The Beginning

When I was a little girl, we lived in Virginia in a planned community with hundreds of miles of bike trails around a man-made lake.  These bike trails curved through woods and over humped wooden bridges to islands with playgrounds built on them.  Once I could ride my light blue, banana seat bike (with blue and white streamers), my favorite stop was Tom Sawyer’s Island.  It had the biggest fort and the tallest swings.  There, in my pink bike shorts and oversized Hypercolor t-shirt, I played under the trees with my older sister.

We tried to bump each other off the seesaw by pushing hard off the ground.  When the one at the bottom bounced off the tire that was half-buried in the ground under each seat, the one at the top popped up into the air, squealing and hanging on tight.  We tried to hold hands while swinging in wide arcs on those long-chained swings.  We sang what we thought were the words to Cyndi Lauper and Carly Simon songs and laughed at each other when the underarms of our Hypercolor t-shirts turned a different color from the heat of our bodies.  We ran and gasped with giggles and shrill shrieks of joy until I’d mistake a crooked tree branch floating in the shallows for a water moccasin and want to go home.

Thunderstorms were a family affair when we lived in that white house on Willow Glen Road.  My dad worked from home as a suit salesman and he had an office with skylights that leaked.  When my sister and I saw dark thunderheads piling up through the bonus room’s gable windows, we would throw down our Barbies and charge down the back staircase like baby rhinoceros to help put out the rain buckets.

One bucket went right next to the garbage can beside his desk and one went right above it on the corner of his desk.  The skinny plastic pitcher we used for juice was tucked onto the windowsill and we were done.  By that time, the trees in the backyard were bending and swaying as the wind breathed through them and raindrops streaked the windows like exclamation points.

I was excited by the coming storm until the first roll of thunder rattled the window panes.  A sick feeling would grow in my stomach until I was ready for the next phase of the thunderstorm traditions.  My mom corralled my sister and I onto the L-shaped navy couch in the family room and the sight of her pulling the pale yellow paperback book from the shelf gave me immediate comfort.

My dad settled in his blue recliner next to us, owlish in his glasses and brown college sweater, and my mom would begin:

“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.”

This was the beginning for me.  Where it all started.  With thunder making my stomach churn and my mom’s beautiful, calm voice reading aloud from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, my love for reading and story-telling was born.  It became my dream to someday entertain a little girl just like myself with my own stories.



  1. Rev Daddy says:

    This took me back! Thanks for sharing the memories… Dad…

  2. Mom says:

    Thanks for the memories….that time will forever be magical for us all, (well maybe not Jenn).

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