Ten Years Old and Counting by Estelle Cade

When I was ten years old we were living in Whitman MA. I remember my parents driving us down the street to show my sister and me our new school. It was the Pleasant  Street  School, grades one through six ( I don’t think there was a kindergarten class there), and our house was at the other end of Pleasant Street. Up to this point a city kid, I looked at this new school in horror and exclaimed, “How can I learn anything in a wooden school?”

When I had a birthday and turned eleven, I saw a movie with Carmen Miranda singing and wearing one of her fanciful head-dresses and a marvelous pair of cork-soled shoes on a very high platform. I yearned for a pair of cork-soled shoes, exactly like hers, naturally, and for that eleventh birthday my very dear great aunt gave me a beautiful pair of cork-soled sandals: flat heeled, as naturally befitted my age and station in life, as they say. But, the edges and straps were bright red and the linen on the front part was embroidered with a bright red tropical bird. My sweet aunt did her best to fulfill my desires and I wore the sandals happily all summer, probably pretending that I was wearing those amazing Carmen Miranda platforms. (My love of shoes began when I was about three years old.)

When I was ten, going-on-eleven, I learned how to be the new girl on the playground, no longer having my Best Friend since Grade One, at my side. The girls looked me over, a couple of them came to speak with me, asked my name and so on, but at the end of the day my sister, a first grader, and I walked home from school together.

Another day—recess again—a girl came over to me, told me her name and said, “Let’s walk around together,” so we did. (No planned games here – the boys must have done something, but kept out of the girls way as they walked around or stood in groups, talking,) At afternoon recess this same girl joined me and asked, “Would you like to be my friend?”

Quite surprised I agreed that I would be her friend and she said, “Ask your mother when you get home, if you can come to my house after school tomorrow.” We lived on the same street, and as my mother said I could go to her house, we became Best friends for a long as I lived in Whitman.

So, when I was ten going-on-eleven, I learned that I could learn something in a wooden school—more than you’d think, perhaps. It was a double-graded classroom and as I’d already covered the fifth grade work in my city school, I readily absorbed the sixth grade material I heard all day.

I learned that loving relatives will try to capture just the gift you really hope for, and perhaps succeed a bit anyway, and you feel cared about in a special way.

And I learned that while lonely and a bit scared in a new setting, a quiet manner and some pleasant words can help you make a new place for yourself, and new friends to spend time with.

And then, when I was eleven going-on-twelve…oh, but that’s another story for another day.

Advertisements

The Tale of the Footes by Estelle Cade

Once upon a time, Mr. And Mrs. Foote learned that they would be having twins, a girl and a boy. The girl, being in a hurry, was born first and they named her Righty. The boy, a few seconds later, arrived, and they named him Lefty. They were adorable identical twins, and the parents were “toe-tally” thrilled with their tiny baby toes. So sweet, so cunning.

However, as they began to walk Mrs. Foote noticed that Righty’s little toes turned out as she began to walk and that Lefty’s little toes turned inward. Fearing that this might hamper their agility, she enrolled them in Miss Toe Knees School of Dance. The children took to dance immediately! Righty found Ballet to be the perfect style for her and the second that Lefty put on those shiny black tap shoes, he was off and away! Continue reading

Some Lines Witten while Sitting in the Atrium at Dartmouth (NH) Medical Center By Estelle Cade

I bought a hat the other day.
It was so cute, it fit so well;
It’s definitely you,
my friends all say. 

I bought some shoes the other day;
bright red, and so in style that
just to look at them
makes me smile.

Dressed up now,
from toes to head –
look at what’s next,
Old Age said.
There is a magic cloak for you
It comes in many colors.
Some will wear it gracefully –
(and then there are the others..) Continue reading

Remember When? by Estelle Cade

As busy parents it was hard to just get through the days sometimes, let alone take notice of those special “small moments” of tenderness or joy. Yet as we live out our lives, those small moments can pop up seemingly out of the blue, but no doubt just waiting in one’s subconscious to be enjoyed anew.

My daughter, an only child for her first five years, was thrilled to know that right after her 6th birthday she’d have a baby brother or sister. She would put her eye to my stomach and tell us: that’s my baby brother in there” – and she was right! She loved being a “Helper” and would happily bring me a clean shirt or some little item. I’ve never forgotten the day I looked into the baby’s room and saw her standing by the crib, singing “Rock a bye Baby” to her brother, as his blue eyes watched her so intently. A tender moment to cherish. Continue reading

Don’t Forget? by Estelle Cade

 

An appointment? A trip to – where?

Did I forget? What day is this?

Don’t forget – forget what?

We live by our calendars – little square by little square.

Pen and paper by the phone always.

“I have sticky notes all over my house,”

a friend confides to me.

“Yet,” she adds, “either I cannot read

what I wrote 

or cannot remember why I wrote it, so

who cares anyway?”

“I forgot” – remember those days?

The basic answer to so many questions

as one child or another stands before you

“Why didn’t you bring home your report card?

Why didn’t you give me the permission slip

last week that you need today?

Why didn’t you tell us that Parent’s Night is tonight –

and that you’d said I’d bake two dozen cupcakes?”

And on and on

Do you remember saying

“What if Dad forgot he had to go to work?

What if I forgot to pick you up after school?

Or conveniently forgot that dinner had to be cooked

tonight  – and every night, for heaven’s sake.”

