Time for Apples, fireplaces, kicking leaves and hopping trains

In retirement, weekends are like every other day: special. No appointments to keep, no real need to get dressed, at least on a Saturday, time to prowl my genealogy online, welcome work, given that the day is dark and gloomy. Oh. And cold. Don’t like that last part.

Munching on a tasty honey crisp apple, hearing the tear-away snap and crunch of the juicy sweet wake-up flavor in my morning mouth,  I feel serious gratitude that I still have most of my teeth. I can eat this marvel while typing the blog, never mind the occasional dribble down my chin.

The day recalls roaming acres of downed corn fields, pheasants roaming with my brother and me, comfortable with two kids interrupting their search for remaining corn nibs. They are gorgeous in their plumage. Young as we are, we see their beauty. We do not know that in our future adulthood, they will be hunted to extinction in our geographical area. I will see them again in a far future in England.

The fields are edged with dense trees, naked now, their limbs recently stripped of huge yellow and orange leaves still too soft to crackle beneath our feet, but easy to kick our way through on the way to the cut where we sit and look down, our feet dangling, to watch the oncoming train. We hear its shrill whistle and see the steam rising from the engine stack as it slows to make the turn into town a half mile away. Bobby used to run along side, having scrambled down the sharp slope to the tracks. He’d grab the hanging ladder, scamper to the top of a box car and sit there, legs folded, riding like a raj into town. When the train stopped, he’d saunter home, whistling, hands in his pockets like he was an innocent boy who’d never defy his Mama.

Too bad for him; someone’s dad saw and ratted. Arriving home, Bobby was totally sandbagged with the fury of a mad woman. She beat him until she had no breath left while I cowered in a corner wondering how I’d find a place to bury him.

“What’d I do? What’d I do, Mama?” He screamed his head off. She marched him upstairs and tossed him on his bed.

” You know what you did! No lunch! No dinner! You stay here until I come get you in the morning!”

It took an hour before I braved up the stairs to comfort him. His sniffling had stopped, his face red and snotty. The look on his face was puzzlement. He had no idea what he’d done wrong.

“Well, you could keep your dumb ass off the train, brother. For starters.”

I spelled it out for him. For a while, his flirt with death was deterred. But all too soon there he was, riding the boxcars into town, but now dropping off just before the train came to a stop. No one caught him again and Mama never knew his young life was still a thrill a minute.

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