Tucson, 1986 I hang out wash on an Arizona morning. Damp cotton clings cool on my arm. Wooden pins and curve of rope, sun yellow dress, dusky rose towels, underwear bright spots of blue and pink against the smooth sweep of sheets. Down the path to the hen-house I find three eggs under the straw, two brown, one green. Driving the roller coaster roads in an old white truck, arm out the window, dust cloud behind, I sing along with the country songs, “Won’t you meet me in Montana, I want to see the mountains in your eyes...” Out below the rugged ridge of the Catalinas to pick peaches, fifty-two pounds dropping ripe and juicy from the trees. I climb ladders in orchard air, sweating, balance the buckets stretch for the big ones up high, gather fruit for canning-- peaches, cherries, apples, berries, pear butter, pickles and straight green beans. Peel fruit in the summer kitchen, fill the shiny jars. This is the ground from which I grew. Garden out back and mailbox by the gate, close the shades at ten to keep in the cool. Climbing hill trails at evening with various dogs, I look down at the house, remembering.... Mama in her red aproned housedress, tackles spring cleaning with cheerful vigor. Wall, floors, ceilings, curtains, rugs and cupboards, all of it shining, farm woman, twice removed. Grandma in the big brick house in Detroit, bakes soft round cookies with walnuts on top. Tomatoes and peonies grow by the alley, farm woman, once removed. And one sultry summer on a farm in Ohio, Gossards and Northrops, Adams and Darts, met at long rows of wooden tables set on green grass beside the fields of corn. I was seven and blond in pink organdy. I remember the gnarled hands of great uncles touching my hair, their sweet faces, new kittens at dawn in a dusty barn, the fresh hay smell, a rope swing with a tire, Sunday breakfast with ham and biscuits, pies, preserves, pancakes, and eggs, tables laden with harvest fruits. Yes, yes, this is right, this is home. I sink my roots into the soil of my past and know who I am again at last. I feel real and whole and deeply grateful for the sun on my cheek and the hoe in my hand.
Eleanor Dart is an author and psychotherapist and a lifelong Quaker. She is a member of Pima Friends Meeting in Tucson, AZ (IMYM).
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