Pine Needle Crowns and Piles of Leaves

Moving back to the States after last living here as a kid (I left when I was 8 years old) has been an interesting and enlightening experience. I’ve been back here since then, but only to visit, and trust me when I say that visiting has NOTHING to do with actually living somewhere. In some ways I feel like my life as a TCK has been one big anthropological expedition. Hm, come to think of it, I’m sure that TCKs would make great anthropologists, but maybe I’ll cover that some other time. Being back in the U.S. as an adult has opened my eyes in a lot of ways, and has obviously led me to make a lot of comparisons with other countries I’ve lived in, especially France, as it’s the only other country I lived in as an adult. Some of those comparisons are positive and others, not so much. But moving back here has also conjured up a lot of childhood memories from when we lived in the States.

When we lived in Wisconsin as little girls, fall meant piles of leaves all over the yard. Those leaves meant a lot of hard work for dad, and a lot of fun games for me and my sister! He would rake up the leaves all over the yard and make different piles to make them easier to pick up. But before they could be picked up, we loved to let ourselves fall into the piles and just watch the leaves fly up around us. To be fair, I believe we did help him put the leaves in the bags later (I hope!), but until they went in those bags, they were a joy to play in! Another favorite of ours with the autumn leaves was to look for the most beautifully colored leaves lying on the ground. We would scour the back and the front yard, looking for the reddest or most golden leaves. And every once in a while we would fall upon a real treasure: a transparent leaf. I remember we loved those, they were something special and rare. Those leaves were the ones we would press in books to dry them so we could admire their beauty whenever we wanted.

We were lucky to have a big yard, with lots of space to run around with our dog, and a swing-set to play on endlessly, but one of our favorite places in the yard was our hidden pine tree ‘cove’. To get into our secret lair, we had to crawl or crouch under some of the low-hanging branches, but once inside we were surrounded by 2 very large and beautiful pine trees. We would sit on the carpet of dried, golden pine needles and make all sorts of stories in our heads (and out loud!). While we were sitting there, lost in our own little world, we would make crowns and even bracelets out of the fresh green pine needles. It was delicate work and a talent acquired with practice, but we were diligent crafts-girls. Those crowns would adorn our heads, and those of our parents. Our lovely and patient dog might have had one too, if we could get him to sit still long enough. He was a patient and kind dog, but not stupid enough to let us put one of those on his head! How we loved those pine trees, complices to our princess-like fantasies, secret-keepers to our hidden world.

Now in Connecticut, there are a lot of those same pine trees around as well as those glorious autumn leaves, and oh, the memories they bring back to me. The smell, the sight, those golden pine needles carpeting the floor, those beautiful pine trees, green even in the weary whiteness of winter. And those autumn trees, glowing brighter every day, slowly covering the ground in stunning shades of red, gold, orange and yellow. How I long to be a little girl again sometimes, if only for a little while. To throw myself in those colorful piles of leaves, to crouch once more under the low-lying branches of our pine trees and to make pine needle crowns while imagining stories of princesses, evil wizards and knights in shining armor.

Third culture kid, relishing the ‘kid’ part, signing off.

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6 thoughts on “Pine Needle Crowns and Piles of Leaves

  1. the great thing about having kids is that you can BE a kid again: my two boys roll around in fresh snow and make snow angels, and I’m right there with them! they throw leaves around and I of course just have to join in! It’s the perfect excuse.

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    1. That’s definitely the perfect excuse to join in all the fun! 🙂 I don’t know if I’ve ever stopped being a kid though…I’ll still make snow angels, and I don’t have kids yet to use that as an excuse! But my thinking is, why stop doing those little things in life that bring you a smile, no matter what age you are?

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      1. too true. Adults get all self-conscious- we were at a wedding this summer and when the music started, guess who were the first on the dance floor? The little kids, of course: the adults hung back, all shy and hesitant. Such a pity! Rachel Carson (who wrote Silent Spring, a warning about xs pesticide use) talks about a ‘sense of wonder’ and how we should work at maintaining it. I sure do, and it enriches my life. It certainly seems as if you have kept that sense of wonder too!
        Thanks for the lovely trip down memory lane: my sister and I also used to build terrific hide-outs in the bushes in the various gardens we lived in, and most memorably at my grandparents where there were lots of edible berries and fruit- oh how I LOVED collecting sweet juicy gooseberries and mirabels, and huddling in our little ‘house’ to eat them! Happy memories indeed.

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        1. It makes life boring to be too self-conscious and not take advantage of all the little (and big) wonderful things in life! I’m really happy you enjoyed this entry, and I absolutely loved reading about your memories with your sister! Thanks for sharing and for always having fantastic comments; it always makes me smile when I see I have a comment from you and I look forward to reading them so very much!

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  2. This is so beautifully written. I love your perspective as a Third Culture Kid- and I love that even with your varied worldwide experiences, one of them is time in Wisconsin in the autumn. You described leaves and childhood in such a wonderful way. I love the image of you making crowns. I know that I have loved moving from the south back to the north, and it reminds me of fall in my youth, and creates a new memory of the present for my future. -kate

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Kate. I’m really happy you enjoyed the post; I loved remembering those moments while I was writing it! I’ve always loved autumn, and now that I’m in Connecticut I’m thrilled that I get to enjoy all its beauty, and I’m ready to make more memories! 🙂 I look forward to hearing from you again!

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