My memories, the special moments that draw me don’t come in a day but in a place —
I was a teenager when my family found its way to the old two story house that holds so much of what I remember of my childhood.
There are the blueberry bushes at the King Road house with branches arching to the sky hiding me from view. Bright ripe globes of fruit some as large as marbles are plucked from the branches filling my white ice cream bucket with the promise of pies and tarts and other treats. The taste bursts in my mouth when I eat one and then another. But I don’t eat too many. To a teen the store’s willingness to purchase the extra berries I pick is a lure I am not willing to pass up. Blueberries, deep, almost blue, soft skin, floral feelers ringing the end. I remember.
There, next to the bushes, perched on the side of the steep slope above the graveled driveway meandering to the house is a small clearing. Taking a rest from picking or just using picking as an excuse to escape, I pull back the branches and expose the mossy stump. Hidden from view of the house, the hanging branches still allow me to watch. I go there to think and to sing. I go there to pray and plead that God will help me find a way to feel belonging in the place that is my home. I don’t understand. I just somehow know that I am different, that I don’t really fit in. There in the clearing I rebuild my courage and go out to face my life again.
The land around our rented home flourishes with berries. I loved the detective work of finding enough to make a pie or cobbler. They were all so beautiful, so unique in their colouring – the peachy flesh of the salmon berries, dusty red of raspberries, orange red huckleberries, plump purplish black clusters of blackberries hidden among their thorns.
Small crab apples filled the knarled branches of the tree beside the houses. Rhododendrons and other flowering plants pilled the gardens scattered around the house.
It was a rental property. For a pastor’s family such luxury was only possible because of the caveat that kept the rent low as long as we fed and took care of the people’s cat. I don’t remember the cat much. It was it’s own solitary creature but it ate and slept in the house when it was cold. That is all it needed from us.
So other pets also filled our lives. There were dogs – Dusty, Curly, Festus and others. There were cats whose names hold no memory for me.
We raised pigs there at one time. My brother wanted to call them Chucky 1 and Chucky 2 like the two kittens that had run away, but dad called them Ham and Bacon. He wanted us to remember that the pigs were food not pets but, like most kids, we didn’t keep that distinction too well.
I remember. I remember joy and finding my way along the pathways of my life. Perhaps this place is the path I need to walk to begin finding my way again.