You could hear the kids yelling up and down the block as those familiar.. and oh so repetitive…melodies grew louder and louder. Summer days and early evenings interrupted by the sounds of the approaching Ice cream man! Ice cream man!. Always shouted in double time…and always “man” because…well it was always a man. I hopefully imagine that in 2021, there are women driving as well.
My sister, brother and I must have had super sonic hearing because we were out the door or across the yard in seconds – quarters clutched in sweaty hands (if we were lucky enough to finagle them from Mom). We needed to make it to the curb before the truck went by. Chasing it down our suburban street was just not the same, although we took off after it whenever necessary.
It was always a Good Humor truck. My favorite ice cream bar was the one with the candy bar inside, but it cost more so I rarely bought it. Chocolate Eclair or Toasted Almond were my usual go-to choices.
The truck featured in this square photo was parked out of the way at the National Zoo in Washington, DC during a visit in 2019. Plugged in and keeping cold. When I saw it kinda tucked in under several trees, branches resting on its roof…I thought of all the times when the sights and sounds of a simple ice cream truck became the highlight of my day. A blast from the past.
There is a tree on this square (!) album cover…so it is joining the Treesquare challenge today. “Tea for the Tillerman” also happens to be one of my all-time favorite albums. I don’t know if I’ve ever really noticed the tree before, but now that I have, it just ups this album on my meter of favorites.
Those two kids climbing the tree? Well, one of them could have been me way back in the day between the ages of 4 and 11. When I had what I called a Climbing Tree in the front yard of our small home. I don’t recall what kind of tree it was; only that its branches were at just the right height for me to grab, gain a foothold…and up I’d go.
We also had a backyard, but it felt more like a cage. My father installed a split rail fence around the entire perimeter and then covered it with chicken wire – ostensibly so my sister, brother & I wouldn’t escape and flee wander off into traffic. Except there was very little (no) traffic, so maybe it was because of my little brother – so he could be sent out there to play unsupervised. He did tend to wander. I’d try to get away with climbing over the fence, as the gate was locked, but I was soon discovered.
The thing is…I loved the front yard. Much freer place to play. No fence. No boundaries but the street curb. Plus a tree to climb and hide in when it was leaved out. I spent hours balanced on branches…”spying” on unsuspecting passersby and imagining exciting stories about what adventures they might be up to! Perhaps too many “saving the day” Saturday morning cartoons; although more likely it probably coincided with my addiction to Nancy Drew books. Perhaps I was developing my own “The Clue in The Climbing Tree” or “The Secret in the Street.” Unfortunately I have yet to unearth any photographs of my tree in the boxes of old photos stacked high in my closets.
Decades later I happened to drive through that NJ suburb on a family trip and was curious to see the “old house” again. Sad to say the tree was gone. Gone! The house, unfortunately, remained frozen in time. Nothing had been done to maintain it. Peeling paint. Overgrown shrubbery. Junk piled up and down the crumbling driveway. The 1950s windows…dirty and tired. A sad sight.
The climbing tree was a rare happy place from that time in my life. A special perch and hide-out all in one. Perhaps it’s just as well I remember it that way.
Let’s not forget how this post started…Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf, released an incredible collection of brilliant songs on “Tea for the Tillerman” in 1970. As you can tell from the faded & worn album cover, it was well loved and spent little time on a shelf. We all have at least one album where we remember every word to every song…and know what song will come next as each one finishes. I know it’s cliché – but in this case…I think these songs are timeless. Below is a link to one from this album (and it’s hard to choose just one, so if you can, check out the whole record):
I happened upon a gathering of daffodils a few days ago…basking in the spotlight of the afternoon sun. One was gazing into the distance as if surveying the crowd. Which, at that point, was just me and the tall arborvitaes off to the side. The trio to its right? Ready and waiting.
It was a glorious warm afternoon and the entertainment was enjoyed by all…well, just me and the arborvitaes. But well worth it as the finale ensued…
…and the spotlight moved on as the afternoon came to a close.
What happened to this poor tree? What is the story? I noticed it right away – close to the edge of my walking path last month. Since all the trees had dropped their leaves, this one’s wounds were clearly visible. No longer hidden from view. Layers of bark stripped away.
I suspect it just happened to be in the way of a town or utility company brush clearing project. Left damaged and forgotten. A sad sight.
…he asked as he swabbed my upper left arm round and round with an alcohol wipe…hypodermic needle poised above my exposed skin in the cold winter air.
I was sitting in the driver’s seat of my car in the parking lot at our local high school. Cars & pickup trucks were lined up behind the lot until directed to park in every other space to wait. The scene was similar to 3 weeks earlier when I received my first shot. New Hampshire National Guard personnel were in charge and the process was smooth and professional.
This past Wednesday I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Scheduling had been an anxiety filled website challenge, but my online persistence paid off. Despite all of that, I was filled with an overwhelming gratitude to finally be able to take my turn.
However…excited? Not really. I am just too exhausted – and perhaps numb – from the past year for that quite yet.
As he plunged the needle into my arm, injecting hope for the future, I answered him…