The warmth of the bosom of childhood
Published 8:22 pm Friday, April 14, 2023
In the springtime of my childhood, after supper we would all leave the kitchen go outside. The grownups sit on the porch to talk while us young’uns played in the yard. But, before the talking and playing started, we would put on a show of daring handstands, cartwheels and summersaults for the amusement of our captive audience.
My cousin Jimmy and I always performed our Chinese-get-up act. We would sit on the ground, back-to-back, with our elbows locked and our knees up to our chins. So entangled, we would grunt and groan to our feet. Everyone would applaud our amazing feat and we would run off to play “Ain’t no boogers out tonight. Grandpa shot ’em all last night” or Ramshackle Scat or Hide and Go Seek.
When we got so tired that we had to rest a while, we’d go inside for a glass of fresh buttermilk or, if we were so blessed, Kool-Aid. We’d swig it down so fast that our Adams’ apples would lodge in our throats. Then, we would go out to the pasture, lie on our backs and look at the moon and the stars.
We would always arrive in the pasture at about the same time the evening star appeared. I didn’t always sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” out loud but it was always playing in my heart, “Twinkle, Twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high. Like a diamond in the sky.”
We didn’t know much about constellations, but we recognized the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper and we made up our own pictures with stars in the sky — a boat, a turtle, a ghost, a haint or the librarian at the school, or a hundred other things that we could imagine.
Whenever the moon showed its face, we always greeted it with, “I see the moon. The moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.”
We said it like a rhyme although it felt like a prayer.
On the waxing of the moon, there was enough light for us to see our way back home. But, on the nights when the moon was waning, the darkness fell like a black curtain over the sky. We would lie there counting the stars and making pictures in the sky until we felt the darkness close in around us.
That little sliver of the moon seemed so far away and the night so black and the world so big and us so small that we would suddenly jump up and run home. Run back to the comfort of the soft mumblings of the grownups on the back porch and the singing of the night birds. Back to the bosom of childhood.