Henry David Hawthorne said, “Spring appears… and we are once more children.”
I couldn’t have said it better, and it is true. As springtime ushers in her gentle rains and warm weather, we all become as “children,” I suppose. Expecting the “newness” once more; a reoccurring hope of better, more beautiful times ahead.
I look for the swelling buds of trees and flowers and the sounds of the “peeper” down by the creek. I suppose they really are frogs, but I love that woeful little peep that echoes over the meadows and glens in springtime.
They are reminiscent of a time long ago; of a springtime long years past when, as a child of 9 or 10, I lived for spring and the world opened up in the woodlands and creek bottoms of my beloved old home place. I could hardly wait, so I could prowl the woods for critters to see; for wild flowers to pick; for the wonderful “production” Mother Nature put on in springtime, which I imagined was just for me.
This particular springtime, my uncle Vernon from Indiana had visited us (as usual) and this time, he brought “me” a genuine (slightly used) suede leather jacket with this marvelous fringe down the sleeves, across the back and front too. It was the color of good brown earth and I loved it! Uncle Vernon was always bringing us something when he visited, but usually it was Brother, Dad or Mama who got the yearly treat. This spring, it was me!
As I slipped into the wonderful jacket, which reeked of a rich, old leathery smell, life took on a new meaning for me. Although a bit too large across the shoulders and the sleeves just a tad too long, I thought it a perfect fit! As I stood there staring at my reflection in that spotty old mirror from Mama’s dresser, I may as well have been Annie Oakley, more maybe Daniel Boone, in person (in living technicolor). I mean, all I needed was a coon skin cap, and well, I was his twin for sure. I pose sideways, admiring the way the fringe flapped and moved.
“What do you think, King?” I asked my beloved dog and hunting buddy as I dashed outside wearing my new jacket, carrying my old single shot .22, three bullets and high hopes for a great springtime adventure.
He sat there, looking at me, tilting his head as if to say, “This kid’s done lost her marbles. I’m kind of ashamed to go into the woods with her wearing this flapping, smelly coat!”
But off we went. I shall never forget that lovely spring day. The breeze was soft and warm with the fragrance of trillium and wild plum with birds and critters, as the sun kissed our faces. The “peepers” were calling in unison from the swamp. What a day!
As I scampered along, I saw King bristle up ahead and freeze in his tracks. He saw “something” so I slipped a bullet in the chamber of my old .22 and crept up to where he stood frozen in his tracks. There, coiled up at his feet, was a huge “chicken” snake. As I pulled the rifle up to my shoulder gently and “clicked” the old single shot, ready to shoot, the snake must’a heard me for he made a rapid slither through the grass and off we went, in a wild chase – me, my dog and that snake. In the mad dash, I forgot about my rifle being cocked and ready to fire.
As the snake slithered under a barbed wire fence, I hit the ground and began to crawl under the fence in pursuit. At that instant, my old .22 fired – crack! And my heart nearly stopped! I don’t know if I hit the trigger or whether the “jar” as I hit the ground made the discharge, but fire it did, and the bullet tore through the fringe on my sleeve – sending leather fringe flying everywhere.
“Oh, me!” I whispered as King ran up to where I sat. “Am I bleeding ol’ boy? Am I shot?”
A closer inspection revealed that the bullet had skimmed my sleeve at the elbow, tearing away the fringe, but it didn’t penetrate the leather itself, or injure my arm in any way. I was lucky – extremely lucky!
“Oh Lord, thank you,” I exclaimed. “Thank you for not letting me shoot myself. Thank you for this wonderful leather coat.”
King stood over me, wagging his tail and forgetting the “long gone” snake.
As I stood to me feet, I vowed to be more careful and I decided I’d best not tell Mama ‘bout this ‘cause she’d surely put a damper on my hunting escapades. Maybe she wouldn’t notice the big gaps in that lovely fringe along my sleeve – and she didn’t.
I didn’t tell her about the incident until many years later. And, sure enough, she scolded me just a bit – although it happened many, many springs ago. (But that’s okay, she was just being Mama.)
That wonderful coat finally wore out, and like a lot of things, it’s memory lies tucked away in my heart.
But in spring, I think of that sunfilled day long ago. I visualize that innocent time, as I ran free as a bird, along creeks and fields, wearing that wonderful fringed coat that, thanks to the good Lord, saved my arm.
“Once more as children?” Would that it be, dear readers… would that it could be.
Till next time.