I frequented there often. My visits would begin in the spring, not long after the temperatures started to rise ever so slightly. The trees began to bud - leaves sprouting from long limbs that had slept all winter long. They had had plenty of rest and were ready for action - so was I.
It wasn't a large home, only one room but it was secluded and absolutely all mine - or so it seemed. Plain, simple decor but that didn't matter. It's simplicity added to its charm. I'm not sure how long my summer home had been around before my visits began. Maybe 20-30 years. I never bothered to ask - it didn't matter. What did matter was that my summer home was a place where I spent hours playing, hidden away from the world - a place to pretend, dream, imagine. All things that children do because they have absolutely not a care in the world - as it should be. I miss it.
I especially miss it this time of year because when I look out my bedroom window and into my backyard, I'm reminded - reminded of my sweet summer home. Reminded, but not saddened. It brings a smile to my face and happy memories that warm my heart. Memories of my summer home and special memories of the man the "built" it - James Clebborn or as all knew him, JC.
I'm not sure when he planted the weeping cherry tree, my summer home, that gave me hours of joy as a special hiding place to play. He often worked in the yard and I can just imagine him standing there determining the exact perfect spot to plant the small tree. I'm sure he evaluated all options carefully - I'm mean after all, this man got the string and stakes out when plotting a garden. Those rows had to be straight. I smile again.
He spent hours in his roses as well - trimming, pruning, powdering. Too many times to count did we drive up to his house and I'd see him in the side yard where they were planted. Garden tools and gloves on hand. I smile again.
I knew JC as my paternal grandfather, my papaw as we say in the South; however, he wore many hats. Gardener, framer, furniture refinisher, father of three boys, insurance salesman who never met a stranger.
This time of year when I look out my bedroom window and into my backyard at my own little weeping cherry trees, those pink buds remind me of him.
They remind me of -
my summer home,
his rose garden,
the owl that hung in his garage to mark just the right spot for parking,
the $5 he would slip me and my cousin when she came to visit,
the tools I would play with as I watched him work in his shop,
his insatiable sweet tooth that I have inherited,
trips to the movie theater only to look over a see him snoozing,
his snores in the recliner with an old western playing on the TV,
trips to the mall and having him disappear while we all shop but spotting him later at the ice cream shop,
Louis L'Amour books,
traveling on summer trips and sitting in the front seat between him and my daddy,
the sticky mess he would later find in his pants pocket because he had stuffed jelly packets in there after our breakfast stop on those trips,
the long rock wall that lined his driveway that served as a balance beam at times - built by his own hands,
the matching fireplace in the backyard,
a family man,
I smile again, and again, and again...
Not more than probably 7 feet tall, my summer home was the perfect height for my vertically challenged stature. As I entered the one and only room, its long draping and skinny brown limbs and dark slender leaves became my walls that hid me away and left me to my imagination. It's funny, I don't really even remember the blooms - the very thing that now takes me back to those carefree days, but I'm sure they were there. The blooms that remind me of him.
Happy memories that warm my heart. I'm reminded, but not saddened. He was a wonderful part of my carefree world - I miss him. I smile, still.