Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Pine Straw Playhouse

Goodness, it was a hot day. The last weekend in February on the Gulf Coast brought with it spring time temperatures that crept daringly close to summer heat. My assignment was to rake a season's worth of pine straw from the back yard. Blistered hands and a sunburned face tempted me to yield to the siren's call of the sofa. Suddenly, something pretty wonderful happened.

A light breeze began to blow. It was not strong enough to stir my piles of pine straw and undo my hard work.  It was, however, strong enough to stir something precious...a memory. I closed my eyes, enjoyed the breeze and jumped back in time.

As a preschooler, I spent many spring and summer days with my grandparents in their getaway spot- a small travel-trailer that sat on a wide open space filled with the trees for which the piney woods of southeast Texas are appropriately named. Pine straw littered the beautiful expanse. For most, raking might be viewed as an unwelcome chore. To my grandmother, the pine straw became the means to transport her precocious granddaughter to a magical place where imagination and creative juices ran as swiftly as the waters of the streams in nearby woods.

With rake in hand, she swept the carpet of pine needles into neat rows, a few inches wide and several feet long. At her direction, I would skip along beside her, picking up and piling up the pine straw this way and that. To the unimaginative eye, this was simply a series of rectangles and squares connecting and intersecting. To my grandmother, this was the blueprint for a Pine Straw Playhouse.

"How many rooms do you want?" she asked.
"As many as we can have!" I squealed.

We built the rows about six inches high--higher in one corner for a 'fireplace'. We then sat down and with eyes closed, we used only our imagination to decorate each room (including a white canopy bed and fluffy pink bedspread for my bedroom.) We furnished the entire Pine Straw Playhouse with only the power of our imagination.

Back to reality, I stood still in my back yard; the memory of this sweet and uncomplicated day was so powerful. It filled my heart with an odd combination of melancholy and delight.
As I opened my eyes, I smiled. No one else was around. No one else was even home. It was just me. Me and my memories of Mama and the Pine Straw Playhouse.
I strolled to the middle of my back yard and slowly, I began once again to rake. This time, I raked the needles not into random piles, but into straight lines. They ran this way and that. Rows of pine straw connected and intersected. I piled it up high in one corner for a fireplace, and used my mind's eye to decorate each room as I went along. The time flew by. The grumpiness and fatigue I'd felt earlier melted away.
The flashback to the Pine Straw Playhouse reminded me of the importance of finding fun in our daily routine, and of the importance of creating memories with those we love the most.

It's true what they say.
The best things in life... aren't things.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Drexel .. I've come over from Leigh .. loved your pine needle story - quite the memory bank reminder .. we forget so much - but back of the mind .. they are there for retrieval.

    Good luck and enjoy your blogging life .. cheers Hilary