Come back with me to 1209 3rd Ave, for a few more memories. Here is one of those great old pecan trees that we had in our backyard. Great for climbing, and hiding behind, and cooking!
Here is Joy filling her pool! Look behind her…next to the house,beside the steps, is the basement door…it’s standing open…
There was always much to do in the backyard. And, it was there that I began experimenting with combining differing tastes and textures to come up with my own delicious offerings. We had a most delightful sand, along with a rich dark soil, and a smattering of red clay. Mixed together, it looked delicious. At the right time of the year, I would have the most wonderful green tassel from the big pecan trees in the yard.
See them there at the bottom of the picture. I could strip the tiny little pollen granules off the stem and add them to the soup or stew I had been working on all morning. They were also great for decorating the top of a pie or cake.
In our front yard we had a beautiful wisteria vine. It grew up the telephone pole that was next to the street, right by where we kept the garbage cans. Ours was a much travelled road, and we were not allowed to play there, BUT…that was where the wisteria was. And, it held some strange hold over 2 little girls.
The seed pods of the wisteria vine as they are growing have an incredible softness…almost like velvet.
Blooming, the flowers have an intoxicating aroma. Just saying the name of the plant brings that sweet scent up from my memory bank to delight me again! Bees like them, too! Alot!!!
Then there were the drying seed pods…you actually can hear them when they popped! The seeds were then blown about by the wind to take hold in some fertile ground and start another vine. IF the 2 little girls, and their posse, did not get them first.
It really wasn’t fair that the vine was in the front yard. Really, it wasn’t. It sang a song to entice us when it was in full bloom! (Or that could have been the bees…) The beautiful purple blooms would mix into the dish of the day, and it was possible to take the individual flowers and place them ‘just so’ on top for the final presentation.
And, when summer faded and the seed pods were doing their popping dance, the vine, all naked with branch after branch twisting and tangled and turning, beckoned us to come and listen. It begged us to take of its bounty of little seeds inside the pods and use them any way we could imagine. The beautiful wisteria was doing it all for us!
The problem…and it was a big one…was how to partake of its glorious bounty without being seen by Mama. Because, she had this thing about obedience! If we didn’t obey…there would be consequences. Yes, Ma’am there WOULD be consequences. And, while I know I could have explained to her just WHY we had gone down ‘the path of unrighteousness’, she was not in the mood to listen when her girls had strayed. And, she had a way of ‘explaining’ to us just how unhappy she was! We always got the message loud and clear!OBVIOUSLY WE WERE BEING OBEDIENT HERE!
However, that ‘demon’ wisteria was working against her. It was pulling her girls to disobedience just as hard as she was pulling us toward obedience. And, there we were, 2 pitiful, sweet, little angel girls…caught in the middle.
How, pray tell, can a budding chef , along with her assistant, prepare her dishes without the necessary ingredients? There MUST be some way to get the wisteria petals and seeds from the FRONT yard to the BACK! And, so, we became quite creative. Sometimes, we would have contests, and whomever would lose had to sneak to the front yard, creep up to the bush, gather enough supplies, and get back before getting caught! See, there were always younger kids around, who could not run or jump or swing as high as we could. So, they would lose. It was just the way of the world on 3rd Ave. Hard-knock life, it was.
Sometimes, we would get my buddy, David, to go get them. Now, David and his 3 brothers lived right next door. He could ride his bicycle anywhere, even IN THE STREET! Poor Mrs Mary had her hands full…4 boys!. So, when David was around, he would go get us a big bunch. He had to do this surreptitiously though, because what boy would want to be seen picking flowers for the backyard girls? So, he would grab some and go…sometimes bruising the delicate flower in the process. He did the best he could…boys just don’t always see the big picture! Like a finished cake, pie and 2 soup dishes done by noon! They MUST be decorated!
There was another boy in the neighborhood, Michael, but he was a ‘whiney, baby tattletale’ so we only used him as a last resort.
EVER TRY TO WASH A CAT?
