Friday, May 16, 2008

The Importance of Childhood Memories

Only an adult perspective, twenty years later, has taught me that a few of my family’s traditions were less than normal.

Take, for example, our October trips to the cemetery to go “buckeye hunting.” A couple weeks before each Halloween, my mom, my brothers, and I went across the street to Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, plastic bags in tow, and mapped out our path to the five “best” buckeye trees.

When we got to our first tree, we raced around with our backs hunched, examining the grass for those smooth, brown nuts. If we were too late, the buckeyes would be gnawed and rotted. If we were too early, most of the buckeyes would still be in the trees. Luckily, we were ready for those high-up buckeyes: with the right amount of force, a shoe could knock down a buckeye, still in its shell. My brothers and I took turns throwing our shoes into the tree, hoping to retrieve a perfectly intact buckeye. More than once, a shoe got stuck among the branches, and it took another deft toss to knock the shoe down. By the time we left the fifth tree, our bags were heavy and full.

Later, I’d bring my sack of buckeyes to school for show-and-tell. I’d never thought about the sight we must have been, three kids and their mom, shoeless, running around a graveyard.