I don't know what got me started on this, but for some reason this morning I began trying to figure out which of my memories is the earliest.
I think it's this: My parents and my sister's family went to Des Moines to visit my brother's family. Jack and Wilma had a tiny house, with no room for overnight guests. So we spent the night at Wilma's mother's house. I was small enough that they put me in a baby crib, but old enough to know I was too big for a baby bed. They put the side up, which seems strange to me considering I didn't sleep in a baby bed at home any more. Lights were turned out and the house got quiet. I had trouble going to sleep, and realized I needed to go to the outhouse... but everybody was asleep and I didn't know how to get out of the bed and didn't even know where the outhouse was. I finally went to sleep and had a dream that I walked to the toilet and relieved myself, at which time I woke up in a wet bed. I was SO embarrassed.
At the switchboard at Guss, Iowa, I could stand on the mound that was the cellar, look in the proper direction, and in the distance see Ted Davies' farm, where my dad sometimes worked as a hired hand. One day when I knew Daddy was there, I decided to yell for him at the top of my lungs and find out if he could hear me. Then, as now, "the top of my lungs" was plenty loud, but I imagine Ted's place was a mile away, at least, so my shouting was in vain.
I remember my first day of school: I was five years old, and when my mom and I arrived, nobody was there except Mrs. Eighmy, the teacher. While I was being introduced to her, another mom arrived with her five-year-old son and it was suggested we go teeter-totter together. We obliged the adults, but I don't think we were either one that enthusiastic about it. That same year, during noon recess, I decided to use the teeter-totter as a slide and picked up a backside-full of splinters. I was miserable for the rest of the day, but too embarrassed to say anything, so I just sat at my desk holding back tears. What a relief to get home to Mama, who removed the splinters one by one.
That year I wanted a sled for Christmas, because at recess on snowy days, all the kids had their sleds with them and we spent recess sliding down a hill next to Skinner School. I had to share someone else's sled and take turns; I wanted my own. Santa brought me my sled, but it wasn't a white Christmas. I was outside playing a day or two later, looking at the sky and wishing for snow, and I decided to pray for snow. This is the first memory I have of saying a prayer. We went to church three times a week, but we didn't do table grace (unless we had company), and nobody ever told me to say bedtime prayers, although at some point I began to say the "now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep" prayer on my own every night. You can imagine my amazement when I got up the next morning to a winter wonderland. My first ever prayer-all-by-myself worked! I have to say, though, that none of my prayers for a pony got any further than the ceiling, until after I was married.
In the middle of all this reminiscing, I got a flashback of myself lying on my back in the grass, looking up at the sky and watching clouds floating overhead, moving across the sky. This is something I did often as a child, at various ages and places. I remember feeling as though I was floating with the clouds.
I asked myself, "When is the last time you lay in the grass and watched clouds go by?"
This coming spring, I intend to do just that. With bad knees, getting up and down is difficult, but I AM going to lay in the grass.