August 2007 ARCHIVE
Summer of 2007

I was walking after midnight to avoid the day-time August heat. August heat captures our daylight hours and holds the fortunate hostages inside their igloos.

It is the sultry heat that roasts corn stalks and scalds cement. Even at midnight, you can feel it getting ready to sizzle soon. I had waited way too late for my quiet walk, but I harnessed my dogs, locked the door,

For me at least, it is spooky walking in darkness, even in the friendliest of neighborhoods.

Here and there, lights glowed in windows; from their hiding places, the ever-constant crickets sang hallelujahs to the universal mysteries. The smell of ripeness shrouded the stillness. The thirst of longing for water still can be felt. Yet, I shivered in the 80-plus degree heat.

Darkness played games with my much too vivid imagination. So, this should not come as a surprise, for me to tell you that I had stepped into my memories as I followed my dogs’ steps.

Maybe it was the familiar smells and walking with my dogs. As I have always had dogs at my side throughout my life.

At a bend in the sidewalk beneath the cover of a tree, I slipped into my past and met who I once was. A young kid dressed in a gingham shirt and shorts, running home in the dark from Pearlie’s house with my dog, Skipper.

We were on a well-worn footpath between the corn fields that ran beside the barn, a dark barn where the cows slept. Only the Katydids and the Cicadas broke the silence. I was late and Mom would be mad. As I approached the barn, I picked up speed. The door to the hayloft was open and the darkness gawked at me. Ghost tales that had scared me sleepless when I was young came to mind as I called to Skipper to keep up.

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The Art of Visiting

Some of my most cherished memories are of visits with Cousin Phyllis; the nights I slipped away to her house for unscheduled visits.

I was to arrive between 5:30 pm and to depart when her game show came on. Or if she tired of me sooner; she would wave her hand and say goodnight to me.

About once a month, when I felt the need to aside good sense, I would visit Cousin Phyllis with the intent of leading her astray knowing she would be an eager participant. I would jump in my car and drive the short distance to her house. I rarely dressed for the occasion; I threw my red robe over my purple pajamas and slipped my feet into my pink fuzzy bedroom shoes. Sometimes, I would call, sometimes, I wouldn’t bother.

Since I was the visitor not the visited, it was my responsibility to bring a pack of Merit cigarettes and a jug of wine which I purchased at the 24/7 convenience store in the east corner of Shuffletown crossroads. The clerk was usually Fred.

Fred was an affable man who collected stamps. His choice of clothes was always the same: a leather vest over a well-worn cowboy shirt, a string tie and his pipe always hung from a corner of his mouth. Any purchase required a short conversation with Fred, who was never uptight or rushed. He was there to talk and make change. He never seemed to notice that I stood before him dressed like a Clarabelle.

Once back in the car, I drove 500 feet down Mt. Holly Huntersville Road turned left onto Uncle Johnny’s long gravel driveway and turned right onto Phyllis’s driveway. Sometimes, in my enthusiasm, I brought my car to a stop too close by the apple tree Phyllis had planted the day she moved into her home.

When this happened, I would climb over the “PRNDL” (the thing that says, P for park, R for Reverse, D for drive, etc. etc.) and crawl out the right car door.

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