Today’s story is from Ladybelle Fiske.
I was born in the time of sunflowers and the greatest heat at the end of summer, just before the cold begins to creep around your ankles and you realize that the days really are getting pretty short.
The day I was born, I don’t know if it was hot, but I imagine it was still summery enough to pretend that summer would go on forever. By the old farmhouse where I grew up– built sometime in the 1700s; we could tell because of the old hand-hewn beams and the square nails, grew little purple and blue flowers that were called Ladybells (adenophora confusa). My mother always claimed that it was because I was a proud “Lady” that I was called Ladybel(le), but I have always thought that the name must have come to me from the flowers that nodded by the gray stone wall that stood below the two white pines, one on each corner of the house.
How beautiful it was, though surely different than the lives of other children, to grow up on that farm and wander freely through the dark cool woods and wash my feet in the icy brook;to listen for Spring Peepers each April and hear them shouting for joy at the end of winter and the mating season; to pick the soft matte yellow-green grapes off the twisty vines with their little curly tendrils at the end of each summer. They grew in and out of the windows of the ancient barn, filling the spaces where glass might, must, have been once. The true glory of the old barn was the room– it held lumber then– with one big window facing away to the West, to mountains, green and blue in the far distance, rolling away into the blue sky, and the yellowing meadow closer to home.
It was a joy to grow up in Vermont, never to go to school, even though it meant that every September to June we had to be careful not to go into school till after three in the afternoon. Then we had to get ready for the winter, to leave the uninsulated house in the dark and cold of Winter and drive South, avoiding truant officers all the way to Florida… (more later)