…OF BEAUTIFUL MAGENTA AND CORNFLOWER BLUE…
A door off to my right slammed. The sound of running feet warned me to STOP – abrupt in mid-step – just in time to let a small dynamo bundled in coat and scarf dash obliviously past me…out across the street to the gazebo on the green —
“Jacklyn! Wanna see where Grandma has her club meeting sometimes?” she cried with high-pitch excitement to someone lagging behind her. “C’mon!”
I grinned at that. Club meetings. On summery days, our neighborhood book club gathers in the gazebo. Just friends using books as an excuse to chat and catch up. But so important-sounding to this little one…
More feet running, tennies reverberating on the driveway, and a slightly younger child zipping past to meet her. Sisters, I thought…smiling. Children are a rarity in this neighborhood. Must be visiting.
“You run that way and stop at the end of the sidewalk,” the first, possibly six years old, directed Jacklyn, maybe four. “I’ll run to the other end and tell you when to go.”
On their marks at opposite ends leading to the gazebo, they spun around, the older girl calling again. “Okay… now run towards me!” But Jacklyn, smart girl, was already on her way there.
“Run, run, run!” they whooped together. “Hip…hip…hooray!”
Making my third walking loop around our little cul-de-sac, I kept my eye out in case they decided to dart out past me again… their wild exuberant screams piercing the air like the excited whistle of a drum majorette to her cheerleaders… A-tten-tion!
It was clear to me which one thought she was in charge.
“No, no, Jacklyn – don’t go that way. It’s best to do it this way — see?” “Let’s play like we’re having tea here in the meeting area…” “Here – you run this way and I’ll go that way – Look out before you cross the street… “
Little stage director, I thought, chuckling and almost wishing the younger one would speak up…
But something in their voices just then melded into echoes from my own Grandma-visit days. And I could hear the calling of two other little girls…see again the old hacienda-style white adobe home with its Spanish tiled roof … almost smell the overflowing magenta bougainvillea pouring out by the sun-dappled portico entrance. The fuchsia plants that hung like tiny red and pink and purple bells, just inviting us to pop them! And leaf patterns dancing on the walls like music for our days…
Ah, that lovely house. How Grandma had cried when the state told them they had to sell and move to make way for a freeway. How I hated to leave it behind…to only a memory.
I loved running my fingers on the outside walls that felt like soft chalk – how it even left a powdery feel on my fingers.
I loved running, running all around that yard… calling to my little sister. Up and down the hilly front lawn that seemed so BIG to our little selves.
Setting up our dolls for picnics. Coloring pictures, making plans. Always directing. I was the one who got the kick out of devising the plays. She loved dressing up for the parts. “Here, this is what you should say…” I’d script the play for her. Then, “Let’s call Grandma and Papa out to watch,” when we were ready.
Laughter and childish voices echoing —
“Jacklyn, we can’t go in that way!” big sister was calling now. Explaining that Grandma liked them to go inside through the garage, not through the front door. But trying to keep her little sis outside just a little longer.
I was you, once… I thought, softly.
You still are – to Me… a loving Voice spoke…gently… into my thoughts.
I lifted up my face to the sun peeking out from a cornflower blue patch in the clouds. Leaned in to listen.
Run with joy, my child…
I need their kind of energy, I thought.
The joy of the Lord is your strength… I will renew your youth like the eagle’s…
Mmm… Yes, the shouts and play of little ones have been ringing like bells across my neighborhood this week. But this morning as I walked, all was quiet. Just cardinals and robins, finches and sparrows singing out ecstasy at the unexpected spring weather. I thought again of Jacklyn and her sister as I rounded the loop to their Grandma’s house… of how like sweet doll houses our cottages look around here, and what special memories they will treasure of these days…
Rainbow colors splashed on the sidewalk caught my eye just then. I grinned. Chalk jumping-games of old, scrawled there, cheery colors slightly running together from the morning dew, like melting crayons spelling out “We were here!”… a little remembrance of London Bridges joy.
And a reminder.
We’re never too old to skip and sing for joy.
© Pam Depoyan
Got a “skipping” song on your heart?