The Summer of Little Knocks

A couple of days ago I walked over to my neighbor’s house to share some of my summer abundance with her.  After debating whether to knock or ring the doorbell, I decided on the doorbell.  I mean, they have one, and so they probably appreciate that it gets used from time to time.  (Ours, on the other hand, went kerplunk a couple of years back.  Knocking suits us just fine, but mostly because we can’t seem to get the wiring right again.)

After a minute or two, their dog came to the door and pushed the curtain aside with her nose.  She stared me down but never barked.  I knew they were home, as their younger little was out playing with all the other children.  After a couple of more minutes, I sat the fruit down and headed back to my house.  About a half hour later my friend came walking down the street, shaking her head embarrassedly and laughing.  “Oh dear,” she said.  “I’m so sorry.  We were eating, and I just knew it was one of the children.  Again.”

She didn’t have to say another word.  I don’t think there’s a parent on this street who hasn’t ignored the summons to the door at one time or another this summer.  Just this evening, we heard a knock and Aub commented, “I’m guessing it’s someone under four feet tall.”

Because it usually is.

And it’s rarely for me.  Or Aub.  Or the Fella.  Our 12 and under residents are quite popular around here.

When the summer vacation for the public schools began, I wondered what this summer would bring.  Some of the children go to day camp, but most don’t–so yes, I wondered just how often the door would be knocked on and how often my children would be in and out and all over their friend’s yards playing back and forth.  As we still had a few days to finish up our school year, I hoped the knocks wouldn’t be too often those first few days of summer break.

It’s been an interesting summer really.  Some days no one knocks until evening.  Other days Cooter is out the door by 9 and he and his buddy play for an hour or so before the heat sends them scampering back indoors for a few hours.  The heat chases them inside more than they chase each other, playing this game or that–the ones we all played as youngsters or the ones they’ve specially designed for themselves.

It’s been actually quite delightful this summer, really, and I shall miss it.

Tonight was the last night of carefree summer fun.  School starts here for our friends on Friday.  Yes.  July.  In camaraderie and for lack of friends to play with once it begins, we too will start our school year then.  Tomorrow night will find all the children around here tucked in bed far earlier than they have been all summer, and they will awaken bright and early Friday morning to begin new adventures.

But tonight–tonight all the good intentions of us Mamas putting them to bed a little earlier all week in anticipation of the big day never even entered our minds.  The crew played and shouted and chased and hid, and I stood inside my front door, listening with my head bowed, close to weeping.  Such a treasured sound.  The sound of joy, of being young and carefree, of having friends and energy and good health, and laughter–oh the laughter.  My heart was full.

So I went to the garage and pulled out a chair.  I plopped it open in the middle of my front yard and set to watching and listening and soaking the last night of summer in–breathing it, savoring it, memorizing its sights and sounds and flavors.  I was soon joined by our Princess and two of her friends.  My Fella even came out and sat for a bit.  It was the best entertainment I’ve had in ages.

And I sat out there with our friends until the stars came out, as we pointed and tried to name them.

It was beautiful.

How is it that summer has flown by so quickly?  How is it that I can’t remember a whole lot of what we’ve done this summer–and yet, I’m thankful for that.

This wasn’t the summer of big trips.

It was the summer of little knocks.

And I give thanks for each one–and every heat-filled, sweat-drenched, lemonade drinking moment filled with water balloon fights, front porch performances and conversations, front yard baseball, football, and basketball games.  And the smiles.  I give thanks for them most of all.

Farewell, summer, and farewell, knocks that had me washing my hands from cooking or stopping whatever else I was doing to come to the door.  May there always be a neighborhood of friends to chase and confide in and dream with–and may we always remember this precious summer.

May we always have someone who knocks on our doors, asking if we can play.

Love to all.

Old_Brass_Door_Knocker

By Scrypted (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Now We’re the Pineapple People

One of my favorite people in the world is turning four next month.  He is our neighbor and one of my little guy’s best friends.  He cracks me up.  He is full of energy and life and I just love him.

