) to attend summer school, managed to skip a great deal, by camping out under a giant willow tree near the school. We'd spend the whole day there, playing games, reading, and reclining on a convenient mattress that someone had dragged under the hanging branches. The tree was so big and full that we were very well hidden inside the curtain of leafy green. Our luck ran out, though, and we were finally caught and punished.
My brother doesn't seem to feature so much in my early memories of Nebraska, partly because he was so much younger than I was. 5 years is a huge gap when you're the 7-8-9-year-old big sister. Sarah was only a year and a half younger than I so we were already engaged in the sibling rivalry struggle.
This journal entry would be incredibly long if I included all the things I remember that happened in Nebraska. My sister and I shared a room, and my mom bought huge unfinished pine furniture for us and painted it an antiqued olive green. We set up elaborate homes for our dolls on the tops of our desks and bookshelves, scouring the house for things that would work in a dollhouse setting...Froot Loops made excellent doll donuts. My sister's rabbit, Thumper, a black-and-white bunny, lived in a cage under her desk and when he would be let free in the living room, he would slowly hop around, leaving small black pellets behind him, while Sarah followed with a paper towel and picked them up. At some point, Thumper died and while we were at school, my parents brought home a new black-and-white bunny and put him in Thumper's cage. I can't remember if it was Sarah's birthday or what but when we got home, I came in first, and after dropping my schoolbooks on my bed, I heard a noise and turned around and saw THE GHOST OF THUMPER IN THE CAGE! I ran screaming out of the room, yelling incoherently about ghosts, while my mom tried to hush me so I didn't spoil the surprise. :D
Speaking of Bunnies: Every Bunny Was Kung-Fu Fighting! (thanks to paper napkin for the link)
Continuing the Oriental Theme: The Wackier World of Japanese Ice Cream Keep clicking that NEXT button for more boggling (via One Good Thing)