I loved living in the house on Everett Street. I grew up in a neighborhood where the streets had names. Our neighborhood laid between Burnside and Glisan. Everett Street was between Davis and Flanders. The friend with the pool was at the top of Everett Street and my best friend was on Flanders. the only time I went to Davis’ street was to delivery the afternoon newspaper. I had a series of gold-fish I named after the streets that surrounded my existence. The first pair was Everett and Flanders, then came Stark and Division, and finally Burnside and Glisan. But most of all I loved playing in my backyard.
I loved it back there. We had a Douglas Fir that grew at an angle along the fence line. It had been shimmied up and slid down so often that the bark was smooth. We had a tire swing, a garden, a green house made of old garage doors , bamboo the neighbor planted but grew on our side of the fence, and the “woods” to play in. The “woods” seemed so big to me, I believed I was really brave when I went back there to explore. Years later, when I stopped to see the house I realized the “woods” had been the back of the yard my Dad didn’t maintain. One of my special places in the backyard was a small space between the house and the neighbor’s fence. In that space my dad had leaned up an old ping-pong table against the house. There was just room enough for me to play under the table. It was damp and muddy under there, the perfect place for my “Mud Factory.”
I loved playing in the mud, making all sorts of delectable deserts, I’m not sure I ever offered my family any of my creations but I know my imaginary friends loved them. I loved the feel of the mud between my fingers and toes. Some of it was very thick and smooth, some was thin and gritty, each type of mud served a very important part in my imaginary culinary delights.
This past weekend I gardened. I pulled weeds and dug up bulbs. I moved plants from this spot to that. I added bowling balls and old rusty buckets so if my plants die or fail to bloom there will still be something to look at. I visited Wendy, my neighbor who has the gift of gardening, she gave me sedums, a fuchsia plant and some Vinca major. She even brought me a tractor scoop of her home-made compost, made from horse’s poop and yard waste.
I used Wendy’s special concoction and mixed it together with dirt from my garden and bags of potting soil to create my own “dirt”. I took off my gloves and as I began to mix the dirt with my bare hands the memories of my backyard on Everett Street began filling my thoughts. The picture of my “mud factory” was as vivid as if the ping-pong table was leaning up against my house. When I was young I made mud pies for my imaginary friends. Now that I’m older I play in the mud to create beauty for my family and friends, and both create the joy of a memory past and the anticipation of a memory made.