Aunt Jane

I thought it might be interesting to explore some of our childhood experiences that helped mold what we are today. To start, I thought I'd begin with some memories of Aunt Jane.

I grew up mostly a city boy. I wandered the city streets, was as comfortable down by the docks as wandering into museums or libraries. I knew all about flowers and stuff since they held a big flower mart every spring. Flowers grew in small carts and green paper. Mom and dad thought I need to learn more about nature and growing things, learn what a village and a small town was like. That's where Aunt Jane came in.

Every summer they'd pack me off for a visit in the country. Aunt Jane lived in a small town called Saint Mary's Mead or something like that and for a young kid's imagination, there could be nothing worse. But children seldom hold veto power and so off I went.

Aunt Jane had a reputation as a busybody but that wasn't fair. She wasn't, but she did notice things that others never saw. I remember the day after I arrived she took me for a walk up Lansham Road to visit a friend of hers, Mrs. Bantry. I sat in a high backed chair in the dark room with the low ceiling and sipped tea and ate crackers while they talked about life in the village and who recently did something they found exciting and the new yarn they just got and what they were knitting. Mostly I wished I could just go out and run.

As we left to head back home she asked me if I thought the tomatoes in Baker's Grocery looked ripe enough for sandwiches. I didn't remember seeing them. She looked at me in surprise, and asked if I'd seen the baskets? I had to admit I hadn't noticed. She went on to describe the veggies out in front of the grocery, the baskets at the basket weavers, the dog sitting outside the Blue Boar, all things I had not even noticed.

The trip home became an adventure, trying to see if all she had listed were still there (they were), and the tomato sandwiches, thick slices of tomato, fresh lettuce from farmer Gile's, homemade bread and lots of mayo, were the best I had ever eaten.

Every day for the rest of the vacation became a safari. We'd go for a walk and I'd work as hard as I could to see everything and remember it all. Yet still, in the evening when we'd talk about the day there would dozens of things I'd missed. I got better day by day though and when it came time to return to the city Aunt Jane said I had "a good eye". That was better'n a medal.