Blowin' this pop stand
When Alison was in fourth grade... um... cripes, I just can't believe sometimes that time has passed so quickly... I was chatting with her teacher during a conference -- I'm going to say that it was a spring conference, so maybe closer to 9 years ago (oh yeah, that makes me feel better...) -- and she told me about this fantastic garden she'd recently visited, only a couple hours away, that was full of hostas -- Foxfire Botanical Gardens. I don't remember how or why we got on the subject -- you all know how much I like hostas, but it really doesn't come up in everyday conversation regularly, especially not at parent-student-teacher conferences, and I don't think I was even into hostas all that much at the time. The whole hosta-lovin' thing has come about very gradually and mostly as a necessary by-product of living in a very shady yard -- if I wished to have any fun landscaping at all, hostas were going to play a big role! This teacher of Al's was one of the most efficient ever and when she told me that she'd send information home, you can bet that it was in my hands within days. It got tacked up to a cork strip at the bottom of the magnetic calendar holder on the refrigerator and it's been there ever since -- you can tell it's been there and been moved around (and maybe looked at) numerous times because the top right corner has been perforated to a pulp with the thumbtack! It hangs there still.
Upon her return from Knitting Camp, I read all about Foxfire at Sarah Peasley's blog in her July 26th post (scroll down -- you can't miss it) where she not only summoned me to the blog, but posted tantalizing pictures as well. Well. Well, well, well... today, I'm finally going to see the actual gardens for myself!
I'm going with my mom and we're picking up her two sisters on the way. Interesting, that, since I just posted recently about my own sisters. My mom doesn't get together with her sisters very often. They still live around Marshfield, where they were all born and raised -- where my dad was born and raised, too -- where the mere mention of all the little cow-towns all around evoke fuzzy, soft thoughts of my ancestry -- Rozellville, Hewitt, Arpin, Stratford. Oh, especially Rozellville -- we'd drive through there frequently when I was little -- my mom would point out which was her grandmother's house on the main drag, reminisce about when she was a girl, staying overnight, and how she'd hear the cars go by -- whoosh-whoosh-whoosh, whoosh-whoosh -- after the dance hall closed on Saturday night; how her younger sister got cut herself badly while swinging on the cemetery gate across the street and couldn't really tell how it had happened because she'd get in trouble. Great Aunt Isabelle and Uncle Joe had a farm in Rozellville (oh, there was something about Aunt Isabelle -- I hardly knew her, my strongest memory being from Joe's funeral, but I think of her as one of the sweetest ladies who ever drew breath), and some of the cousins still live and work on the old family farm.
It won't surprise anyone to know that I've been thinking a lot about family lately. I think I've been dwelling on my sisters, and on my mom and her sisters, and kind of avoiding thinking about my daughters -- as sisters, young women, students, employees. I'm thinking about them now. It's that season -- the third fall that someone is going off to college. This time, it's Ali. It's not anywhere near the last time, but not nearly as hard as the first time -- not as far, and I'm more experienced or conditioned or something. It's different. And it's good.
She's so different from Katie. Katie talks to me about almost everything -- blurts it out, sometimes, like she just can't keep it in. We were up talking for about an hour past the goodnight kiss the other night -- blurt, blah-blah, blurt. With Ali, I don't get nothin' unless I ask questions and it isn't always easy. She's sometimes moodier, sometimes shorter in temper -- a red-headed Aries! Oh, my goodness, I love her to death and she's so sweet and sensitive, but sometimes...
I worry. I think she's doing some things that I'd rather she didn't -- like smoking, either regular cigarettes or clove ones, which, in my opinion, can't be any good -- and it stuns me. Didn't she see me struggle with quitting, continue to struggle; didn't she beg me to quit, complain about the smell (I never smoked in our house). And I think, NO! Well, YES! Yes, she did see me struggle, but No, it doesn't always make a difference -- at least not as I might like. I was the same way, I know I was...
OMG, it's scary! When my sisters and I were their ages, we drove from Wisconsin to Oregon -- Karen and I were the only ones with licenses -- and spent a week camping down the Oregon coast with our dad and his wife and her kids -- and then we drove back, scrounging change from under the seats on the way back for Egg McMuffins, and then barely having enough money for gas! (Renewed appreciation for Mom for not freaking out about this trip -- it's amazing, really -- and we didn't even have cell phones!) From here I think about all the other things...
And then I get to thinking about Maddy and I wonder what's going on with her and, the poor girl, I think she feels my eyes boring into her head, me trying to get my brain waves to make contact with hers, and she wonders what's up!
Heh. Katie's not the only one who can blurt, blah-blah, blurt. There's a famous quote from a famous sportswriter, "local boy" Red Smith: "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." I sometimes I feel like salty tears are in the mix during the blood-letting, especially when it's about family, especially when it's about my girls... who are young women... flying the coop, blowin' this pop stand, what they're meant to be doing. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, too, learning the lessons that my mother and all the mothers before me have learned. Those "time flies" and "just wait 'til you have kids" warnings -- things I used to scoff at -- they are so absolutely true.