Friday, April 17, 2009

White bricks and hollyhocks

When I was very young, maybe three or four years old, my mother and I stayed with my father's parents while Dad was in the army. My grandparents lived on a farm in central Illinois in an old two-story brick farmhouse painted white. I can picture the white paint chipping off the bricks, smell lye soap boiling in an iron pot over an open fire near the back porch, feel my fear and excitement as my grandfather lifted me onto the back of a mountainous brown work horse named Dolly.

The farmhouse is gone, torn down years ago. I still see it as clearly as if I'd visited the farm yesterday.

There, or perhaps later on another farm, clusters of hollyhocks were tucked in corners near a fence and behind a ramshackle shed. Turn an old-fashioned wooden clothespin legs down. Pull a hollyhock blossom over the head and secure it at the waist. Draw a face on the head of the clothespin. Add a leaf bonnet.

I think I'll plant hollyhocks in the corner of our yard near the fence this year.

And perhaps I'll put a white brick farmhouse in my next novel.

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