Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Chinaberry Trees

I've heard Mac (Wallace to his family) talk about his Grandfather's Chinaberry trees, or Umbrella trees to clarify it (apparently there are two types) forever. He talks about how the temperature beneath the Chinaberry seems to be a good fifteen degrees cooler , something you discover as soon as you walk beneath the shade. He remembers everyone sitting around under the trees talking...the old men, anyway, the boys were to full of fireflies to sit still and talk or stand still and listen to the tales being told beneath that old tree's branches. They were to busy being rambunctious and chasing each other through the yards and down the dirt roads and over the fields. They might stop and fling themselves down on the ground and hang on an old man's words long enough to cool down in the shade of that huge canopy, thereby getting part of a story, neither knowing nor caring that they would get the rest of the story in some history class down the road. Oh, the loss of hearing the whole story and hearing it first hand. History books never get it exactly right. What is history anyway, but his story? The old folks always had these metal chairs that rocked back and forth,(sometimes coming dangerously close to the ground when they rocked back in laughter at some banter from a friend) and the chairs had square holes punched in their backs for ventilation. Of course somewhere nearby was the matching glider that the Grandma's and Aunts occupied, beans being snapped and shelled, the sound like a small explosion as they hit the metal dishpan held in their laps. They would be in low conversation with each other, not wanting anyone to overhear them, especially the children. Grandma would cackle and the other younger ones would cluck their disapproval. The yards then were just outside rooms, no air conditioning was in these homes. The yard furniture was always green with white trim, it seems. He remembers the long summer days spent in the company of his cousins, some of whom were as close as brothers, the suppers that his Aunt Laverne fixed, the sheer weight of food making the table groan. Then later on just as it was getting dark the games being played by all the young ones, "Ain't no mad dogs out tonight" (Grandpa killed them all last night) seems to be a universal game of tag with a twist. I don't think we realize how tied to our Grandparents we are till we become grandparents ourselves. It's then that we remember the good times we had when we were under their care. We want our own grandchildren to have the same experiences we had. We want them to know that Grandpa killed all the mad dogs, there's nothing to fear, and all the joys of childhood lay beneath the Chinaberry tree.

9 comments:

Mary said...

Hi
I didn'y know my grandparents very well but can imagine the scene. I used to love shelling peas with my mother and her sister,who lived close to us for a while. They laughed a lot and I did to but probably didn't undersstand what they were laughing at !

Teri said...

Nice Blog :)

Jodie Adams said...

What a sweet story. I could really use a chinaberry tree over here. It is blazing outside!!

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

That's such a lovely post-it makes me imagine what it must be like to live in your part of the world! x

Country Cottage Chic said...

Sadly I grew up away from my grandparents & we didn't have the instant communication that we have today, but whenever we were able to spend time with them the bond was instantly there.

Kari said...

Is it my old age that's making me think more and more of the time spend at Grandma and Grandpa's? lol I love this post. I'll probably read it over and over and over again. Remember the two Chinaberry's Grandpa had in the front yard? We tried a couple of times to grow one - those pesky black thumbs kept getting in the way, though. lol But I do love the shade they give. My redbud tree doesn't quite accomplish what the chinaberrys did when it comes to shade.

Pris said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog. Ruby used to be one of our sports competitors when I was in high school, so small world indeed!

This post brought back so much. In Pageland, we had a chinaberry tree out back and those berries were VERY useful for pea shooters and slingshots (banned today) :-)

I grew up before central A/C and heat,too. We would heat up robes on the stove in the den, wrap them around us, then dive into the icy cold beds until our body heat started warming the space under about 5 army blankets in the coldest months. In the summer...well, lots of lemonade and sitting out on porches for sure.

Those also were the days when you only locked your door if you were going out of town and if somebody knocked at the front door, you knew it was a stranger right away.

Love this writeup!!!

You know what i'd give anything for is a nice bucket of just picked scupernongs (I can say it and ate them all those years but can't spell it...ohhhhh). Do you still have those anywhere near by?

Thanks for visiting my website, too.

Pris said...

Hi Sandi
Yes, I'll be back to your blog! I so wish I could travel up there again but CFIDS has me dizzy and mostly housebound. The hour's drive , with my husband driving, down to the doctor who treats me for this wears me out for days. I've wanted so badly to come back up to the Carolinas and hope that's possible one day!

Kat-in-a-flap. said...

My grandmother was a very broad minded French woman.....Lets just say she completed my education......I adored her...happy memories.
Kat x