Over the past year, I’ve become fascinated with stories about childhood encounters with animals. It started with Julian Martin’s description of his grandmother clubbing, skinning, and cooking a groundhog; since then, it seems everywhere I turn I hear great stories about courage, life and death, love and affection, loyalty and hearbreak connected to children and animals.
What’s your story?
via Essays on Childhood: Wild Things | Esse Diem.
Ours was the third house to be built in the ‘new’ neighborhood. A subdivision of homes was being built in the woods. THE WOODS. We moved into the house in the fall, and I played in the woods around the house beginning then and through the winter. When I turned seven in April my mother sent me outside to play.
“No really, you have to go outside… and play… Go…”
So I went. Outside. Into THE WOODS.
via In a Man’s Voice: Outside by Brent Aikman | Esse Diem.
If Dad longed for anything, though, it was Italy. He didn’t share much with us, however. His mother died of cancer while he was in college. Childhood memories were hard. And, though his dad remarried, his mother wasn’t there to pass-on family history, to tell us stories of his childhood. When the family gathered, however, siblings would reminisce. Most had to do with “the family mission,” like how he, his siblings, and his cousins torched a roadside shrine in some northern Italian village, thinking they were advancing the cause of Christ.
via This World Is Not My Home by Jeremy Paden (part 5) | Esse Diem.
My father was an amateur magician. With a sleight of hand, he used to pull coins from the ears of grandchildren, use his nimble fingers to shuffle a deck of cards into a magic trick. He could separate inseparable rings.
He was a busy man when I was growing up. One of only three doctors in my hometown, he was up and out early, and though he most always was home for supper, often in the middle of it, the phone would ring, or people would show up at the back door, and he was gone again. My mother, brother, sister and I shared him all those years, waiting at home as he delivered babies (12 in 24 hours once), treated hearts — both broken and diseased — mended bones and emotions, nurtured families as they took root, grew old, died.
via Essays on Childhood: Pick a Little Talk a Little by Susan Byrum Rountree | Esse Diem.
Douglas Imbrogno is an exceptionally creative man, someone who can tell a story both in words and in pictures.
His essay here tells of a pivotal dynamic in his childhood, and of the night his emerging adult identity intersected his parents’ stormy marriage.
Something has broken in me. I quiver head to toe, shaking uncontrollably for minutes. I do not to this day have the words to describe what broke, unless it was something like the compact between parent and child. It had something to do with the fact that never again could I look at my parents without complicity, a knowing and direct participation — both embarrassing and far too personal – in the magnitude of their estrangement.
via In a Man’s Voice: Happy Again by Douglas Imbrogno | Esse Diem.
Family music time with the cousins!
via For the Love of Music by Lisa Lewis Smith | Esse Diem.
“When I went to college in South Carolina, I sometimes babysat for a young family. The Daddy went to Episcopal High School, a boarding school in Virginia, and coincidentally was roommates with my cousin Will Carter. He told me about his trip to Lewisburg once, his first to West Virginia, with Will to meet his family. He remembers driving into a beautiful piece of property, open and lovely in the spring green, and as they pulled in closer to the Prichard house, two young men, not much older than he and Will, were standing naked in the field playing their stringed instruments.”
via For the Love of Family by Lisa Lewis Smith | Esse Diem
“Chaos is not uncommon in a big family. During a televised football game at one of the many Thanksgiving holidays we spent at Smithover, my older brother surprised us all during the half time show. He pulled out his shotgun (safely, but without warning) and struck a buck from our back deck, out of nowhere. The younger kids jumped for joy. Once the gun was locked away, they ran to inspect the kill. It was not a customary family event. One of my cousins left with her young child and did not return on that trip. But she did eventually return. Your family can really turn you off…but it always amazes me how you come back home for the holidays. That is the beauty of family. They say you can’t pick your family….but I sure would pick mine if I had the chance.”
via For the Love of Natural Beauty by Lisa Lewis Smith | Esse Diem
“The open fields are peppered with giant oak, maple and elm trees. When I was a child, the trees looked like giants waving down at me with their many branches. Sometimes I would even pretend to shake one of their hands. It reminds me of the endearing and imaginative children’s book, When Giants Come to Play, which portrays imaginary giant friends that play hide-and-seek, toss marbles, and drink tea with a young child.”
via For the Love of Lewisburg by Lisa Lewis Smith | Esse Diem
“In the 1920’s, my great grandmother Elizabeth Dana Smith, or “Grandma Dana,” inherited what had been the Lipps Family Farm, about two hundred acres southeast of what is now downtown Lewisburg. It eventually became the summer stomping ground for her sixteen grandchildren known as the “sweet sixteen” cousins, one of whom is my dad. They named the property Smithover.”