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Home again, home again, jiggity jig jig

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When I was a child, my family lived on a dead-end gravel road off of Independence Highway, some miles outside of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Our little street was situated by a stand of woods that I spent many, many happy hours in playing alone in the trees and running barefoot on a thick woodland carpet of pine needles and brown leaves.  Our house was a two-story red brick on about a half an acre of land (as best I can recall).  We had a stand of pines running at an angle in our backyard where my mother had a clothes line strung because we had a washing machine, but no dryer.  Beyond that stand of trees was a large flat area a perfect size for football, soccer, and baseball games. Most every home on the street had at least one child resident, but many had three or four children ... five in our case.  There was always someone to play with, any day of the week, any time of day.  Little kids, not-so-little kids, teenagers, and even some college aged people.  I remember one college age neighbor who "baby" sat for us one evening when our parents went out.  This guy made all five of us sit in a row on the sofa and be quiet all night.  It was so weird to us, we didn't object too much because it seemed such a funny game. Often on a summer night someone would start phoning around the neighborhood getting up a game of kick-the-can.  We would all meet, usually in our yard, and the game would begin.  Kids of all ages would scatter here and there, hiding in their favorite spots.  I was particularly good at hiding, and had a particular spot up inside a shrubby tree in our front yard where no ever did find me.  After everyone else had been found, I would quietly climb out of my spot and creep around the corner of the house then run around the back and let the kid who was "it" catch sight of me as I made a mad dash for the can.  I must say, it was a perfect execution on my part each and every time. I never did disclose that place, my best-ever hiding place of all time. Both of my grandmothers had farms up in Mt. Airy and in the summer my brothers and sister and I would spend some time at Grannie's farm (that was my father's mother) most likely to give our parents a vacation.  We would have a wonderful time playing in the sun, helping to bring in crops, watching my grandmother can vegetables and make jams and preserves.  I loved hot summer afternoons sitting on the porch snapping beans into metal bowls, listening to the gossip and other conversations of the adult women.  Sometimes I would pluck a hot tomato off the vine and eat it like an apple.  Then there was strawberry day, when we were sent off to the strawberry patch with bowls and buckets and stern instructions not to eat a bunch of the strawberries.  I wonder now if my grandmother truly believed you could prevent an unsupervised child from eating a tummy full of strawberries in the sweet summer sun.  Watermelon afternoons were gracious reprieves from sweaty work, when my two older brothers could go out and fetch any watermelon of their choosing for us to chow down on out on the lawn.  The dark green melons split open easily with a big knife, cut into long wedges from end to end and passed out among the five of us.  We would salt them liberally and eat away getting watermelon juice all over our faces, arms, and legs. Each and every time we would arrive at the turn to our little gravel road after visiting up in Mt. Airy, we would say together, "Home again, home again, jiggity jig jig."  I loved that little ritual recital because it meant that soon I would see our dog, feel my bare feet on our own floors, and feel the comfort of my own pillow, and covers, and bed as I drifted off to sleep remembering the good times at Granny's or Grandma Johnson's place. This week after my husband picked up at the airport in Buffalo after my ten day trip to Los Angeles, I quietly said it to myself when we turned onto our street and I saw our farm ... our home. "Home again, home again, jiggity jig jig." ~firefly


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