From Pipi’s Pasture: A hot summer afternoon
It’s a hot afternoon here at Pipi’s Pasture, reminding me of days past when my sisters and I were growing up. (Our brother Duane had not been born yet.) I remember how hot the ranch house would get after a morning of cooking for a haying crew. So in the afternoon, after the dishes were done and put away, Charlotte, Darlene and I usually headed outside, seeking the shade of the big trees in the yard. Sometimes Mom carried her sewing outside, we spread a blanket under the silver maple tree, and while she darned socks or did some kind of needlework, Mom told us stories.
We passed the afternoon there, drinking Kool-Aid, listening to the stories and sometimes even doing a little needlework on our own. (I enjoyed cross-stitch.) Once in a while we took our dolls outdoors. We didn’t have a lot of toys, but we received dolls for birthdays and Christmas, and Grandma Osborn sewed doll clothes and bedding for them. They were precious, so we took care of them. That meant not leaving them outdoors.
Sometimes, however, we did play that we were going shopping. In the morning, when it was cool, we went out in front of the house with some of our dolls. We pretended that the front steps were the seats of the car. We loaded everybody up, somebody “drove,” and off we went to “town.”
We let our imaginations provide the stores for us. Hollyhocks, California poppies, daisies and other flowers were transformed into beautiful dresses, and we pushed a doll buggy along the sidewalk, showing our babies the dresses.
The reason I remember a doll buggy (it wasn’t mine) was that sometimes we substituted a tame cat for a doll. We even dressed the cat in a doll dress and bonnet. At first the cat was quite content with all the attention and rode along in the doll buggy, but after awhile he became bored and jumped out of the buggy. We had to chase the cat down to retrieve the doll clothes.
Sometimes we played on the enclosed front porch, too. We kept a box of dress-up clothes out there that we put on to pretend that we were brides, ladies in ball gowns and teachers.
The front porch was where I kept an earthworm named Oscar, too. I don’t remember how he ended up there or how long he resided on the porch, but Charlotte pushed him down through a crack in the floor, and he ended up under the porch where I couldn’t find him. I was devastated.
Probably our favorite places to play were in our playhouses in among the oak, chokecherry, and serviceberry bushes out back of the house. These weren’t “built” houses at all; they were secluded spaces with large rocks inside them and bushes all around. We imagined the rocks as beds, tables and chairs.
Each one of us had her own playhouse. Since I was the oldest, I got first pick — probably because I was the bossiest, too — and since Darlene was youngest she got a playhouse way out in the wilderness.
We never took our dolls out to the playhouses — not that I remember, anyway. We gathered up odds and ends of cans, dishes and utensils and kept them out there where we made mud pies with the shiniest tops. If we didn’t have dishes, it really didn’t matter; we used leaves for plates and sticks for stirring spoons. Isn’t the imagination wonderful?
It might have happened anytime of the day, but I remember the hot summer afternoons the most of all.
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