During the days of my childhood, our modest house sat under four huge pecan trees. Today as I swelter in triple digit heat anytime I step out the door, I wonder if all that shade made the summers cooler than the present ones. Was it really cooler back then than it is now? Is my mind playing games with me? Age or selective memories perhaps color my thinking today. We had no air conditioner. I don’t even remember a fan. Other than Mother Nature’s breath, the only breeze that cooled me came as I flew through the air in the swing Daddy had hung for me in one of the big pecan trees.
The rope he tied tightly to the pecan limb and then ran it under the wide board seat, hooking it through the notches he’d carved to keep it in place. My long honey brown hair swirled around my face and tendrils slipped into my mouth and eyes. In spring and summer my toes would touch the bottom leafy branches and shade me from the scorching sun. Sweeping through the air, I created my own personal fan, as well as hours of entertainment. Flying through the leafy boundaries of my natural castle, I explored all the crevices of my mind. I don’t remember suffering from the heat back then. Was I too busy to notice? Too young?
Today my air conditioner purrs day and night, rarely taking a breather at all. I have swings under the pine trees and a hammock under the oaks in my backyard, but the heat still drives me back to the air-conditioned house. When the electric bill came in this week, it was up by $75 over last month. We are paying dearly for comfort during these 100-degree days, but what else can we do? It’s only comfortable outside this time of year when the rare afternoon storm blows up. Notice the word rare. Sometimes when I lie in my hammock with my plants around me and the ancient oaks sheltering me from the sun, I wonder. Is this just a trick of my memory? I know for sure that the mind is quite a trickster.
For example, our memories of the good old days are badly skewed. When we were living those days, we couldn’t wait to grow up. When I flew through the air in my swing and Daddy and Mama took care of all my needs and my problems, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. I couldn’t wait to be on my own and thought I would never grow up. I wanted to be my own boss. Ha! The years seemed to creep along then like turtles crossing the road. Now, it’s Christmas every time I turn around, my children have long since grown up, and my grandchildren are now growing up too fast.
Baby Will is going to middle school in the fall, Trey just graduated from high school, and yet it seems to me that they were just born. More tricks of the mind. Some people are very good at playing these games while the rest of us fall prey to their tricks. In some sale paper Larry was reading the other day, he saw and read to me an ad for a “30-inch, high-velocity air circulator.”
“Funny,” Larry said. “We used to call them fans back in the good old days.”
“What good old days?” I asked him. “There’s no such thing and you know it. It’s all just your mind playing tricks on you. Be careful. You know that some smart person once said that the young dream of what is to be and the old remember very explicitly what never happened. Which category do you think we fit in? Never mind. Don’t answer that.”
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