My memories are snapshots of times spent with you and Uncle Bob and all the cousins. I loved visiting your home–whether we drove down the long road and driveway with Dad or walked via the old dump road and skeet field with Mom. Each time we arrived, you welcomed us with grace and your unassuming manner.
I remember sipping lemonade on the back porch, riding the wooden horse, and checking on Dale’s bunnies, especially Peter who soon became Mrs. Peter. I remember lunches at your kitchen table, and the time we bit into our tuna sandwiches only to discover the bread was filled with ants. Why that sticks with me, I don’t know, but we all thought it was funny. I remember family reunions, where food and laughter and aunts and uncles and cousins were abundant. Eventually, it evolved into a musical gathering–such was the talent of the clan.
But most of all, I remember your flower and vegetable gardens and your love of all things natural.
And so today, as my guy and I ventured to a park we’d never before visited, I took you with us. I wanted to share with you our findings, just as you used to share stories of your gardens and wildlife sightings with us in Christmas cards after I moved north.
Our first observation–a moose! Well, not really.
But we did see evidence of deer and I knew you’d be glad they were running away–leaving your gardens alone. Oh, and those pesky raccoons! Raising eight children didn’t seem to phase you, but those raccoons in the corn field–that did rattle you.
The gardens in these woods differ from yours–and right now, given the snow cover, the only ones visible were high up in pine trees, where yesterday’s snow offered nourishment to the mosses and lichens that grow there.
We did, however, find one similarity–the legume-like seed pod from a locust tree. It’s almost time to sow the peas.
In these woods, we also found a symbol of the past–it was once farmland as signified by the apple trees. If memory serves me right, there was a very climbable apple tree beside your driveway.
And then we spied one impossible possibility–an acorn tucked into red maple bark. How did it get there? And will it germinate? If it does, what then? I trust, you too, would have noticed such and wondered.
We followed the trails through the woods and sometimes beside the brook for which the property was named–Pratt Brook. It was a bit more bubbly than the creek in your yard, but such is the snow melt right now.
Along the way, I noted a family of artist conks decorating a tree. And, that, of course, brought to mind the box of colored pencils you (or perhaps it was the cousins, though Neal had no qualms about telling us that our gifts were really chosen by you) gave me long ago. I cherished that box and used those pencils with care. They lasted into my early adulthood.
And then my guy gifted me another box, which I again revere. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit and sketch and then add a dash of color. Whenever I do, Aunt Ruth, you are with me.
For a while we followed the power line trail, aka Bear Trail. As you can see, we tramped in the footsteps of many others who’ve traveled this way just today–via skis, snowshoes and hiking boots like us. We were an hour from home and close to the ocean, so the snow level was about six inches compared to at least two feet we walk upon daily. But today’s sun warmed us and initiated a meltdown.
I didn’t mind being on the power line for a bit, for it was here that we saw our only sign of wildlife.
It was also the spot where I knew we’d find wildflowers–and I wasn’t disappointed. Asters like these, and goldenrods, spireas and berries displayed their winter forms.
Back into the woods, we were almost done, when we spied this woodwork, carved by bark beetles.
And I was again reminded of my past observations when I moved a log and discovered a gnawer on the job.
The intricate work reminded me of Uncle Bob’s woodworking skills and I knew you’d appreciate that. You’d also appreciate that as I write, my guy is watching a National Geographic show about Wild Scotland.
Thanks for the memories, Aunt Ruth. And thanks for making time for us and showing an interest in all that we did–always as curious about our adventures as those of your brood. You were a remarkable woman and a genuine Yankee whom I was blessed to have as a part of my life.