Monday, January 25, 2016

Shadows of Epoch: 41-50

Updated: January 25, 2016

In his book, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens referred to memories as being "shadows of the past". Okay, so I've never read the book, but the movie uses these words. Thus, a new chapter of my blog. I will be listing 50 (probably more) random childhood memories from my life that may or may not have an significant role in whom I have become as an adult. These are memories that will most likely be short without much detail. It's more of a blog entry for selfish reasons, but hopefully you'll get some enjoyment out of reading them. I'm hoping the more memories I think and write about the more details of my life I will remember. Here's hoping this serves as a catalyst for one of my goals of writing my life story for my daughters and grandchildren. 

FORTY-TWO: A Snowy Day's Routine

Growing up on Shady Hill snowy days were all the same. That's not to say they were boring. Quite the contrary. We lived for snowy days. We were too young to drive so we didn't need to be anywhere. The forecast told us to restock on wood for the stove so the big chores were finished. Simply put, life didn't get in our way. Sure we had school, but with enough snow came snow days making you feel everything was right with the world. 

Being surrounded by trees whose branches would supply bedding for the falling flakes helped to create a majestic-looking kingdom.  Sometimes inches of snow would cling to those branches weighing them down causing them to droop and kiss the wintry ground. Being tucked away from everybody else made it feel like the snow-filled world was all our-own even though civilization was right over the hill.

We would spend hours out in the snow mostly sledding, but there were snowball battles too. We imaginatively used trash can lids from the garage as shields. But our hearts were on the slope of Shady Hill. Our Everest. Which felt like Everest because with perfect conditions and a meticulously created track, we went a long way down. But it was worth the trudge to the peak.

Coming inside the warmth emerging from the wood stove - that my dad had prepped and fired up - would greet us as we shed all of our layers as clumps of snow would fall to the carpeted floor. But only briefly before being swallowed into the fibers.

Then it was movie time. It was the 80s so Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Rocky and Back to the Future were most certainly watched, but we were big on those on Disney Classics (i.e. The Love Bug) too. Popcorn, pretzels and soda. Nothing else was needed from our kitchen concession stand. 

Between movies, we would play pool. Lots of pool. Lots of tournaments. Remembering the crack of the billiard balls being struck apart and spread over the red felt (the best color for a pool-table by far) has as much impact on my level of nostalgia as does a photograph or a home video.

After pool would be more movies or sledding at night which with a starry night made you feel like the Millennium Falcon setting sail through space in hyper speed. Sometimes I would go out and shoot some hoops in the middle of a heavy snowfall while pretending to be: Barkley, Jordan, Magic, Bird, Wilkens and even Spud Webb. Watching Hoosiers usually got me outside shooting hoops faster than an Iverson crossover.

With all that happening on snowy days, there is something else that I remember. It wasn't an activity, but rather a scene. A visual whose beauty wouldn't evoke a spiritual message of grace in me until, well, now.

In our basement we had a patio door that set parallel to our pool table. Like most  doors, leading to the outside there was a set of switches. Three of them. Two of which turned on lights outside. One was the lamp mounted next to the door. The other to the woodshed about thirty paces away through the yard. One of my favorite things to do during a heavy snow was to periodically turn on one of the lights to the outside while pitch black and see how quickly the snow was accumulating. With each flick of the switch I witnessed Mother Nature painting our forest. The same picture each time, but different. This isn't what is evoking God's grace within me. It's the fact that one little flick, one small adjustment from the inside pushed the darkness away opening a whole new world. One small bulb created a heavenly view into God's purity and perfection.

With one flick, light appears and darkness loses.

I wonder how many of us are feeling burdened by something that's keeping us from seeing how powerful the light is and what it can reveal. It may seem like an arduous ordeal, but I have a feeling it comes down to one small adjustment. One thought. One commitment. One step of faith that drowns out the fear.

FORTY-ONE: The Neighbors

Our home on Shady Hill was tucked away in the woods that sat off route 896. For many years we didn't have next-door neighbors and when we did, we still had plenty of space between us and them - unlike neighborhoods here in Virginia where houses have very little space between. The closest house to us was up over the hill towards 896. We met them - or at least some of them - before we even moved in when the house was still being built. The oldest son had come over the hill on his three-wheeler and found people stealing concrete mix (or something like that). The two youngest sons ended up being good friends for awhile. My brother Evan and I would spend a lot of time at their house either swimming, jumping on the trampoline, playing soccer, riding three-wheelers (we weren't allowed to drive them ourselves) or riding bikes. I got to ride one of their horses too. 

We had trails behind their house in the woods with a ramp. One time I took my Mongoose over the ramp and didn't do something right - the movie Rad was probably in my head so I was most likely trying to do too much - and I fell backward slamming my back against the ground. I was fortunate there weren't any rocks. I had the wind knocked out of me for the first and only time in my life. It scared me. We spent a lot of time with Daryl and Dwayne and all of the sudden we didn't at all. Nothing happened other than life. Which I guess is what happens. We would still wave to them when passing by and some of the family came to my dad's viewing. It's just funny how quickly things change. I'm thankful for those years playing with them. Thinking back I think I'm more thankful that it allowed Evan and I to do things together other than fight.

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