Writing Down The Past...

I need to start writing.  I keep making excuses for myself, that I'm not ready to begin yet or that I don't have anything to write about.  These reasons will no longer suffice, and I can't let them stop me from just sitting down right now and doing it.  It might be messy or slightly disorganized, but unless I begin now it will be endless procrastination. 

I've struggled with what to write about.  Putting thoughts out there on any topic is a risky business, and even more so in the age of the Internet.  But sometimes it's good to take a few risks, and I want to begin by writing on some moments of my past that stick out in my mind as being especially memorable or important.  I don't want this to become a self-indulgent exercise, however, so I will endeavor to reflect on events realistically and with as little flattery as possible. 

Part of my motivation for doing this also has to do with my interest in getting my childhood down in words.  I recently told my parents that in some way I feel that I'm already beginning to forget.  This isn't necessarily about wanting to feel nostalgic.  I want to have something to hold onto, so that when I have children someday I'm able to share with them what it was like growing up for me.  I'm sure all of this ties into my deep love of history too.  Let me apologize in advance if this comes off as almost "stream of consciousness" in its nature.  I would appreciate your feedback as this progresses.

So, without further ado...

 

PART I : ILLINOIS

Winters can be uncomfortable in southern Illinois.  Thick snow blankets the ground, and wind chill brings the outdoor temperature to a frigid -20 degrees Fahrenheit at certain points in the season.  The up side is that you have a white Christmas...and a freezing red nose.  You don't need Santa or Rudolph to have rosy cheeks and a shiny nose, believe me.

Christmas was always memorable in Illinois, in large part due to the aforementioned snow.  Bright crimson cardinals dotted the white ground, creating such a stark contrast that you couldn't help but stare.  The male cardinals are the bright red that most people associate with how all cardinals look, but the females are light brownish with tinges of red on the wings and tail.  It always fascinated me that in the world of cardinals, the men were the beautiful ones.  

Bundled up in layers of clothing, with jacket, hat, boots, and gloves, I would waddle out into the snow to play.  Snow angels, snowball fights, snowmen, all of these things were relished and enjoyed...and of course, there was sledding.  There happened to be a rather large hill a short distance from our house, and my family and I would drag our sleds over and take our chances making it to the bottom.  Some of our sleds seated only single passengers, but one was able to seat two or three.  We would find that magical spot at the top of the hill, right at the edge, pile in, and then teeter off.  The experience was exhilarating, and once at the bottom of the hill we would find ourselves laughing and wanting to head back up and do it again.  One sled path led right between two trees, and on one occasion when sledding with a friend I sailed between both trees in just the nick of time.  On another occasion, a family member hit a log when sledding down the hill and was literally catapulted into the air.  Each visit to this hill promised some kind of incredible sledding experience...and that time will always stick in my mind as one of the most fun-filled and joyous of my childhood.

We lived in an old two story house at that time, with a long porch out front which included a bench swing.  As you walked in, there was a tall staircase leading up to the bedrooms.  You would notice that the floor slanted slightly as you walked into the rooms due to the age of the house.  Since we lived in the house during my early years, the details of the rooms are vague in my mind.  I do remember, however, spending a great amount of time in my parents' room, playing games and keeping myself occupied when there were guests in the house.  We also had a "play room", with a kids table and a small TV on which I watched many cartoons.  Coloring books littered the table, and I worked hard at scribbling them in.  I was never a very gifted artist, but I can remember to this day watching my older sister carefully draw and shade in the colors in those books.  I watched, in awe, as she made Sleeping Beauty look just about as beautiful as the Disney cartoon.  To this day I have never excelled in art or drawing but it amazes me nonetheless to watch those who are gifted at it. 

(TO BE CONTINUED...)