Thursday, January 25, 2007

I am Superwoman, with an umbrella no less. . .

I think by now you are beginning to understand that I was a tomboy and a daredevil all wrapped up into one. I was always on the cutting edge of, well usually getting cut or something equally harrowing.

Like when I was about 8 or 9 and a bunch of us kids were playing doctor. It was my idea to use real needles! The neighborhood parents frowned on that one, couldn’t really see why myself…

Or when I got the idea to ride my wagon down the slide on my swing set. Wow, it was cool, but I had to admit that the landing was a little rough.

I particularly liked heights, so if there was something to climb, a tree or a house, you name it, I climbed it. The backstop at the baseball diamond was a favorite. Do you know how far you can see from the top of one of those puppies? Far, let me tell you.

It stands to reason that if I liked heights, I would be fascinated by anything or anyone who could fly. I never missed the adventures of Superman; I lived for those exciting moments when he would stop being wimpy Clark Kent and would don his superman cape and hit the skies! Lots of kids really liked Batman, but he couldn’t fly, so he really didn’t fascinate me at all. I mean, how many times can you ooh and aah over the batmobile?

Oh, how I wanted to fly with Superman. I could just imagine it, zooming around everywhere; racing birds and planes, no one would be able to stop me. I could look down on the trees and on the mountains. I would daydream for hours about how my house would look from the sky, or my school.

So I became fascinated with how to make it happen. In school we studied Icarus and Daedalus and the myth soon became an obsession. I read and re-read the story of how Daedalus built the labyrinth in Mino’s for the Minotaur and then needed to escape so he built wings for himself and his son Icarus. He crafted them of feathers and wax and he told Icarus never to fly too close to the sun for they would melt or too near the sea because they would absorb the water and become too heavy. In the end, the wings worked and they escaped. But Icarus didn’t heed his father’s words and flew too close to the sun God, Helios and the wings melted and Icarus plunged to his death into the ocean.

Well, it had worked I told myself with all the logic of a ten year old. But where do you get enough feathers and wax I wondered. My mom wasn’t in the slightest bit helpful about it and I do remember threats about a sore behind if I tried something so silly. But I still wanted to fly.
And then I remembered Mary Poppins. She used an umbrella didn’t she - and that worked too! I didn’t need anything special for that, didn’t I have my own Monkee umbrella already?

They were building a new house down the street which was pretty high up and had the advantage of having a huge pile of sand below it. I eyed that set up for several days, wondering if it would work. I had some doubts, I mean, Mary was magic or something wasn’t she and I sure wasn’t. But it was too tempting.

So one evening after dinner I took that umbrella over to that half-built house in preparation to fly. There was a lot of controversy amongst the neighborhood kids about whether or not it was going to work. Both sides of the debate had ample and vocal supporters. A few of them even decided to bring their umbrellas along to try it too.

We stood up on top of the roof peak and opened our umbrellas in preparation to fly. Excitement was literally coursing through my body as we waited for just the perfect moment; that moment being while no ones parents were watching or driving by!

And then it was clear, so one, two, three and off we jumped. And down we fell, into the reasonably soft sand. Live and learn. I wrecked a perfectly good Monkee umbrella that day. But I didn’t dent my spirit a bit.

Years later when I was 19 I had a chance to jump off a mountain in Colorado. Of course this time I had a big kite attached to me. It seemed cool, not quite like Supermans' cape or Daedalus’ wings, but not bad either.

We jumped off that mountain and the wind caught the kites and we were lifted up, up and away over that valley far below us. The city of Boulder only a tiny spot to the east, we rode the drafts and I cried.

I was finally flying; not with the speed of Superman or the style of Daedalus, but on my own. The world was beautiful from up there.

God does wonderful work.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Pet Chicken. . .

Easter of 1962 I was 5 years old. At that time Wichita had a wonderful amusement park called Joyland. It had been here since 1949 and was certainly Wichita children’s favorite destination.

