Tuesday, May 30, 2006

roots

Her bare feet are as hillbilly as the drawl I slip into within the first thirty minutes of my arrival—long, lengthy vowels drawing out like taffy, soft and chewy in my mouth. She fulfills her obligations—greets her great-grandmother, tries her hardest to understand the slurring speech, answers the repetitious questions with a sideways glance, bestows hugs and smiles and freshly drawn pictures—and then in a flash she is out the door, free from the constraints of walls and tennis shoes and ground-dwelling living. Has anyone seen her? my father calls in to the house some time later. I point to her feet, naked and happy, hanging from a branch fifteen feet up in the air. He smiles. That looks familiar…

Oaks of righteousness I will admit they are not—two fairly squat Box Elder trees with branches low to the ground and proceeding upward like stair-steps, perfect for beginning climbers. Perfect for my cousins and I. Perfect for my daughter. She has finally discovered what I have known for decades—Gram’s house has the best climbing trees around. Once perched, just like her mother, she is coaxed down for little more than eating, and, indeed, would have eaten in the tree would the same mother (though more cautious with age) have allowed her. A transfer has been made—my childhood memory has become her own. Mark always used to hang from that tree, my grandmother comments repeatedly, each time as if it is the first. Yep. We all did, I reply in turn.

I watch her from the kitchen window—her sun-freckled face peeking out between a forest of green, eyes and nose and mouth disjointed by leaves laughing in the breeze, obscuring my view of her finally filling-in grin. My grandmother calls her by my name, and I smile. I am the third of four generations present, surrounded once again by the wood-paneled rose-printed flower-filled doily-covered memories of my childhood. The only constant in my thirty-six years—my grandmother’s house and all that is contained within and without. Windmills and windsocks and geese and gnomes and toadstools and trees. But this constant will not remain much longer.

My daughter has made her own hard-wired connections here, today, reinforcing the memory with all five senses, fashioning it into the very fiber of who she is, of who she will become. It is a memory I am relieved we will share. From her bird’s eye view my daughter connects with my roots—her fleshy feet against burled branch, the remnants of Sand Hill still gritty between her toes. We have a family tree, and my daughter has shimmied up it.

4 comments:

Cynthia said...

Um, don't mind if I do but DAMN good writing! O' my gosh, can I say Damn?
Damn good!

lorie said...

Thanks! If it's a compliment, you can say DAMN all you want!

Nelumbo said...

The picture is priceless!

lorie said...

Thanks!