As a little girl, I never thought it odd that my older brother and I lived with our paternal grandparents. The kids at school never questioned it nor did the teachers blink twice over it. My grandparents never complained about raising us and we just knew this was home from the time I was 18 months old.
We moved to the country very soon after officially moving in with them. It was a two acre plot of land with a 3 bedroom little white house trimmed with red shutters and detached garage.
Simple and lovely.
One of my very favorite spots was found in the backyard between the house and half acre garden, under the tulip poplar tree. So much life happened in the shade of that tree. Her branches would beckon and her fragrance a fresh reminder of summer.
Under the poplar tree I/we would:
~ play freeze tag or hide and seek for hours. She would act as base, the neutral zone until someone shouted, Olly, Olly all is free. Then we would gather under that tree with the two neighbor boys (our only playmates) and eat freeze pops or homemade cookies.
~ catch lightning bugs and put them in Mason jars with grass in the bottom and holes punched in the lids. The neighbor boys would know it was time to go home by a distinct whistle from their mom.
~ lay upside down on a hill close to the tree, watch the clouds roll by and creatively imagine them being a dinosaur, elephant or any manner of object.
~ on that same hill and under that same tree we would gaze up into the night sky and be mesmerized by the twinkling lights. A reminder that when the night is the darkest the stars shine the brightest.
Under the poplar tree wasn’t just for play either. We would spend hours out there sitting in metal framed, nylon stripped lawn chairs snapping green beans, shelling peas or shucking corn. Everyone helped and we each had a job to do.
Under the poplar tree wasn’t just for play or work. Many times, especially Sundays or when my Grand pappy had a short change over from working the burn off at Anchor Hocking, we would take naps out in the shade of the poplar tree. It was often cooler out there then in the house with “raised window” air conditioning. Naps got really fancy when we graduated to a hammock he’d gotten one year for Father’s Day.
When I got older we would sip iced tea or lemonade and catch up with family and friends. Grand pappy was always up for a cup of steaming hot instant coffee no matter the temperature outside. Fight fire with fire was his motto.
It was a gathering place to share hopes and dreams; laughter and tears. Many times throughout my years living there I would see my Granny sitting in one of those metal lawn chairs with her eyes closed and lips silently moving.
When I was little, I thought it was a weird thing to do. What I didn’t realize, she was probably praying that the Lord would keep her from snatching my brother and me bald headed! When I got a little older I asked what she was doing. She said…
“Sometimes when life gets to be too much it’s good to just set a spell and pray. It quiets the mind and settles the soul.”
My Granny wasn’t a loud woman of faith. She simply made it her ambition to lead a quiet life, mind her own business and work with her hands. (1Thessalonians 4:11) In doing so she afforded me a safe place to grow, learn and come into being my own person.
We all need a poplar tree place. A place where you can set a spell and pray. A place where you can quiet the mind and settle your soul. In fact we need more poplar tree everything…kids playing outside, looking at the stars, catching lightning bugs and making shapes out of the clouds. This world needs more poplar tree moments of families gathering to share life, good times, sad times and even hard times. Friends stopping by to share a glass of lemonade and checking in on each other.
Simpler times. Lovely times.
You can find me on any given day, at any given time at my poplar tree place. It’s not under an actual tree but on the farms front porch. Sometimes I set a spell by myself. Sometimes I share a glass of tea (or wine) with friends and we talk about things…serious things or just shoot-the-bull kinds of things. Sometimes we simply sit and listen to the birds sing, the frogs ribbet, breathing in the moment.
What’s your poplar tree place? Where do you go to set a spell, quiet your mind and settle your soul? You’re welcome to join me on the farms front porch!!
Fiercely for you!