Summer of 1960 When I Was 7.... chapter 14.... We have pink bunnies and a pole barn!
Every day we’d be outside with either a puppy or a bunny in our laps. The puppies were growing as big as the bunnies. All three of them were brown with a white spot somewhere. One had a spot over the eye, I named him Bandit. Another had a white paw, he was Boots. And one had a spot on his tummy. She was my favorite. Her name was Penny. I loved to rub her milk- filled puppy tummy. She’d suck on my fingers leaving them smelling like puppy breath which I loved. Nothing quite smells like puppy breath.
One day as I was finishing my Frosted Flakes and digging in the bottom of the box for a toy surprise, Momma got out the food color and announced, “It’s time to color the bunnies so we can sell them.” She dyed the pretty, white bunnies pink, yellow, and green. I got to help make Pinky a pretty pink! And Marshmallow became bright yellow!
“Pretty!” exclaimed Patty.
“Oh, I love them,” I said. “Can we paint the puppies, too?”
“The bunnies are old enough now; I’m going to take them into town to try to sell them.”
“No!” I cried.
“You all stay with Irene,” Momma said as she gathered all eight beautiful colored bunnies into a box to take into town. I spent the afternoon holding Penny, the puppy, to soothe my hurt.
She came back with six bunnies. “I could only sell two of them. I wish I thought of this at Easter time, I bet they would’ve sold better then.”
“We can keep all the rest now,” I said as I grabbed the box.
“Don’t get too attached,” Momma said as she helped me put the remaining six bunnies in the cage. I gave Pinky and Marshmallow an extra hug. The Momma bunny just licked all those bunnies taking the color right off.
I would play outside all day. Often my sister and I would play in the pole barn where the rabbit cage was. It was a nice big shed with an open area with a roof to give us shade. Our father had built the pole barn the year before out of cypress trees cut from the middle of Lake Lewis. He put a tin roof on it and we loved to sit in the shade among all Daddy’s tools and equipment and play all day under its shade in the dirt and we even climbed on top of it. We were allowed to because we helped build it. It was on a day last summer and we all had to go because Irene wasn’t able to watch us and Daddy said he needed our mother’s help getting the wood. Daddy had borrowed a boat and trailer and we drove out to Lake Lewis.
“I want to ride in the boat,” whined Patty. We all wanted to.
“You can when we get to the lake,” assured Daddy.
“Can we feed Ole’ Sam?” I asked.
“Not today. We’ve got a lot to do,” answered Daddy. After we got to the lake, Daddy put all three of us girls in the little fishing boat with him and Momma backed the car into the water. After we were floating, Momma parked the car and waded into the water and climbed into the boat. Daddy sat in the back and drove the boat across the big lake, the little engine whining loudly. We squinted our eyes and giggled when the water would spray on our faces, the giggles disappearing in the wind that blew our hair out behind us. The boat slowed down when we got back to the middle of the lake where the cypress trees grew together. Standing in the dark water like sentries guarding the underworld, the trees towered above our little boat. The air was thick but it was cool inside the grove. Almost reaching down into the boat, the Spanish moss hung in deep gray masses over all the trees threatening to strangle everything it touched.
Daddy took out his saw and cut down five trees that were about the size of a can of vegetables around and longer than the boat. Momma helped him hold the trees while he cut them down, tied them together and floated them behind the boat so they could be dragged to shore.
“These will be perfect. Straight and tall for the corners with one for a center post. That’ll hold the roof.” Daddy said.
“Keep tight hold of Patty.” Momma kept telling Moonrose. Even though Patty was only 3 at the time, she sat pretty still. Moonrose kept promising her that we’d go fast in the boat again soon.
“Marilyn it’s your job to watch the trees in case a snake falls in the boat.” My head snapped back and I stared into the Spanish moss that drooped toward me. We spent a long afternoon while Daddy sawed down the trees so he could build his big shed. I didn’t take my eyes off the trees the rest of the time we were there. Surely, Daddy just said that to keep us still and quiet. There weren’t really any snakes in the moss, was there?
My dad built that pole barn last summer with all of our help. He placed one of the cypress trees in each of the four corners with one in the middle to hold up the center. He put on a tin roof and built a shed on the far end to keep tools and the lawnmower. The trees made the roof tall enough that a car could fit under it. My parents let all three of us girls climb on that roof and pound nails as much as we wanted. The noise from our hammering of nails on the tin roof could be heard for days. When we got tired, we had picnics in the shade underneath while my father worked in the heat overhead. He said that barn would last a lifetime because cypress trees were naturally decay resistant. I wonder if it’s still there.
to be continued.....