There were, then, times when Joy or I would be forced to take forbidden road. We would go out the fence gate on the far right side of the yard. This is where the banana tree was. HE-ELL-O-O! Plant the ever so interesting, educational bit of foliage where the kiddies can’t watch it, OK.? We never once caught it making any bananas…but, we could have kept our eye on it IF it had been in the backyard! Anyway, I digress. Out the fence gate, and down the row of forsythia planted between our front yard and the McCord’s. There were 8 bushes…and then the wisteria. We would always move over to the McCord’s yard and try to hide behind the forsythia, moving with quick little hops and jumps between each bush. And, we would stay on their side when we got to the street…even though it was much better pickins’ on our side! We always carried a bucket to gather our supplies. And, there were always those infernal bees! It was a quick lesson that you do not slap a bee! I’m just saying…Then, there was the L O N G trip back down the row of bushes, past the banana tree, through the gate, to safety. We would sit quietly there in the shade for a while…trying to regain normal breathing and listening for the slam of the backdoor. It was possible to tell the kind of mood Mama was in by the sound of the slam! Really! It could be just a normal, walking out the door and letting it slam behind you OR it could be a quick, hard slam that signalled someone had opened it and forcefully slammed it closed. Oh! we did not like to hear that second kind! But, if we did, we’d quickly hid the bucket under the azalea bushes just inside the gate…and then hurriedly sit down and look all innocent and pious!
“Hi Mama! You look real purty! —Ma’am? —You thought you heard the gate open and close? Really! Well, we’ve been sitting right here. Just us two loving sisters enjoying playing together like little angels. —No, Ma’am! —We know about going to front yard. —Yes, Ma’am! We remember what will happen if we go outside the gate. —Yes, Ma’am, we promise to stay inside the fence!” And, we would, NOW that we had what we needed!
Me? I just took all this reconnaissance in stride. It was something that had to be done, and I was careful to plan and carry out the mission as quickly and quietly and as inconspicuously as possible.
Joy, I think, just wet her pants!
What a delightful way to start my day, Tonja … and I'm still laughing as I write this.
I just love your stories about your and Joy's adventures … whether they're about when you were little and foraging the forbidden wisteria vine for seed pods, or now that you're all grown up and wear two kinds of shoes out in public, and Joy drives on sidewalks.
Like our mutual friend Rachel, you evermore have a way with words and never cease to entertain, inspire, and delight me.
I hope to hear more of your stories about growing up on Third Avenue … what precious memories (and pictures) you have.
What fun stories and pictures! I love that you are writing all this down so that one day those who come after you will be able to read about your childhood. Precious post!
You should write a book and have it published! I have loved these two posts about your old stomping grounds! Makes me feel like I grew up right beside you. 🙂
I can't imagine my stories or details would be as exciting.
You are an absolutely marvelous yarn-spinner!! I was with you all the way—the heat, the sun, the trepidation, the watchful eye and ear for getting caught.
And those wisteria blooms, hanging there like delicious grapes in their perfect swags—I long for wisteria and crepe myrtle, and I can smell it right now, sweet and musky in the heat of the day.
Do you know, I have probably shelled more Wisteria and cleome peas than real ones from the garden, and was just as persnickety about how mudpies looked as I am now with a cake.
This was like being back in my own childhood (but with a gaggle of boys wanting me to COOK THEM SOMETHING while they fought off dragons or wild men or lions. Good luck; I had my own sword).
I loved reading this and will look forward to more of your Third Avenue Adventures. You make it sound better than Neverland, and I declare, you're more fashionable going to the hospital than I've ever been for parties!!
Great memories, great stories!! I'm so glad Joy and you are such good friends, because you do give her a hard time!!
Buttering up your mama with compliments, so funny. And then you get the other kids to go and get the wistera, very clever! Thank you for the ride down memory lane. This is a sweet memory to leave for future generations to read. I love that idea!
You really do wonders with the written word my friend. I felt like I was right there with you, sneaking, plotting, sweating, swatting and mixing mud pies! Oh! How I remember those days, we didn't have a wisteria bush…but we did have a mimosa tree (it was fabulous for climbing, too) that was loaded with pink poofy flumes and seed pods…we all shared in making delicious creations with each plucked item!! It was in our front yard as well…WHY? did the back yard have to be so void of these culinary (albeit slightly earthy) wonders??? I was a little luckier than you and Joy…b/c our street wasn't busy…but I KNEW never to step off that curb and out into the street unless an adult was there to supervise…I think I may have "tested" the waters on that one a few times myself! What child doesn't want to just stretch the limits a "smidge" every now and then!
I tell you…you had me laughing at the wonderful story…but when I saw the picture of Joy…"whaaaaing"…and the line…"wet her pants"…WELL, I almost did!!
I also loved the picture of Joy filling her pool….even at a very young age…she knew how to relax, take her time and enjoy…after all she had the forthought to pull up a chair while filling that pool! Too cute! I also thought you were rather "dolled" up for that tonsilectomy…oh my…I remember the day I left home for that same procedure…I'll share that with you at a later date!
What great memories you girls have and I for one am LOVING reading all about life on Third Avenue…it was very similar to mine on King Street! Yes, I thought we were royalty, too!!!