Saturday, October 21, 2006

dandelions and mudpies

When I was a kid, growing-up in the suburbs of Atlanta, I spent countless days playing in the backyard. I was fascinated with rollie-pollies and would search relentlessly turning over rotting logs and stones to find the little grey bugs. I loved the way they would curl-up into an impenetrable ball and if I was patient and very still the rollie-pollie would unfurl and crawl around, feeling safe in my palm.

One of my most favorite activities was dreaming-up culinary masterpieces in my plastic kitchen. I had a complete set of primary colored plates and plastic cups. I would crouch low to the ground and scavenge around the yard for acorns, shiny round stones, and pine cones. With these I would make salad and mixed vegetables. I would mix the red Georgia clay with potting soil and just a touch of water to form delicious meats and cheeses. Sometimes I'd add a handful of grass for consistency. I loved watching the mud cover blades of grass, turning the waxy bright green to reddish brown.

I'd mix all these things up on my tan plastic kitchen complete with stove and fridge. My mother actually moved the kitchen outside to the patio as she tired quickly of finding pine cones and dirt in the play room. The kitchen was way better outside anyway. Back there I had the world at my fingertips, a rich and colorful bounty to harvest every day. Buddy, our old German Shorthaired Pointer, would laze in the sun occasionally meandering over to my laboratory for a pat on the head or a dog treat from my apron. I remember crawling into his unused doghouse, which for years smelled like fresh-cut lumber, and scavenging for spiders and insects.

On top of the table, covered with a cherry print vinyl tablecloth, I'd place a vase full of artfully arranged grass clippings and dandelions. I'd spread out my epicurean delights on the blue and yellow plates, garnishing dishes with honeysuckle blossoms and clover. Desert was most often the plastic cupcakes with detachable rubber frosting. After dinner was served and my guests, usually imaginary friends and farm-hands, had gone home I would tidy-up the kitchen. Sweeping the concrete and rinsing dishes with the garden hose gave me satisfaction of a job well done. When everything was back in it's rightful place, I'd retire to a bed of pine needles under a tree. The umber needles smelled like contentment and swallowed me with their warm comfort. Sometimes Buddy would join me, and there we'd sit with a book, lounging for hours getting lost in stories and soaking in the sun.

Some things never change...


Anonymous said...

I love this. It really took me back. And I loved picturing a little Brita running around doing these things!
I used to do the same things, Brita. No wonder we understand each other so much.
Miss you, my sister of strength.

123Valerie said...

Aw, right on. I'm so glad that sense of play and creativity is still with you.

Now get in the kitchen and make me a mud-pie sammich, woman.