The other morning I had a bit of a job to do: picking up the dozens and dozens of cones that had dropped, unseasonably early (perhaps due to recent high winds) from the two huge evergreen trees in the Manse’s front yard onto the grass below. (Which was causing problems when the grass was mowed.) It was a warm and sunny day, and I was quite happy to have an easy chore to do outdoors, enjoying the peace and quiet of a Queensborough morning while I did it.
There were rather a lot of cones, and my hands are small. I found I couldn’t pick up more than three at a time in each hand, though sometimes I tried (without much success) to wrap my fingers around a fourth.
That simple exercise on a quiet sunny morning cast my mind back 45 years or more, to an event – I think a shower of some sort – held at a the home of the Feeney family in Queensborough, just across the way (more or less) from the Manse (though the house itself no longer stands and has been replaced by a newer one and different residents). Community events like wedding or baby showers in those days always included games, and I remember that one of the games at this particular event at the Feeneys’ was a contest among the (all-female) attendees to see who could clasp the most wooden clothespins in her hand. Given that I have small hands now as an adult, and at the time of that shower I can’t have been more than seven or eight years old (I would have been attending with my mum), I didn’t have a chance of winning that one. (Ah, but if there had been a spelling contest…)
It made me smile as I was stooping and picking up those evergreen cones from the Manse lawn. I smiled to remember the simple pleasures we enjoyed back in those more innocent days, in Queensborough and in so many other places, rural and even perhaps urban.
Though my smile turned just a little bit rueful when I thought of how far we’ve come from those times, when something as simple as a clothespin contest could bring gales of laughter to a whole roomful of women. Those were good times.
Tomorrow: More reflections on simple pleasures, pegged to a colourful tradition at Queensborough bridal showers.