Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fishing & Fireflies: Summers on New Center

When you're a child, you tend to take a lot for granted. You don't necessarily see the intrinsic value of certain circumstances or situations or simple things for that matter. Frankly, some adults never grow out of that stage. But, now that I'm a grown woman and a wife with a child of my own, I recognize the invaluable moments that shaped my life. Many of those moments were made on my grandfather's property in northern Alabama. That plot of land on New Center Road holds more memories for me than I can even dare to count. Growing up, I didn't realize how significant that place was to me. As I get older and the times that I am now able to make it up there, I see just how important that place has been and always will be to me.

Not many children can say they spent their summers on acres of rolling hills with a pond to fish in, woods to hike and imagine through, and more family than perhaps one would want at times. Summers there now look quite different than they did 10 or 15 years ago when Great-Grandma was still living and the croquet game was still set up in the open field. My grandfather had taken the blades off of an old lawnmower that I used to drive around (redneck golf cart style). I'd drive around the pond or down the driveway to Great-Grandma's or across the field to Great Uncle Horace's. I can remember fondly vividly the time I ran over my own foot with the darn thing. Don't ask me how.

At least one week out of our usually 2 or occasionally 3 week stay was spent with Katie and Jenny, girls from Illinois that were just like family. Traditions were big and of utmost importance to us. The week with the girls was perhaps one of my favorite parts of summers on New Center. We always went putt-putt golf and then went to the 50's McDonald's for Coke floats until they stopped serving them one year. On the way to just about anywhere, we would tell the most off the wall and corny jokes you can think of. "What did the toaster say to the ocean? Where's the butter!?" Dumb? Yes. Did we laugh? Hysterically! We played countless games of croquet and spent hours on the dock by the pond or doing gymnastics and making whirlpools in the pool. I won't delve into the hilarious entertainment I provided each summer but lets just say Grandmother Preach rests in peace. We'd head outside every evening and run around catching the fireflies. Inevitably, whether there for 4th of July or not, we'd have a "wiener roast" over a bonfire by the pond underneath the pine trees that have since been cut down. S'mores and hot dogs and lots of laughter were always on the menu. 

I spent a lot of time this past week thinking back and reminiscing about the "good ol' days." It's an absolute blessing that my son gets to experience some of the same joy that I did, albeit a bit differently. My grandmother still cooks a mean pot of chicken-n-dumplins and my Grandpa is still one of the greatest men I know and I enjoy watching my husband just sit and talk with him. For the first time in years, I went out in the boat with Grandpa. He and I used to go fishing every year. It had been too long. God answered a somewhat selfish prayer of mine after his motor went out and we thought we wouldn't get to go. It ended up being a simple fix and a mere fraction of what they thought it might cost so Wednesday we were out on the river. I can't explain how refreshing it felt to have the wind against my face as he gunned it toward the selected brush pile. I didn't catch anything of course, but that's beside the point. Just being there with my husband and Grandpa was enough for me. I caught a few in the pond to make up for it. 

Though there wasn't a croquet game to be played or a modified lawn mower to ride or a bonfire to gather around, it was a nice trip. Gabe was introduced to fishing for the first time and we even spent a few minutes one evening trying to catch fireflies.

It's the true south up there. It's sad that living in Florida, you actually do have to travel north to get to the south. The talk is slower, the tea is sweeter, front porches are bigger, and it's like home to me. I am a southern girl at heart. Born and raised in the city...but my heart I swear comes from the south. I love it up there. And no matter what future summers may hold, my summers on New Center will always have their own special section of my heart.
The ol' dock...I love this property!

The old tractor and camper next to the old tool shed.

The men going fishing.