Fine Print 7/26/16

(This is a series I'm calling Fine Print, where I will tell stories and reflect on life.)

These days there are crickets getting into the apartment from the patio. They jump along the floor while I hurry to catch them before Charlie sees one and freaks out.

I gently scoop them and set them free out on the patio.  

July is almost over. I sit in the apartment and try to stay cool. 

Fans whir overhead, reminding me of childhood days in the stores of my youth. Where there were often wood floors and a fan trying to keep the customers cool while they shopped. 

There were big long machines filled with sodas. You lifted up the lid, grabbed your bottle, and took off the bottle cap in the built-in bottle opener along the side. 

Does anyone remember those?

I don't recall feeling as worn out with the heat back then. I'd take the cold bottle, already sweating with perspiration, and roll it against my skin to cool off before I left the store.

Now I keep the blinds mostly drawn. Trying to battle the heat outside my door. This is an old apartment, relatively speaking, and it is hard to keep the heat out and the cold in. And vice versa.

I let the dogs out, and it prompts that silly little Bewick's wren to hop out from underneath one of the chairs outside. It hops along in its manic way, beak open, as though it has something on its mind to say to me. 

I wonder if it's the same wren every time? 

Maybe its staying under the gazebo because the temperature has been over 100 degrees every day. Which means I have to keep an eye on the plants as they wither and droop in the heat of afternoon. 

I go to the fridge and break off a stem of grapes and pop their coolness into my mouth, one by one. Makes me think I need to get a small watermelon next time I dash out to the store. 

I sit here and stare at my collection of mason jars, and think of ones quite similar stored down in the cellar when I was a child. Then they were filled with goodness by the end of summer. Lined along simple narrow shelves in the cool underground room.

By the season's end, we were stocked up with garden vegetables and fruit from the big garden that kept us fed. 

To keep our garden in shape, my grandmothers took their hoes and scraped at the soil to unearth the weeds on a regular basis. 

Sometimes it seems like I can still hear the cadence of hoe against dirt, all those years ago. Punctuated by dogs barking in the distance and the sound of our chickens scrabbling and clucking in the fenced chicken yard. 

Sometimes I want to step back into the shadows of that other time.

Rock in the rockers on the front porch. 

Catch crickets and set them free. 


  1. Morning, dear Brenda. Oh how I love the pictures you bring to mind from the depth of our memories. Our generation often still had our roots from the ground. My grandparents both had large gardens that I helped with. And my childhood was spent on acreage that yielded rows of veggies, where each night during the summer we ate what we picked that day. And yes, I remember those long iced down coolers. You had to dig through to find your favorite. What I miss most was sitting in the porch swing on the large wrap around farmhouse porch catching a breeze and listening to night sounds. Our kids and grandkids aren't getting those same "grounding" experiences as we had. They're stuck with some kind of electronic gadget invading their senses 24/7. Thanks for sharing with us. big hugs.

  2. Loved this post - brought back many memories that I thought were forgotten. Thank you

  3. I have many of the same memories, and spent (and still do) many hours behind a hoe in the summer. My family raised tobacco and tomatoes as cash crops my whole childhood. I'm rethinking vegetable gardening for next year, though. Anything I plant will immediately be mulched heavily. The summers have just gotten too hot and dry to garden in bare dirt.

  4. Crickets in your home are a sign of good luck. I was told by an Asian friend of mine, to never kill a cricket in your home because they bring luck and money. Something I have never forgotten. I often think back when I was younger and wonder how the heck did I play outside all the time when it was so hot. And I lived in Barstow for a period of time, yet we would be out in that desert heat like it was nothing. This heat wave is awful. Supposed to be 106 today and 109 Thursday. My little rental home is like your apartment, hard to keep the heat out and the cool in. I get up earlier than usual and water everything before getting ready for work, still come home to wilted or tired petunias. Looking forward to fall. Love your post this morning.

  5. Frozen grapes in a tiny, pretty bowl and a white wicker rocker on a shady porch with a soft blue ceiling: let me step back in time for just one day.

  6. Beautiful - such descriptions that it literally takes me there. I remember those Coca-Cola tubs with the bottle opener on the end. Remember when you could return the bottle for a few cents. Save up to get another Coke. When I was very young, the adults sat on the porch and talked into the night. We kids played hide and seek out in the dark yard, so many trees to hide behind. Good old days, thanks for bringing back the memory.

  7. Oh how I remember/miss those days. There was an old wonderful country store just a ways from my childhood home.It was just called Roy Horton's Store. I thought it was the grandest place ever!He had drinks like you mentioned where you had to hunt for the kind you wanted and he had everytype of candy you could imagine. The shelves held about anything a person especially a kid would need.How I'd love to climb in my daddy's car after it cools off tonight and go get a cold drink at Roy Horton's Store.Thanks for sparking such wonderful memories.

  8. The JC Penney store downtown had wood floors and ceiling fans. The Safeway had a green Dr. Pepper machine. A cold soft drink from that machine was a Saturday morning treat. Good memories!

  9. You write so beautifully with such feeling and detail. I could easily envision everything you said. Your mention of the soda cooler made me wish I could grab one right now. There is something about grabbing one cold from a store like that. My dog used to chase bugs but now he can hardly see. So, we don't even point them out to him anymore. We're now left to our own devices to get rid of them. We used to have him do it for us. Ha!

  10. Wow your post drew upon my old memories of Southern summers past. Helping my grandmothers weed and harvest from their gardens, vegetable suppers made from what we picked. Sweet iced tea with lemon. After washing dishes, the grown ups would sit in lawn chairs out front, waving to the neighbors and talk while we kids played hide and seek, kick the can or just rolled down the hill in the yard. Thank you for this nostalgic post.

  11. I do remember those cold drink coolers! I often reflect on those times, myself! I remember saving those coke bottles to get the deposit back so I would have penny candy money! LoL Good times! I don't have rockers on my porch but I do have swings. You are more than welcome to come for a visit! I would love to reminisce about the old days, with you!

    Grace & Peace,

  12. I have similar memories from my childhood. We lived near my grandparents, who always had a huge garden and my grandmother canned food and put it into a huge freezer too. My mom had to help with gardening and canning while growing up, and she hated it. When she got married in the 1950s she embraced the convenience foods of the day. But we always got fresh tomatoes and canned green beans from my grandparents. We also shopped at the little groceries, but eventually the bigger A & P came along, and I was amazed to watch my parents grind coffee beans right there in the store. Did anyone's parents do like mine, and make a pot of coffee in a percolator in the morning, and that same pot would keep perking all day? My dad would pour himself a cup of it when he got home in the evening. Ugh, I don't know how they kept drinking that stale, bitter sludge. I didn't start drinking coffee until I got married in my mid-20s because I figured it all tasted like what my parents drank. My then-husband would make himself just one cup with a little Mr. Coffee. I took a sip and it tasted totally different than my parents' coffee!

  13. Yes, I remember those soda machines. Great memories.

  14. Oh, how I love your thoughtful posts, such as this one. You have the gift of painting a beautiful picture with your words. I enjoy visiting your memories...


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