Hickory nuts drop and knock on the roof. Chipmunks and squirrels forage the bluestone patio.
When I was in high school, I slept barracks-style with my three sisters in a large room with a concrete floor. There was a screened, floor-to-ceiling, doorway-sized opening at the head of my bed, about six inches from the edge of my mattress. No window glass or door, just a screen nailed to the frame. One morning I woke up to a cow chewing grass, about three feet from my head, on the other side of the screen. About ten feet behind him, there was a short rise that fell into a deep valley on the other side. The valley was lush with grass and cows. Now it’s nothing but condos.
One summer I worked at a wilderness lodge. I lived in a wall tent under the pines on the edge of China Poot Bay. No running water. Lodge only accessible by boat and floatplane. Once a week, I hitched a ride on the boat to Homer, Alaska to go to the laundromat. While my clothes spun and dried, I paid a dollar for a bar of soap, a towel, and a shower. Here’s a photo of the wall tent and the view from the porch.
13 cats lived with me and my three sisters in Raleigh, NC. All outdoor cats, we named them: Whitey, Puffy, Scratchy, Snowy, Blackie, Rocky, Mama Cat, Smokey, Fuzzy, Baby, Milky, Tommy, and Stinky. We also grew up with Tootsie, our black Cocker Spaniel, who lived inside and out, and refereed every time we played four square on the porch.
I don’t remember any pictures ever taken of the cats. They were half-wild. Here’s the only remaining photo of Tootsie, 1967, in front of the porch of concrete squares.
Playing in the ditch is my earliest memory. It was at the end of our driveway on a small-town road in Lumberton, North Carolina. I was 5 years old and I got a big spanking when my Daddy came home early one day and caught me. Next day I was back in it. My wild imagination lived there.