Monday, October 10, 2016

Acorn Popping and Other Cheap Thrills

It escaped my notice until today that the oak trees are starting to drop their acorns. I realized this as I took a bike ride in my neighborhood, celebrating the return of what we in Houston call "tolerable" weather -- lower humidity than usual and tempertures below 90 degrees -- wow!

Did you know it is fun to pop acorns underneath bicycle tires as you ride along ? A very satisfying pop is your reward. Sometimes there are a series of pops when you hit an especially nutty patch of pavement. This small joyous experience reminded me of playing with perforated (red) paper rolls of caps when I was a kid. On my block in Floral Park, Long Island, NY, we would sit on the pavement and pound each little dot with a rock or other blunt instrument. Plenty of pops there. The smell of the gun powder came back to me as an aromatic memory today as I popped acorns with my bicycle tires. I don't particularly remember playing with the cap guns, but I suppose we did. I do remember playing with water guns purchased from the 5 and 10 cent store.
Growing up in the 1950s, children had  much relative freedom. As long as I stayed on our block, I was free to roam. I don't remember any grownups trying to stop us from playing with the cap rolls although now it strikes me such play might have been dangerous. Yes, I feel a bit nostalgic recalling all the fun we had. We played jump rope, potsie/hopscotch, all kinds of ball games, rode our bikes everywhere and ran in and out of our friends' houses. Come dinner time, you would hear the mothers shouting our names from their front steps for kids to come home. And if it was summer, we went right back out after the evening meal. We caught lightning bugs in jars and played Simon Says as our parents drank gin and tonics in the backyard with neighbors, everyone sitting on lawn chairs, just about ignoring their kids playing nearby. Ah, the sweet innocence of those times...
I have to confess to another cheap thrill, or perhaps you could call it my new hobby in retirement -- ha-ha. I love to return grocery carts to their metal aisles in parking lots. There is such a satisfyingly loud noise when it arrives at the end of the aisle joining other carts parked there. Maybe I have agression issues, I don't know, but returning those carts never fails to please me! Also, I have to mention I love fireworks: not only the visual effects, but the loud noises and if you are close enough, the gunpowder smell (perhaps kicking me back to my memories of playing with caps). 
And so it goes... It is my particular pleasure to gather with girlfriends from my childhood at least once a year. Those reunions are precious, and help me to hold onto and enlarge memories we share. Since both my parents are gone, I can not ask them for recollections. I  find myself thinking of them more and more as the years go on past their deaths.  Perhaps it is time to get out the photo albums. Most of all, I am thankful for their love which sustains me past their time on this plant Earth.