The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, June 18, 2012


When I was a girl, Summers always seemed to exist in a period of suspended animation. Everything moved slower, and sometimes it felt like nothing moved at all. There was no sound. It was hot and so humid you slurped the air in like a thick, hot broth. 

Ever so often a cricket would try to rub it's legs together or a bird would make a wobbly chirp from the top of the maple in the front yard. Sprinklers would run non stop, trying to keep the new turf alive,sending rainbows across the yard,and everything would stop in the afternoon when the sun was at it's height.

We didn't have air conditioning. Mom would try to create cool areas in the house with a floor fan that had wet washcloths draped across the front of it. Mostly that just added to the humidity. There was a constant supply of lemonade, Popsicles and iced sweet tea, anything to keep liquids in us.

There were no sun blocks, no neighborhood swimming pools, and in our area no ponds or lakes to swim in. Just the Kansas sun, field after field of wheat turning yellow and an occasional tractor going by on it's way to plant corn or soy beans. The dogs would go to sleep under the front porch and the cats would disappear where ever it is cats go when everyone hunkers down to wait out the passage of the intense Summer light.

My favorite place to spend my endless afternoons was under the maple, leaning against the trunk in a place that had split and healed years ago, forming a round dimple in the bark where my head fit like a pillow. I'd wiggle around until everything was just right and read a book from the library...or maybe a comic book stolen from one of my older cousins.My chores were done and no one was expected to work too hard when the temperature soared past 100 every day. 

Grandma would bring out glasses of lemonade and plates of cookies to keep me and Penny, her wonderful stinky old farm dog, company. Penny would get fat off of those cookies while I was there. I'd eat one, then give her one. She'd lay there, draped across my stomach sighing and, occasionally,drooling with contentment. I'd drink the lemonade and she'd lick the condensation off the outside of the glass. It was perfect, laying there in the shade and watching the late afternoon clouds slowly build out on the horizon. I thought it would never end.

But physics is inevitable. Turned out there was an end and time kept moving on. Sometimes time goes round in circles though. And it always happens when you're not looking.

This is one of those Summers, where the clouds are always hanging on the horizon, the heat is thick and the grass is crunchy. I don't like to turn on the air until July, maybe because of those wonderful sweaty memories from my childhood. Or it could be to keep the bills at a manageable level too. But I'm a romantic, so I'll go with the sweaty memories. It's going over 100 today, much earlier in the year than normal. The yard looks like August and I'm down to watering only the vegetable garden to keep it going. The flowers, except for the native wildflower garden, are fried. We're in a drought and the wind has been blowing straight out of the south for a couple of days now. The windows are open, curtains flapping, dogs under the deck and cats off to sleep in the barn where the fans are blowing to keep the hay from getting moldy.

But that's not why it feels like I'm in suspended animation today. Today my status changes from Mom, Wife, Artist and Horsewoman to Grandma! My youngest son, Ben, called to let us know that he and his wife, Lauren (my lovely daughter in law! I love having a daughter.) were on the way to the hospital. When I heard from him via texting a few minutes ago, he said that she's already 8cm's dilated and her contractions are 2 minutes apart! MY GRANDSON IS ON HIS WAY IN TO THE WORLD!

I can't seem to stay focused on anything except my memories of my Grandparents place in the Grandma's cookies and fresh made lemonade, pop cycle trucks and library books, even the smell of stinky Penny (that could be Joe adding in that little sensory note). Now I get to be the Grandma and our little converted barn/house will be the place he comes to visit. It will be my horses, dogs and barn cats providing the background and the frogs that sing at night who add in the sounds of our Summer symphony. 

Tomorrow will be his very first whole day and it will be mine as Grandma Nancy.

It's time for me to freshen up my bed time stories, my rocking chair skills and to do my best to give him some of the same timeless Summer heat and lemonade memories. 

Oh, the stories we'll tell. Let the laughter begin! 

I am, ever yours, Grandma Nancy, smiling so big and so hard my cheeks hurt!


Pulitzer Photo Mural, image taken while in DC at the Newseum                          


Janine said...


Nancy, smiling! said...

Thank you Janine. He's in the world now, and ever so handsome. Mom is doing fine, tired but fine. Dad didn't faint and he took pictures, so he's doing great too.
His name is Jaden Bradley Ness, named for his two Grandfathers. I love it! He is 8 lbs 13 ozs and 22 inches long! I think maybe he's going to take after his Dad, who was big when he was born and is lots bigger now.
Lucky, Apache and Willow are now officially "uncles" and an "aunt". Can you tell I'm excited? :-)