Friday, July 29, 2016

Gypsies EV Melotte

Nice couple of little storms came though this morning. The first at 3:30 and the second at 4:50.  They dropped about 0.18 inches of rain to get the ground moist.

Today (actually tomorrow) we start a 7 day warming trend culminating in an 88 degree day nest Thursday and every other day there will be a chance of a pop up thunderstorm.  No big deal.

*****************************

A few more things from my mom.

Gypsies

Most summers a band of gypsies came through, usually in five or six wagons. The wagons were hung with clanking pots, pans, pails and tools, we could hear them coming while they were half a mile away. The wagons weren't as colorful, or the women as beautiful, or the men as handsome as they're pictured in storybooks and movies, but they were colorful and beautiful and handsome enough to be exciting.

They would camp across the road from us in an untilled part of Emil Lemke's land. Mr. Lemke had made an arrangement with them. They could camp on his land for two nights and in return they wouldn't steal his chickens. He still locked up his tools though.

We had no portable livestock, but when we saw them coming we all stopped whatever we were doing and hurried about picking up any loose axes, saws, hoes, shovels or pails and locked them in the tool shed. The haywagon was moved into the barn and locked in. The washing, wet or dry, was pulled off the line and carried into the house, and the clothesline untied from the posts and brought in. Farms were never so neat as when the gypsies were around.

Pa  scoffed at the idea that gypsies stole children, but in our early years Ma wouldn't allow Wayne or me to be seen outside during their stay, and Don and Gilbert were supposed to stay south of the house, away from the road.

Being summer, all of our windows would be wide open, and we could hear them from the house, but the grove was between us and the camp, so we couldn't see them.

I was obsessed with curiosity about them. Not only did they seem romantic and glamorous to me, but with my pre-school-age logic and overactive imagination I reasoned that maybe sometimes gypsies did steal babies. Or maybe sometimes they traded them. Maybe Ma had left her baby girl outside one day when they were here and they had taken Ma's baby and left one that nobody wanted in her place. If I was really a gypsy child that would explain why I didn't have red hair and didn't look like anybody else in the family and why I never felt I belonged to them. Maybe there was a little red haired girl just my age over there. Then I would know.

When everyone in the house was asleep I went out through the window and hid in the grove to look them over.

There was a cooking fire, dying down now, and a lot of grownups talking in a language I didn't understand. There was a man playing a harmonica. There were a couple of children sitting on the steps of one wagon, but I couldn't see the color of their hair. Nobody was looking in my direction, so I quickly crossed the road and hunched down behind a bush.

Somebody grabbed my shoulder and pulled me up. It scared me out of my wits. I thought I was being stolen.

The man who held me just stared at me. A woman called out something to him and he answered, they called back and forth several times but I couldn't understand them.  I felt  paralyzed. Then he turned and spoke English to me. He told me not to be afraid, no one would harm me. He said his mama wanted to see me. He lifted me over the fence and led to an old woman in a rocking chair.

The woman peered closely at me. My heart was pounding and I couldn't get my breath.

She told me that her son hadn't meant to frighten a little girl. He had seen someone there and had thought it was the boy who had come earlier and teased their girls. She asked if  I knew a boy, bigger than me, with curly black hair and dark eyes who could run like a rabbit. I got my breath back then and said, "That's Gilly. He's my brother." Somehow, being there wasn't so scary if Gilbert had been there first.

The man knelt beside me and apologized for grabbing me like that. He said he had a little girl about my age and wouldn't want anyone to frighten her like that. Instantly I stopped being scared. I asked, ''Does she have curly red hair?" He seemed surprised, but said, no, she had black hair. Are there any little girls with curly red hair here?  "No, They all have brown or black hair. Why?" I  wouldn't tell him.

The old woman asked how I happened to be up so late. I admitted, with awful shame, that no one knew I was out. I'd crawled out through the window. That brought about a  lot of laughter, but it wasn't mean laughter. It was almost as if they thought it was clever of me.

She told me I had better go home before someone woke up and missed me. How would I get back in the house? I told her about the big rock beneath my window, and they were still chuckling when I crossed the road and made my way back to my bed.

Nobody ever knew that I'd gone over there, and the next time the gypsies came through I watched them from the grove, but I must have grown up a little too much to be that brave again. Besides, I didn't see the kind old woman anywhere, and I already knew they had no red-haired children.

          EV Melotte

*********************************

Sugarfoot - 19 years

Sugar, your bones have grown fragile, and fine
and you rest on each step of the stair,
but your eyes are still kitten eyes, gentle and wide
as if age caught you up unaware.

You nibble your meals, you whisper your purr,
and then dream-doze the rest of the day.
You're as light as a feather-cat, soft in my arms.
Oh, Sugar . . . 
sweet Sugar . . .
you're drifting away . . .

from the book Snapshots Along The Way   

 EV Melotte