I have watched him grow from a newborn to a fellow who says, “Let’s play ‘Ready Set Go.'”  Then you say those three words and he revs his “engine” and takes off.  Bless him, I wish I had that energy.  Even just five minutes a day would be good.

Within our little corner of the world here, we have a street full of young’uns ranging from three to eight in this group that plays together.  Their birthdays fall throughout the year, so it seems like there is always a birthday coming up for one of the children.  As you might imagine, they have their fair share of–ahem–discussions as well.  My almost four-year old friend came up with what I believe may be the greatest indication of where you stand with him.  One of the children did something to frustrate him, and he told his Mama, “She’s off my birfday wist.”  It doesn’t get much more serious than that folks.  He is for real.

But grace abounds.  You can right a wrong and he’ll put you back on his list.  Which is good.  Seeing as how his birthday is next month, I’m trying to be careful and not take any chances.

The shovel in our ground up tree stump pile.....that pool is really coming along!

The shovel in our ground up tree stump pile…..that pool is really coming along!

Two nights ago we were out back in our ground up tree stump pile. (Yes, that’s what it is, doesn’t everyone have one?)  Our friend likes to dig in it with the shovel my Daddy got our Princess for digging years ago.  He was digging for all he was worth–I think he might be digging me a pool, and I’m really quite pleased.  He would toss the dirt behind him.  On one toss he threw dirt all over his brother’s shirt.  The next one he threw dirt all in the Princess’ hair.  All was well because they knew he didn’t mean to.  I really don’t think they forgave him because of his upcoming festivities, but then again, you never know.  As his sweet Mama was gathering her two to head home, I took the shovel and dug a little out, almost without thought.  Sure enough, my little bit of dirt flew onto my friend’s shoes.  Oh dear.  He was NOT happy.  At all.  Fearfully, I said, “Am I still on your birthday list?”  He frowned and folded his arms across his chest and shook his head.  I’ve got to tell you, I was just about devastated.  As they started heading home, I followed behind him and told him he could play again the next morning.  He laughed, and when I asked, I was BACK ON the birthday list.  Huge sigh of relief.

My friend and his precious brother, both my guy’s best friends, are moving.  Such is the life of the military family.  Saying goodbyes, packing up, moving.  My heart is breaking.  Our children have had their own Roxaboxen out here.  I have loved this family and been loved by them.  I will miss the way my little guy and their older son, both two when they moved in, prefer to ride the other’s Big Wheels.  Every single time.  I’ll miss their games of good guy bad guy, when the little brother, my friend, runs after them with his siren blaring.  The three boys love to aggravate our Princess and her friend, and five minutes later they are all sitting together in my front yard playing “Duck Duck Goose.”  They all call my three by our family nicknames, which is so precious to me.  Their Daddy is the one who replaced the tire on our Princess’ bike when our Daddy was serving overseas.  Another time he was the one who helped us figure out what to do with the lethargic little chipmunk who found his way into our garage.  (We returned him to the woods where he is scampering playfully to this day–disagree and you’re not on my birfday list anymore.)  Their Mama and I have had so many late afternoon visits standing in her front yard or mine, sitting on her back porch or my front one.  When I got the call from Mama to come say goodbye to my Daddy nineteen months ago, she knew because she saw me leave my house so early and she KNOWS me.  When Mama went in for her HospitalStay, my sweet neighbor friend cooked a huge meal (actually several in one) for all of us, even remembering my Aub’s and my sister’s special food allergies.   And when our washing machine went out and we had no way to wash our clothes for Mama’s funeral, she was the one who said, “Bring them over here.  I got this.”  And she did.  Washed, dried, and hung up ready to go.  Neighbors and dear friends like that don’t come around very often.  I will miss her sweet spirit that she shares so generously.

pic of pineapple statue

When our neighbors moved in four years ago, one of the first things we noticed was a pineapple on their mailbox.  Pineapples represent hospitality, and this is one family that embodies that a thousandfold.  A week ago, I came home and the pineapple was on our mailbox.  We are only keeping it until this sweet family returns to our neighborhood in a few years.  But it was at that moment that the tears started flowing and the loss became real for me.

Change and goodbyes, you are not on my birfday list.  And I don’t think you will be back on it anytime soon.