Garden Road - December 23, 2014 My mom positioned the Christmas tree in our east window every year, taking the spot normally reserved for the sewing machine. The sewing machine became a decoration itself, with a miniature city in winter I could imagine being filled with laughter, and a skating rink made of aluminum foil. The smell of the pine, spruce or cedar that first day after I got home from school meant the holidays had arrived. The aroma faded as the tree dried. It is why I burn candles now of that sacred green incense, since our tree is artificial. It would probably not be the same if I were to burn those branches. Dec 22, 2014, 09:14
Garden Road - December 16, 2014 When we were seniors in high school, they bused us out to the old two-story building in Cambria for our class photograph. We lined up on the fire escape. Some of my classmates wondered whether we could have chosen a better location, but I was fine with the choice. I have fond memories from that place, where I mass-produced words in my blue spiral notebooks, preparing myself for work 25 years later. My sisterís class chose the bubble at the elementary for their senior photograph, remembered fondly from their playground days, and then burst it under their increased high school weight.
We were the last students to attend both years of junior high in Cambria, where caution tape warned of asbestos removal, not far from Streetís Trading Post and its maple cluster Christmas candy. I spent almost two hours during the school day on a bus, from home to Corydon, from Corydon to Cambria. That was around the time, 1988 to 1990, when Chris Street moved from Wayne County to Indianola, and then began his basketball career at the University of Iowa, before the automobile accident with a snowplow. After his death, my classmate Troy Annis wore number 40 the rest of our junior year. Dec 12, 2014, 10:11
Garden Road - December 9, 2014 My son Wes helped me decorate our Christmas tree over Thanksgiving weekend, one day after he helped his grandma decorate her tree. That afternoon, I assembled it while he took a nap. Wes was astounded at its massive size at the north end of the playroom as he rubbed his eyes. Itís not often we place trees inside of our house, even though they might be artificial and sometimes flattened from years of storage. The next best thing for Wes would be if we blew snow into the kitchen, or scattered leaves and mud in the office.
When Wes helped his grandma with her tree, she remembered how I always put one ornament on firstóa homemade red dove that she had sewn before I was born. In Kindergarten, I took that bird for show-and-tell to Mrs. Johnsonís class, and that must have stuck with me. I always hung it in the same place, right below the cedarís crown. I was ritualistic in my decorating. This year, the ritual got passed down, and Wes repeated my annual first step. My mom must have found my OCD endearing, because she was the one who told Wes thatís how he should begin. Dec 8, 2014, 08:33
Garden Road - December 2, 2014 It seems odd that there are microscopic devils called viruses invisible to the naked eye. I am struggling with one right now. It is a form of possession. The common cold at its onset, with all of its benefits. I apologize, because this condition might make my writing appear somewhat less lucid than usual. And try explaining the concept of germs and viruses to a five-year-old boy. Iím sure it sounds crazy to Wes, as he requests a helicopter from the Santa Claus in the new Hy-Vee (coincidently, I first saw Santa at the old Hy-Vee). Earth is a world of both Santa Claus and viruses, which Wes must learn soon enough. Dec 2, 2014, 10:18
Garden Road - November 25, 2014 One Thanksgiving, I learned how to juggle. It was at my uncle Davidís house in south Des Moines, with his sloping backyard that became a football field after the feast. In the dining room, my cousin Mary Alleyís husband, Keith, showed me the steps for beginning jugglers, from one ball to three balls, to keep them suspended in air with kinetic energy and rhythm. I was in junior high; however, I did not practice those steps until I was in college. Itís like learning to ride a bike. You can know how, but still not be able to juggle until youíve practiced. Then you never forget. I heard that learning how to juggle could make you more intelligent; I figured it couldnít hurt.
As a family, we always traveled to a relativeís house for the last Thursday in November. I do not recall many cloudy Thanksgivings, even when we drove to Ankeny to my cousin Loriís for a day of Atari, snow covering the ground. The snow just made the sun brighter. Nov 24, 2014, 08:39