Summertime makes me think of my childhood home.
I loved the house my family and I lived in while I was growing up. It was big. It was old. It had character.
We lived smack in the middle of town. Our house had an enormous yard. One where a day-dreamy little girl could have adventures and travel the world. One that provided the canvas for the imagination that played out like a huge movie screen inside the day-dreamy little girls head.
I loved my house and my yard.
My mother loved rose bushes and tulips. Around the east and half of the south sides of our house, tulips decorated the base of the wrap around porch. A wild-rose bush sat at the southwest corner of a smaller, more private porch. When the paving of the driveway was complete, small rose bushes were planted alongside it to conceal the ugly cement.
My older brother, #9 as I refer to him, and I used to climb the apple and cherry trees that were situated outside the kitchen door to play war, bombing each other with apples and cherries. That is, he bombed me with apples, and I pelted him with cherries. Needless to say who always won those war games.
One summer early afternoon when I was about 6 and #9 was, well, about 9, we were looking for something to do. It was too early in the day to go swimming and too late in the day to go on a hike (we would pack a lunch and head out across pastures to explore the country side). While #9 thought about what we could do that day, I was busy smelling the rose bush and watching bees gather their nectar. This gave #9 a brilliant idea.
“Lets play Bumble Bee,” he says to me.
“Okay? How do you play that?” I wasn’t quite certain I wanted to know the answer because, although I adored my older brother, I didn’t fully trust him. Exhibit A: Apple-Cherry War Games Exhibit B: a hundred thousand other incidents specifically designed to torture or annihilate me completely.
He reassured me it was a very simple and harmless game. This didn’t put me at ease. See Exhibit B.
He reached into the rose bush and snapped off a thorn, licked the blunt end and stuck it on his nose. This was funny. He looked more like mutant hippo than a bumble bee. He told me to get one and stick it on my nose, too. So I did. Then he told me to fly around like a bumble bee and make buzzing sounds. So I did. Then he told me that when the other person least expects it – here his buzzing got a little louder and his flying became more combative – you sting’em!
And he rammed that thorn right into my bare upper arm. I screamed. It was probably more of a painful yelp because on top of the obvious stinging sensation in my arm, I was alarmed at what he’d done, and stunned that I had fallen for it yet again!
Wailing, I ran into the house, where I showed my mother and told her the entire horrifying story. She plucked the monstrous thorn out of my arm, dabbed the gaping hole with iodine, and covered it with a band-aid. After drying my eyes, she told me to find something better to do than play with #9. Really? That’s it?
That was it. #9 didn’t get a spanking (which he should have); he didn’t have to pay restitution (which he should have); he didn’t even get grounded (which he should have). He walked away scot-free.
Years later, my husband and I bought a house that had a huge wild-rose bush planted next to the porch. The summer, G was 4 or 5 and the bush was in full bloom, I plucked off a thorn, licked it and stuck it to my nose. I placed one on G’s nose and asked her if I had ever told her the story about Uncle #9 pretending he was a bee?
At the end of the story, G looked at me and said he was mean.
Girlie, you have no idea.