I remember those clear summer nights. Never too hot never too cold. I could see clearly, Climbing to the top of the mountain pushing our bicycles with sleeping bags in tow. The three, sometimes four, of us were on our way for a long night of camping usually Jimmy, Johnny ,Eddy and myself . I recall lying out under the stars thinking and planning the mischief that young boys can get into, yet never actually doing anything but sleeping. We were all too afraid to go back down the mountain at night.

As those summer nights turned to fall, the trees seemed to magically change into those beauitful colors of red, orange, yellow and purple. I remember wondering why all the leaves on all the trees would change and eventually fall except the ones on the big tree by the family graveyard. As a kid, I thought this tree must have some special purpose. Its seemed to never die-it’s leaves always green even in the worst of winters. It was this same tree that all the chickens used as a nightly resting place, and it stood guard over the family graveyard. only later in life did I come to find out that it was a pine tree and that they are evergreen.

 As Winter would approach, the cool days and nights grew colder and colder. the trees were all naked from the chill of autumn. Then, like a story about Christmas night it would start to snow. Sometimes two or three feet at a time would fall. I recall fourty inches that fell that winter of 81. Though our parents dreaded seeing itcome, the children were all the more eager and happy to miss what was sometimes up to two months of school.

 We would wake up at day break sometimes having to call someone to dig us out of our homes. We would all want to be the first to brave the cold snow and climb up to the top of uncle Tommy’s driveway to blast down on our sleds time after time.

 With socks on our hands for gloves and two to three layers of clothes, we would stay out half the night. The snow would light up the countryside as if it were noon. after being frozen stiff from the cold, we made our way home only to be scolded by Mom and Dad saying we would catch pneumonia. Then we would warm up with Mother’s hot soup and the old coal stove.

 I recall the rains that began to fall as Winter turned to Spring. I remember grandma yelling as we would pick the marble sized apples off the many apple tree we had saying we were going to get worms and have a terrible stomach ache. I can still see the bright red cherries on that poor half broken down cherry tree behind the house. its branches and limbs sagged from the weight of many climbs from years passed.

I remember the loud thrumps as walnuts would fall on the roof of the house, and the green unwashable stains on our hands as we shelled them.

I remember fishing in the pond behind grandma’s house that yeilded only blue gills and one fourteen inch catfish that I had the honor to catch. It was the one ever to come out of that now dried up water hole.

The one thing I remember most of all is the love of a very large and close knit family hollow that I roamed as a child. Although I’ve gone back many time over the years, It seems that too much has changed.  So all I have left is my memories, my memories of home.


                                                             Donnie Spaulding

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