Knowing when to let go

When I was a child, we had a small playground set in our backyard. It had monkey bars, a swing, a deck with a fireman’s pole, and a few other features. I loved the swing the most, and I remember begging my  mom to push me, again and again. My favourite way to be pushed was “underdog”: my mom would push me so high that she could run under me before I swung backwards.

I didn’t need a push to soar, though. I had excellent swinging form (not a currently recognized sport). When I went forward, my legs were straight as an arrow, and as I swung back, I would bend my legs at the knees, keeping them together but spreading my lower legs to make an “A” shape. Back and forth, back and forth. I could swing for what felt like forever, and it really provided a sensation of transcendence.

I spent a lot of time there by myself, but I also often played there with my siblings. We had a complicated game called “Traffic”, the rules of which I no longer remember, but, not very surprisingly, it involved a lot of movement and dashing about, trying to dodge things and people.

Whenever our cousins or friends came over, we would head to the backyard. My best friend and I had great fun in the winter when there was a heavy layer of snow on the ground. We would climb up to the deck and leap from it into the snow below again and again, each time feeling a rush of delighted fear before we took the plunge.

I can think of only one truly frightening experience on the playground. I had gone up to the deck with a cousin five years younger than I, and we were at the end with the fireman’s pole. This was fun not only to slide down, but to prove one’s strength on by climbing back up, hand over hand. Perhaps D., my cousin, was trying to slide down the pole, but I no longer remember exactly how he ended up hanging off the edge of the deck. He was being kept from falling only by my hold on one of his hands.

It was summer and there was no cushion of snow, and I was terrified that if I let go of him he would break a bone in the fall. I probably wasn’t older than 8 or 9, and he was too little to understand why I wouldn’t just let him go, because my grip on his arm hurt so much! He was crying and wriggling, I was desperately clinging. Finally, I couldn’t hold on to him anymore. Either my strength gave way or he succeeded in struggling out of my grasp. He fell, but was unharmed, to my great relief. And not to worry, this incident did not have a negative impact on our relationship: we are still very good friends.

 

Revolution

(That’s a misleading title. The only revolution discussed within this post is that of my feelings about pie. Do you feel let down? If so, why? Would you like to join me in a real revolution of some kind?)

When I was a little kid, the only kind of “pie” I would eat was an ice cream bar called Eskimo pie. I remember being fed one when I was very young, probably not even in school yet, because I had a very high fever. That’s one way to get your treats, kids!eskimopie_blog

When I turned nine, I asked for a rhubarb pie instead of cake, because my dad like rhubarb pie and I wanted to be like him. I don’t much remember my reaction to it, but I don’t think I was particularly enthused.

Later, I took a liking to lemon meringue pie, my favourite part being the meringue, and my least favourite (and often uneaten) part being the crust. As soon as I had a taste of chocolate pie, I was on board with that too. In fact, it became a tradition for me to order chocolate satin pie from Marie Callender’s every year for my birthday dessert.

In my early teens, I started baking, and lemon meringue pie was one of the first projects. I was surprised to discover that I now preferred the lemon to the meringue (I now love lemon-flavoured desserts passionately). Eventually, I even learned to enjoy eating pie crust (my own pie crusts, anyway. Yes, I am a baking snob).

At this point in my life, I have made and eaten all kinds of pie, having long since left behind my pie-despising ways. Pie-making could be said to be its own reward, but I don’t just enjoy consuming it–delighting other people with my desserts is something I love.

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Pies I made on Independence day a few years ago. On the left, cherry; on the right, straw-berry rhubarb.

5:30 AM, New Year’s Day

Still asleep, I heard a clattering noise. Once I had awakened sufficiently to speak, I said “What are you doing, Draconis?” who replied that he wasn’t doing anything. We then located the source of the noise–it was coming from the window well.  Draconis got a flashlight and shone it through the window; an animal had fallen into the well. “I think it’s a dog.” Cats were also mentioned, though I was secretly hoping for a fox.

Not wanting to leave the poor creature scrabbling at the window all night (which would render us quite unable to sleep, in any case), we got up and donned boots and coats for the winter night. I advanced first and was startled to shine my light not upon a dog but a raccoon–I immediately stepped backwards out of its sight, as if that alone would protect me. I was both relieved and disgusted–relieved because the animal sufferer was not, in fact, a dog (who would require looking after) and disgusted because I hate raccoons. I consider them to fall firmly under the heading of ‘pest animal’ and they can give one rabies, to boot.

We began debating the necessary next step.  Should we wait for the morning, and call animal control? Could the raccoon be assisted out immediately, giving us peace and quiet?  We looked for a plank to help it out–there was no plank, and the only other wood was two spindly dowels which would never support the weight of a raccoon. After considering and dismissing mops and brooms, Draconis decided to try lowering a tall stepladder into the well. Before he even had a chance to brace it against the ground, the raccoon had clambered up and away, dashing across the lawn to find cover under Sven the tree.

Relieved that no one had been hurt or bitten, we returned to bed. May the coming year bring you fewer raccoons than it has us.