Yesterday I got up at 6 am and started mowing the yard. The weather forecast was for nothing but hot, hot. I dreaded doing it so much I wanted to get it over with, and besides, I had company coming from Kansas City. So I pushed away those bed sheets and headed out to wrestle that mower. I was soaking wet like a sponge in a mop bucket when I was finished.
I made a carafe of cinnamon orange tea and pitcher of Tropical tea, pushed up the umbrella shade, and set out dishes on the deck. Tracy arrived right at lunch time so we set to eating, drinking, and talking. We talked until nearly 7:00 when she headed back to the city. We had missed a summer visit last year and Tracy made it happen this summer in celebration of her June birthday month.
It was the 80’s when she arrived in my neighborhood. With two boys about the same age as my boys and houses two doors apart, we found a lot in common. Besides rearing boys, we read the same books, held the same religious beliefs, appreciated poetry, and were politically attuned to one another. It was swimming lessons, movies, bike rides, baseball cards, and more with the boys that first summer and beyond. We both believed children needed discipline and respect for elders; we both knew our children weren’t perfect, but we aimed to make them as shiny bright as we could. We really worked hard as mothers.
Although we had a lot in common, we had differences too. She was built like a Pretzel rod and I was a Cheetos Cheese Puff. She grew up in the heart of Missouri; I grew up in the corner of Kansas. I liked jalapenos, and she liked food with less fire. I liked bounding out of bed at dawn; she liked to do her housework at midnight or later. We each had grown up with dad’s who loved to do Sunday drives, dragging their families aimlessly over miles of Midwestern highways. But it was the 1950’s and while my car knew no bounds, her car could only stop at certain places, Separate but Equal.
Once the kids were off to school in the fall, we walked and talked the mornings away. We noted the passing seasons, waved to old gents on front porches, petted snarly haired dogs out on short leashes with gray haired grannies. We walked the two miles to downtown where we might pay bills, shop a tad in the few stores left on the town square, and then settled in at the local deli for a diet drink and an arguing session with the deli owner. (He argued about everything. You just had to choose a side and he took the other!) Then it was another two miles home again.
We had been walking the streets for a few years before I learned the retired neighbor man had been calling us Salt and Pepper at the local coffee shop. Since we called ourselves Street Walkers, we saw the humor in his name too and were not offended. We were fixtures here for a decade until one day her husband’s company required a transfer. Devastated, we both adapted and dealt with the news as people do with life changes. We were not happy about it though. We managed to stay in touch as many folks don’t do now days, and both our lives are richer tapestries for the threads of friendship we have woven together over time.