Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pine Needles and Puberty

I have a few minutes.  Both boys are asleep (I am now the proud mother of TWO boys...and a few more gray hairs), and I'd like to get back into writing, when I can.  It's just fun for me, and I need a little creative outlet to break up the routine.  However, the current state of my brain is muddled at best, so I need a little help.  I found a list of writing prompts online, and when I get the itch (and time) to write, I'll simply draw one of these topics from a jar, and see where it takes me.

So today's prompt: What memories are brought on by the smell of pine needles?

This one was a little too easy for me.  We never had a real Christmas tree (well, maybe once).  And that was fine by me...I loved putting the color-coded wire branches in the holes on the wooden "trunk".  So, pine needles don't evoke any warm Christmas memories for me.  Cinnamon does.

However, pine needles do evoke very strong memories of 906 Rountree, the address where I grew up as a little kid (until third grade).  We lived in a small white house across the street from the Junior High.  Tall pine trees lined the front of the junior high building, and during summer vacation, my brother Adam and I would spend a lot of time in our "club house" under the pine trees.  It seemed that there was enough room under the trees that we could almost stand up.  Dry brown pine needles covered the ground underneath, along with stray sappy pine cones.

But the real fun came from our treasure hunts.  We would go around the building, hunting for lost items that the junior high students may have dropped or left behind.  And we really struck it rich when it came to locker keys and pencils.  One time, I found this really nice heavy gold pen.  It was the kind you had to twist to open...and I don't think I'd ever encountered one of those before.  Surely it must have been worth at least a thousand dollars.

While most of the trees around the junior high were of the pine variety, there was one truly amazing tree on the side of the building.  A buckeye tree.  I remember going over there with my parents and brother and hunting for buckeyes, peeling the shell off to reveal a perfectly soft wooden buckeye in the middle.  Those were amazing.  I don't think I've found another buckeye tree since then, but I've had my eye open for one ever since.

So...flash forward a few years.  Pine needles remind me of being IN junior high, hanging out in front of the building with the other preteens, waiting for school to begin every day.  Oversized windbreaker jackets, clunky platform shoes, wide-leg jeans, plastic resin rings, and extreme awkwardness in general (wouldn't have it any other way!).  I don't know if it ever dawned on me that I was, suddenly, one of the "big kids" dropping treasures on the ground for other little kids to find.  I was too preoccupied with playing it cool.  And winning at it BIG TIME.  Just kidding.

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