Learning From Grandfather
My brother and I are playing on the porch steps, and are being watched intently by my grandmother. She gently rocks on the old cream colored swing, which proclaims of its lack of oil with every movement of its chains. The green indoor-outdoor carpeting that covers the steps too shows its age, with concrete poking through the edges. It scratches my legs as I sit and build things with my legos, but I have gotten used to the feeling. Today isn’t too hot, but the cool breeze that blows through is a welcome change.
That breeze rustles through the lone apple tree that stands in the center of the yard. To my young eyes the tree seems ancient, worth nothing more than the robins nest in its twisted old branches, the apples it manages to produce worm ridden and sour. But while the quality was low, the quantity was large enough that apples littered the ground.
This was quite evident as my Dad moved the grass. The drone of the engine and blade would stop every few seconds as applesauce was made. The mower was an older model and hadn't a bag, so pieces of the apples could be fired a distance. To prevent this, my grandpap and Dad would rake up most of them, but a few were always missed.
As Dad cut the grass, my Grandpap, dressed in his white tee shirt and blue pants as always, raked the grass into several neat piles. The scent of freshly mown grass and tart apple mingled with the ozone smell of the air. A wonderful scent, if only it were not interrupted with a bout of headache inducing exhaust from the mower. I, as the eldest child, had the honor of helping rake up the grass. Later in the day, when Dad had finished, the mounds would be transferred to a metal garbage can, and then taken down the alley to the refuse pile.
My grandmother had her hands full watching us; my brother was four and I was two years older at six. As most children are at those ages, we could get bored very easily. Grandma was quite adept at keeping my brother busy, showing him a cicada shell or the like, but I got bored with my legos. Grandpap was gathering the fallen apples from the ground beneath the tree and was piling them near the trunk. I ran over and started to help him. I liked helping him, as it made me feel important. As usual my brother soon followed, but declined to help.
There was another thing that the apple tree was good for, but I had forgotten to mention it. We had invented a game earlier in the year. You would put your hand on the tree, and then run around it as fast as you could, keeping your hand on the trunk the whole time. Usually we counted the number of times around, I think the top score was thirty-five. You ended up getting so dizzy that you couldn’t continue and either sat down or fell down. Later on this game would be abolished, when my cousin would manage to make himself throw up after repeated attempts to break the record.
Mike started off pretty good, he managed about ten revolutions...