Today would have been my grandmother’s 86th birthday had she not passed away in 1998. She used to live way, way out in the country in Breckenridge County, Kentucky, and I would often spend large chunks of my summer vacations at her house exploring the woods and cornfields, sleeping on a feather mattress, and catching up on my pleasure reading. I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy during a weekend at her house and still remember lying in bed at four in the morning, an oscillating fan providing the only noise, and getting lost in Middle Earth.
There are many other memories of that place as well. My grandmother sometimes grew strawberries and other assorted fruits and vegetables in her various gardens. Grape vines grew on a structure near her garage and I can remember checking them during every visit to see if the grapes were ripe enough to eat. Gooseberry plants grew near a shed on the other end of the house and I had to compete with the martins that nested near there for the berries. Usually I lost. I can remember the year the tornado picked the barn up and set it back down, in far worse condition, a few yards away. The first time I saw the Goodyear blimp in person was in the front yard there, flying overhead with its fans whirring louder, for a few minutes, louder than the cicadas. I fell in the creek near the house once in November while out with my dad and had to walk home shivering from the cold and listening to my father try to contain his laughter. There were long walks along the gravel road that led to the house, walks where I would invent stories of the fantastic not too far removed from what I do today.
Not surprisingly, that house is one of the places I return to often in my dreams. There is some connection that keeps drawing me back, some psychic link I’ve never fully understood and, for the most part, never really wanted to. Some places should stay the way we see them as children, full of laughter and imagination, and though I have been back to that house, at least driven by it, since my grandmother moved away nearly fifteen years ago, the place still remains as a haven of my childhood. I suppose that someday I will have to write a story about it, or at least set there. Why let a good psychic link go to waste?
So, happy birthday Mamaw!