Author: angiem, 07 09th, 2009

Across the street from us, in a lime plastered, ivy-covered house, lived the shoemaker and his wife. As children, we loved to play in their rose filled garden, or sit with him at his workbench, eating bowls of stew with homemade crusty bread, and watching him cut the myriad colored leather for the shoes ordered. His wife always had gold foil wrapped chocolates for us, in the many pockets of her apron.

They were old and stooped. The only child they had ever had, long dead of some childhood ailment. Children had a tendency to die back then, the old shoemaker used to say, his eyes filling with tears. And because I cried easily as a child, I would tear up alongside him. His wife would hear me crying and come rushing out of the kitchen, scolding the old shoemaker for saddening children with his stories. She would take me in the cool, dark kitchen with her, where she was always pickling or making jams, and give me a blue velvet covered box out of an old walnut armoire, to look through.

It was a treasure box of sorts, with mementos of their child and the trips they had taken while newlyweds. Amidst the smiling photos, train ticket stubs, and christening gown and bonnet, there was also a teddy bear. A small, skinny one with a chewed paw. It bore the importance of having belonged to their baby. Out of respect for the old shoemaker’s tears (or most likely, because I was afraid to touch the plaything of a dead child), I didn’t touch it, although my young fingers craved to.

The ivy-covered house with its fragrant rose garden is no longer there. In its place is an ugly concrete building with shuttered windows. The people within are silent and secretive, and the only time one sees them is when they back their car out of their gated yard.

Yet, the bittersweet memories of childhood remain deeply rooted in my mind. A treasure box of them, that I’m determined to document before old age sets in, and I forget. Colors and textures, and sounds, and sensations. Life lessons learned at a young age.


4 Responses to “idyll”

  1. Ella Says:

    I grew up in a ranch style house right off a busy highway. My parents worked and my brother and I were too scared of our cat loving neighbor to strike up any conversation with her. I’ve often wondered through the years of how her life turned out. Love the blog. You had a fairy tale childhood.

  2. Jena Says:

    You write so eloquently. Can’t wait to read more!!! :)

  3. Ruth Says:

    I will have a house in Provence one day and you can all come and stay with us …

  4. Vicki Archer Says:

    You must…your words are beautiful, xv.

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