I cried inconsolably when my father uprooted us from our Kentucky farm to Detroit in 1954.
To soothe my homesickness, Mom taught my two sisters and me how to make hollyhock ballerinas with toothpicks. She bought us ice cream at Brown’s Creamery. I loved spinning on the stools.
But that didn’t last long. Dad moved us to another house in Detroit where we climbed the peach tree in the backyard, and ran around the flowerbed that bloomed tulips and roses.
Then, of all delicious things, the Good Humor man appeared in his white truck. If Mom found loose change in her purse, she bought us ice cream on a stick.
The summer before third grade, Dad drove Mom, my three sisters and me north on Wagner Street in Warren. Naked as it could be, I didn’t see one tree or speck of green. Not one bird for half a mile.
To my delight, I captured little frogs in mud puddles in our backyard. Mom found an old pie pan for my pets. “No frogs in the house,” she said.
I put some water and mud in the pan with the frogs and placed it on the kitchen windowsill outside.
When Mom called my sisters and me for supper, I found my little amphibians fried to a crisp. I killed the only living creatures in our habitat.
Thankfully, those unsettling times prepared me for a migratory marriage during the Vietnam War. When we at last bought our first home in 1975, I planted several J&P dry root roses and a vegetable garden in the rich soil of our first home in Berkley.
Yet, it was here in Lakeville where Mel and I first heard the spring peepers in 1989. They’ve since serenaded us from every swamp and bog in our neighborhood and the Polly Ann Trail.
A silver lining to this present dark cloud of pestilence, we’ve passed several families on the trail this week. Jacob, a kindergartener of Leonard Elementary School, rode his bike while his mother jogged with their black lab. A young family from Almont noticed my Great Smoky National Park baseball cap and prompted hiking stories.
At trail’s end, we admired again the large green house where a couple burned leaves in a cauldron. “Hello!” the woman called and waved.
“That’s Char Sutherby. You met her at the library,” I said, and waved back.
Mel and I made her husband’s acquaintance without the handshake.
“Dan, what material is your house made of?” Mel asked.
“It’s handmade cement poured into a mold, a Sutherby pattern. My grandfather built it in 1904,” Dan said.
“How long have you lived in the house?” I asked.
“Forty-eight years. We moved in as newlyweds, and we’re not going anywhere,” Char said.
“Neither are we,” Mel and I said.
Today, when we walked the trail, Char gifted me blackberry lily seeds. “They grow most anywhere.”
Weather permitting, I’ll sow seeds tomorrow, another silver lining in life’s long succession of adversities.
Contact Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.