7/14/08

Rainy Days

Yesterday was a stormy day on and off all day long. This day was a rare day in this area for us. We have learned to expect the afternoon showers and storms that result from the heat of the day, but we don't get many pure rainy days.

I remember growing up in Tennessee. Our house did not have air conditioning but the concrete slab floor and rotating fans in every room helped keep things cool. At that time, I don't remember ceiling fans being such a commonality either. The one ceiling fan we did have was not cheap. During the hot summer days, we kept the windows open and fans blowing about the house. As time passed, we upgraded the fans from those metal finger slashing fans to the new safer plastic fans with covers too small for fingers. Before that, each of us got duty watching our baby sister play about the house and were reminded daily of the trauma and life threatening punishment that would happen were she to get her hand caught in that metal fan blade.

Poor baby sister. As she grew into the ripe old age of 4 or 5, our rooster decided he wasn't too keen on her and our newest duty was to protect her from him. She would walk out that backdoor and we would hear the screaming which gave us just about enough time to get in between her and the rooster before he made the 50 yard dash across the yard. We HAD a chicken pen, but the beagles, foxes and weasles had pretty much figured out how it all worked, so the chickens were safer roosting in the trees in the yard. We simply learned to find the laying nests as quickly as the hens cackled.

I remember those days when we would wake up to distant thunder. We knew it was time to get out the crayons and coloring books. There were no VCR's, no cable, no video games. We had crayons, coloring books, paper (if we were lucky) and board games. I loved the colors "Magenta" and "Aqua Marine" so I always tried to find pictures with flowers in them.

Sometimes my brother and I could entertain ourselves playing GI Joe's and Barbie but Barbie always ended up crying which meant I ended up crying, so many days I would opt for the crayons. The board games were no better. Our brother was an expert at just about anything with numbers - once again - me crying - coloring books.

At our house, all winter clothes were packed in boxes in the attic while summer clothes were brought down. This was a big deal for us. We got to try on last years' clothes and hoped the good stuff still fit us. I always seemed to lose my good stuff to my little sister but my victory was that she lost hers to our other little sister. Justice was served. We learned, however, to keep at least one long sleeved shirt and pair of long pants out during the summer just for those rainy days.

Since we were used to the heat, the rainy days and cooler temperatures actually brought a chill into the house. Even in the middle of July, that long sleeved shirt and those long pants felt great. If there was a storm with an accompanying breeze, the dampness would blow throughout the house increasing the chill. Hopefully, we had a pair of socks left out to cover our chilled feet with as well. Those were pretty neat days though when we didn't get flushed out the door to only come back to eat or use the restroom.

Some rainy days were the times our mother chose to take us to the Public Library. We were allowed three books each. It took us a good hour or more to pick out JUST the three books. My favorites were books written by Margarite Henry. During those times, she was published routinely and the librarian would save the new releases for me if she knew I was coming. My sister read "The Little House on the Prairie' series and our baby sister would get books that we could read to her that had pictures. That hour was sometimes difficult though because we liked to pick at one another and it was hard to stay quiet while telling each other to "stop it!" or when we were crying at what someone else did.

Reading was a great past time during those years. Television was a privilege and there were only two or three channels to watch. They mainly had soap operas and kids don't like that kind of stuff. So we read a lot. We had lawn chairs we could sit outside under the trees on the particularly hot days when the fans didn't accomplish their objectives and we could sit "under the covers" on those chilly rainy days as long as we were reading.

So, yesterday brought these memories to the front of my mind. The chill was in the air as the storms passed through. We opened the windows and embraced the dampness that normally air conditioning units remove. We sat outside and listened to the distant thunder until it was no longer safe. We talked about our memories of our childhood when stormy days were an all day event.

I no longer pack up my summer clothes in winter and winter clothes in summer. I have closet space and drawer space enough to support all seasons. I have central air to stabilize the temperatures and I have a television which seems to take the place of books all too often. It seems like we don't experience those all day events like when I was younger. Maybe that's global warming or maybe it's selective memory, but I sure did enjoy yesterday as the chill outside warmed me up inside with all these memories.

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