Along with a magnificent wooden roller coaster, there were lots of attractions for kids of all ages. School kids got to go there for play nights and at the end of every school year Joyland threw a scholarship party. You got so many tickets for A’s, B’s, and C’s and it was true incentive to get good grades.

One of the favorite things for the community was the Easter party each year. They had egg hunts and the year I was 5 the prize for taking part in the hunt and finding 5 or more eggs was a live baby chick.

I was thrilled – and let’s clarify that my parents weren’t. But I hunted those eggs and found my 5 and turned them in proudly for that chick. I was ecstatic about it, my very own chick, which I named Chickee. I was going to love it and take care of it and everything I promised.

And I did and that chick grew into a lovely chicken. It would follow me around the yard and run at us kids and we’d yell and scream in excitement. I thought that chick was the best pet any kid could ever have.

I didn’t understand why I couldn’t take it to bed with me at night – after all, my dog Pepper could sleep on my bed, why couldn’t Chickee? My mom patiently (and I’m sure more than once) explained that Chickee needed to stay outside, that she wouldn’t be happy in the house, but when you’re 5 you don’t really understand that. I did try to sneak Chickee in, more than once but I could never convince her to keep quiet and my mom and dad always found her and took her outside.

Of course, as she got older she was more prone to wandering the neighborhood. My grandpa C was designated chief chicken wrangler and there were times he had to look high and low for that chicken.

He had always lived with us, at least as long as I could remember and he was the neighborhood ‘Pop’ to everyone. He had lots of Native American blood and just had a different way of looking at things, especially nature. He taught me about rocks and trees and flowers, about the stars in the night sky, so it seemed perfectly expected that he be Chickee’s keeper.

One day, towards the end of the school year, Chickee was a few months old. I went off to kindergarten and when I came home Chickee was gone. They told me that she had wandered off again and that grandpa couldn’t find her.

I felt so sad and I remember crying so hard because I loved her so much. She had been my friend, companion and I was the envy of the neighborhood kids because I had my own chicken. I felt inconsolable.

Mom cheered me up though. She made my favorite dinner that night – fried chicken!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Forget the pancakes, it snowed last night.

I was around five years old, and snow had fallen during the night. To me, it was better then popcorn. Better still; my dad was home and it was the weekend. My sled was just asking to be brought out. Big, orange, and perfect for being pulled along the snow banks behind our home; I desperately wanted my father to give me a ride on it.

My mother however, had other ideas. Wouldn’t I stay and have some pancakes first? They would be done in about 15 minutes.

“But mom!” I replied, “I want to go now.”

Not wanting to disappoint me, my mother agreed that I could go; I simply had to be back in time for pancakes. My father was just as eager as I to get outside, and we ran excitedly towards the door.

“I will yell when it’s ready!” my mother called out as my father and I raced towards the gleaming mounds of snow that were so sweetly beckoning us.

Heaven! Never had the snow been so perfect as it was that day. My father and I raced excitedly up one hill and down the next. We completely lost track of time. My sled glided wonderfully across each bank, and I wanted to go faster, and farther with each passing moment. Into the woods behind our house we went, beyond the trees into the thickets. I was having the time of my little life!

Meanwhile, my mother had finished our pancakes, and had begun calling out for us to return to the house. Little did she know or realize just how far away my father and I were.

If she had, she might have given up. Yeah right. My mother?

My sled was stuck! My father had pulled me across an old fence that was hidden by the snow, and the bottom was jammed against it.

“Now don’t worry.” Dad said. “We will be going again in a second.”

I wasn’t worried at all. I was having a ball. The air was crisp, and I was overjoyed at simply being out in it.

POP! My sled was suddenly free and we were off. My father and I had a wonderful time that day. We talked and laughed. Neither one of us realized how much time had gone by. My mother’s best guess was an hour and a half. We were simply led to enjoy the snow in all its glory.

We ate cold pancakes that day, but didn’t complain a bit. After all, is there anything more special then being daddy’s little girl?

By Lynne