Each month, write a new collection.
Dear Longwood Avenue in winter,You start at the bottom, at the main highway beside the woods, and roll along flat for a while.Then you take an upturn abruptlymoving up a steep hill, houses on both sidesbig sugar maple trees lining the sidewalks.In winter, Dougal and the other big boysmade us little kids pack down the snowon the whole long hillsidespending all morning stampingwith our little boots up one linethen turn around and stamp downthe next line. I stamped three linesand came home to lunch tired and hungry but looking forward toafternoon sledding. But when welittle kids arrived pulling sleds, Dougal said, “Go home, you’re too smallto sled on this steep hill, right boys?”and his big boy friends laughed atus and agreed to keep us off.My mom was a gentle, quiet soulbut unjust treatment pushed hertoo far and she became a tiger.She, Christine’s mom, and Karen’smom came out to the hill, hands onhips and eyes blazing. Karen’sbrother Chris got sent home.Dougal bowed to force majeurand all of us sledded to our hearts’ content. Little Claude invited me into his house on the hill towarm up with hot chocolate.When the snow plows came throughthey made heaps of snow beside the streeteach side resembling a small hillock.We little kids tunneled into thesehillocks and made tunnels where wehid snowballs to throw at Dougal andChris and the other big boys. Dad said they would collapse andsmother us, to stay out, but wedidn’t and they never fell in.My back porch was glassed inand I put on and took off boots, gloves, hats, coats, outer sweaters in there.First thing in the morning, thewindows were covered with frost flowers and the sunbeamscoming through broke into rainbowsdecorating everything on the porch withbrilliant colors. I took as long to put onall those layers, staring at the rainbows.When the snow melted, we kept our bootshandy to slog across the wet meadows and through the woods to the pond where the tadpoles were beginning to hatch and swim away.Some years we had to bring back bucketsof the frog eggs because none of the tadpoleshad hatched yet. Then we spent hoursstaring into the buckets watching the eggswiggle until the tadpoles emerged. Oct 29 self forgivenessDear Self,You don’t do it all right, do you? And you can’t help feeling bad, chewing over the mistakes,especially ones where someonegot their feelings hurt throughyour bad actions. Or where youcontradicted what you think ofas your ethical principles. You’re too inclined to blame your momfor making you selfish over the tricycledonation she made you reverse inkindergarten. Or the condescension you thought you detected when shetalked about lower class peopleyou knew. Or the way you think shetreated black people. Never mindwhere she started, in Mississippi not that long after slavery, or whereshe went, playing songs for Christ the Kingnursery school in the black heart of Charlotte and leaving her church becausethey wouldn’t seat a black couplewho tried to come to services.Let yourself and her off the hook. Yes, she did well in old age. Yes, she was racist earlier and perhaps classist too. You didn’t have to copy her, but it’snatural to copy your parents. It’s timeto forgive yourself and go on.love,Laura