Coming of Age

We all come of age at different ages throughout the ages. That’s a lot of ages but how else do I  explain that now in 2013, some people are thirty and still haven’t come of age. Oh, they may have had sex but they haven’t grown up. In the 1800’s, a boy of fifteen or sixteen was a man and expected to work and behave like a man. In the 1950’s, it was common for men to go to war or college and still be a virgin. Now the age of puberty has pushed downward. Girls as young as ten are becoming pregnant. That’s not the norm but fourteen or fifteen seems to be the new norm for sex. With the younger sexual norm, our society seems less emotionally stable.

What Scares Me

I started exploring the characters from An Old Chair, An Old House. It’s looking like the main character is a teenage boy.

Country kids are different than city kids. We learn about work sooner. We know about finances and being poor. We saw sex at an early age…among the animals. It didn’t mean that we were having sex. It just meant that we didn’t need the birds and bees explained to us. We’d seen it many times in real life. In some ways, we grew up faster. In others, we lagged behind. Cities made me crazy. I couldn’t understand them. It took too much effort to keep track of everything in a city.

The girls that we hung out with were friends though not girl friends. I’d known them as long as I could remember. Their mom and my mom were best friends. Some folks didn’t understand this. They didn’t think that males and females could just be friends. They thought that there was something going on with Katie and Ellen. I didn’t think of them like that.

We took that old chair to Gran’s old house. We’d have to find more. But there was one place to sit. It would be nice when I was there alone. I liked being alone. Or at least I didn’t mind it like some people. Some people just can’t stand being alone. It scares them. I don’t know whether it’s because they think something will get them or if they think they are unloved because there’s no one with them. What I find interesting is that those same people lock the bathroom door when they are there with the people who are keeping them from being alone. They say they are going to the bathroom so everyone knows the bathroom is occupied. So I guess they are just scared when they are alone.

I don’t scare too easy. Not at night in the woods, especially not during the winter when all the snakes are gone. Snakes bother me. OK. Snakes scare me. I jump at garter snakes and black snakes. But have you been snake bit? It changes how you feel about snakes. When you live where there are poisonous snakes, you are taught from birth to avoid snakes. As most snakes in my area are poisonous, lots of snakes are killed. Even the harmless black snakes get killed if they become a nuisance. Black snakes like to swallow eggs. They’ll swallow chicks and even hens. Mother hens will defend their nests so diligently that they’d rather be eaten than leave their nests. I know that there are lots of people in the world who grew up with poisonous snakes and live with them and love them, I’m just not one of them. So yes, there is one thing in this world that scares me and I’m not afraid to admit it. You might as well know that I’m not going to react well if your practical joke involves a snake. I won’t find it funny. I’ll probably try to punch you.

Copperheads and water moccasins were the stuff of nightmares for me. Brown snakes in general were scary. Where I lived, brown snakes were generally copperheads or water moccasins. A brown snake was generally treated as poisonous. You didn’t pause long enough to consider the shape of the head. Most often when you discovered the snake you were about to step on him or he was in your space. A black snake, you’d stop and evaluate. Water moccasins are almost black, a deep grey sometimes. Water moccasins live near the water, creeks, ponds, springs and ditches where there is water. Water moccasins are also called cotton mouths. They have a tendency to open their mouths really wide. The inside of their mouth is cottony white. It’s a bit like a cat hissing to scare away predators. The cotton mouth raises it’s head up high and shows the mouth.

©  2013 Nancy Sparks

Alone with My Purpose

We are not alone. We are never truly alone. What we do affects others. What we do causes ripples. What we do may be a small thing but it can spread. One small gesture can spark hope in someone. One small gesture of defiance can start a wave of change.

We are not small and insignificant. Not really. We are not too small. A grain of sand may seem insignificant until it is in your eye then it becomes very significant. Where is our significance? Are we looking for a single big even in our lives to make us significant? I think we shouldn’t. I think we are significant every day of our lives.

Yesterday I was significant in loading furniture at my neighbors garage sale. I was significant taking down the bulletin board at school. I was significant when I delivered boxes to the teachers. I was significant when I was empathetic and comforted a friend with legal issues. Did any of these require significant effort on my part? No.

We all have a purpose in this world. We have took past the everyday bills, jobs, school activities to try to see that purpose. What is the purpose? Perhaps we look too far when we try to find the next big invention as our purpose. Not to say that inventing isn’t your purpose. If you think your purpose is inventing and it is what you are driven to do, then it is your purpose. However, if a lofty goal or purpose overwhelms you and leaves you immobilized, then it’s probably not the right goal. Something is trying to tell you that you’re heading in the wrong direction. Maybe not heading, since you’re immobilized, more like pointing in the wrong direction.

So who am I to talk? I haven’t found my purpose yet. Maybe it’s to make waves. Whatever that big goal is, I have yet to find it.

©  2013 Nancy Sparks

An Old Chair, An Old House

An old wooden chair with dust in the crevices. The fabric turned smooth from the touch of human hands. Course cotton turned to oil cloth by touch of those hands. The oil from our touch is the evidence of our passing. Others would call the gross, tattered, unsightly and throw it out. To us, it was beautiful. It was ours. That they’d called it ugly and thrown it out had made it ours.

Sure we looked silly dragging that rusty old formerly red wagon down the street. Two girls and a couple of teenage boys balancing a tattered wing back rocking chair on that wagon. We drug it over to the feed store and talked Bob into letting us leave it on the loading dock until Dad came in for a load of feed. I think they’re going to miss our chair. Bob seems to like sitting in it while he waits for the next customer to be loaded. He pulls out the stuffing while he’s sitting there. I want to slap his hands. Our chair has little enough stuffing as it is.

We took the chair to Gran’s old house. It wasn’t a house you’d want to live in, at least not in winter. There wasn’t any insulation. There was an old wood stove but we were afraid to use it without the chimney being checked. It was just an old house in the middle of forty acres where my dad kept some cows. The barn was better. It had been a new roof. It was important. It sheltered hay for the cattle. This was just an old house that was too barren for anyone to want to rent.

It had been good enough for Gran but she’d died when I was five or six. What kind of family leaves their mother in a house with no insulation? I know it sounds bad but they felt it was more important to listen to Gran. Gran wanted to stay in her house. She wouldn’t even move out so they could know the walls about and put in proper insulation. She was afraid to move out of that house. It was the only place she’d lived since she came to these hills. So in spite of what people said, they left Gran alone. They didn’t send her to a nursing home. I think that’s why no one bulldozed the old place. They just wanted to leave Gran’s house and memories alone.

©  2013 Nancy Sparks

Alice Blue

The room is alice blue. Another paint company might have called it robin’s egg blue. The room was blue with a white ceiling and a water stain. The water stain looked like Abraham Lincoln in his top hat. The curtains were bed sheets. Floral bed sheets with blue cabbage roses on a white background with olive green leaves.

It was a bright room with windows all along the South wall. Two big windows with square panes of glass on the East wall. Nothing matched in that house, not the windows or the people. It was built in pieces. In some places there were axe marks on logs. In other places the logs had been cut with a chainsaw. Other parts of the house were built with modern lumber.

The blue room was cold in winter and hot in summer. It was full of mice, mold, and clutter but it was home. It was a safe haven full of books and found treasures. There were notebooks full of stories and dreams, thoughts of far away places and escape.

© 2013 Nancy Sparks