It seems now that the “I forgot” in youth

somehow morphs into

“I can’t remember anything”

as we age 

and our children find it frustrating perhaps.

Might this be Divine Retribution?

No Nuthin’ by Estelle Cade

No secret stairways,
No hidden rooms,
No spectral visitors,
No magic brooms.

No twisting passageways,
No buried treasure.
Watch for low tide lines,
Be sure to measure.

No mossy cave marks,
No bony guests,
Only seaweed, pebbles, shells,
No echo of a lost ship’s bell.

No pirate ship
No pieces of eight
No yo ho ho,
No bottles of rum.

No Treasure Island,
No Captain Hook.
Oh go away, Nancy Drew,
You’re in a different book!

 

Seasons by Estelle Cade

A New Englander, born and bred as they say, I watch the gradual changing of the foliage from green to a myriad of wonderful colors, and while admiring them, begin to dread the season that follows – winter.

Picturesque – oh yes, I’ll admit to the beauty of our snowy days, with feathery, frosty flakes falling softly all around and to the glory of the glittering days following an ice storm, with every branch and wildflower stalk encased in a sheath of ice. When the sun comes out it is an amazing spectacle.

And then, so not picturesque – cars buried in snow drifts as the plows thunder past you; errands left undone because the driveway is not yet cleared and the snow blower today has “issues” or after the ice storm when the power is out for days and people are freezing and frightened.

Shall we speak also of the mundane matters of winter – bundling small children into their layers of winter gear and then stuffing them into uncooperative car seats; of bundling ourselves also into the tyranny of coat, hat, gloves, scarf and probably boots as well, for days on end. And for the many of us who do not have garages there is the unalloyed pleasure of having to go out after every storm and clean off the car.

Ah yes, winter – dark mornings and long dark nights – we all feel like moles after a while. Then suddenly – right around Valentine’s Day – and perhaps another huge snow storm, the sunset comes a few seconds later, a few small bird calls can be heard if you listen carefully enough; there is a lighter feeling to the air around us and the local farmers can be seen in the woods, tapping their maples for the sugaring season.

Spring is tiptoeing to our corner of the world and my disposition switches from Neutral to Positive. I try to avoid saying ‘I hate winter’   – so negative – but I have to admit that I do prefer the days of flowers and softer temperatures.

Here I go – time to put the snow shovel back in the car.

Leaving by Estelle Cade

“Hmm – write about a leaving or a departure or some such – that’s a broad subject to be sure”, she thought. As a young person, I thought a lot about leaving – or others leaving. When my sister and I were young, we worried that our parents might die and we’d  have to go and live with our aunt and uncle. It wasn’t that we didn’t love them dearly and we knew they loved us in return – but – our aunt  had some very conservative ideas about how children should dress and act and we amused ourselves sometimes, dreaming up various scenarios on that theme. We’d laugh and laugh -and shudder a bit also. (Boring shoes and no lipstick seemed to feature in these visions.)

Later on, it seemed we all wanted to leave for something – we wanted to move on to the next grade, on to high school. In high school we dropped, changed, left, boyfriends, girlfriends, hobbies, activities; changed course subjects, even. Life seemed always to be fluid in some ways, although we never actually strayed far from the familiar. Teenagers talk a good game, but are less courageous than you’d think.

Adult life found us all moving on in various ways. The armed forces found many of my generation traveling to far places; we went off to college; married, “settled down” – and many of us never ventured too far from what we  knew as home territory. And now, she mused, I am older and find that I have never ‘left home’. Although I dreamed once upon a time of travelling to exotic places (I read the National Geographic Magazine all through my childhood) and have managed some trips to new places, I find that I am now the one left behind – or call me the ‘core’ person; the one who stays and is comfortable sending children out to their lives in the wider world. Although this particular apple never fell far from her New England tree (a Baldwin, perhaps?), it has produced sturdy branches in other places.

“And, she added – there is one leave-taking that will take place eventually, that affects everyone – and it’s one that no one wants to discuss – ever. No matter how practical and pragmatic one’s children may seem, talk of that final leaving they prefer to leave in limbo until they must face it. And we won’t be around to tell them how we want that last leaving to be carried out!”

I am a Poem by Estelle Cade

I am a reader, a writer,
A mother, a grandmother
I wonder sometimes if any of it matters.
I hear the chuckle of a kookaburra
I see the surf of the Southern Ocean
I want to hug my daughter
I am a poem.

I pretend I am going on a journey
I feel excited at the thought of it
I touch my daughter’s hair
I worry all my travels will remain a dream
I cry at the thought of all the dead soldiers
I am a poem.

I understand the world is round
I say the world keeps getting smaller
I dream of a peaceful world
I try to continue to grow
I hope to stay all ways healthy
I am a poem.

The Cabin by Estelle Cade

She came upon the cabin suddenly, as she reached an open space in her climb. Surrounded by tall pines, it seemed to nestle cozily into the clearing. A breeze set the pine boughs to whispering among themselves, while the sun-warmed needles on the ground gave out that familiar scent of balsam. On the porch a rocking chair dressed in a faded cushion seems to beckon her on.

Two old men, one wearing a cap, the other sporting a cowboy hat, are seated under a nearby tree, beside a small lake. Seemingly silent, they ignore her presence.

Quietly, almost holding her breath, she tiptoes up the path and Continue reading