The Evergreen Chinese Ligustrum was in full, fragrant bloom recently. In a post written last year, I complained about that awful, sickeningly sweet fragrance I despise and could become sick over, but the bees and butterflies swarm these evergreens like flies on cow plop. Around the first of June on a sweet smelling afternoon, I experienced a butterfly and bee bonanza that happens only once a year.
In the city, we didn’t have space for ornamental ponds, lots of foliage and trees or landscaped gardens. My Mom grew Marigolds, a few tomatoes, Zinnias, and Mexican Roses on an eighteen inch patch between the chain link fence and sidewalk out back which led to a concrete alley speckled with black gravel. Oh, I loved the games we played in that alley.
Not many butterfly memories but I remember plenty of bees that stung bare feet and lightning bugs in July!
My parents, children during the Great Depression, were survivors more than naturalists. My Mom shared her late-thirties and forties farming stories that I loved to hear but my Dad grew up on a city block. Their lifestyles were never more or less than “no frills”.
In elementary school, I don’t remember being taught much about science but I do remember history, perhaps because I hated that subject most of all. The tomboy in me diverted my attention to the classroom windows and to daydreams about my next game of dodge ball on the side street off the avenue instead of listening to a boring science or history lesson given by a teacher who really didn't care. Boring, boring, boring.
I didn’t learn about butterflies but I learned to be compassionate towards ethnic groups. I learned to be generous with brown-eyed, olive skinned, curly haired, skinny Jackie, my elementary school Italian playmate straight from Sicily. She had one freckle on her face and I had thirty-one. Jackie and her large family lived about fifteen doors down the avenue and even though her parents were non-English speaking shoemakers, Jackie didn’t always wear leak-free shoes. They grated fresh romano cheese and ate spaghetti every day as a side dish for supper, didn’t have carpet and walked on cracked tile floors. Poor Jackie never owned a bike so she rode my two-wheeler. I taught her to ride that bike and my parents bought her snowballs or nickle-sicles from the trucks that rode the back alley several times a day. Jingle bells from heaven! Her enormous older sisters, Rosina and Maria, beat her. It was not a game. I’d wince and swing back at them many times and used switches if I had enough time to plan my attack. What a wild bunch of bitches we were!
And I learned that Jews made the best bread and pastries and owned most of the jewelry stores and dress shops in town. Polish were the hardest workers and the most generous souls, Greeks and Germans were the best cooks in the best restaurants, and Italians had the cleanest neighborhoods in Baltimore City. Yes, you could lick the marble steps leading to their front doors.
When I was a teenager, I learned to tuck my ones low in my sock before I boarded the bus and shopped downtown with my girlfriend, very tall Mary Lee. I always looked up to her for that reason. Years later, when I was a young adult chick working downtown, I learned to always carry a large umbrella to be used as a defense weapon. A few truant kids felt it on their backs and limbs more than once! Those thieving brats deserved my wrath.
I understood and comprehended early.
I learned to steer clear of the feel-good stuff that flowed freely in the girls’ Catholic high school I attended in the late sixties and early seventies. Those gals had the funds and I didn’t. Funny – I didn’t miss it or need it or want it.
That’s when, in my high school years, I realized I was financially challenged. It doesn’t take long for things like this to come to light when you are in math class with daughters of medical doctors. I didn’t realize my status until 1969, so it was alright because in many ways I was very rich, indeed! It was all good. I didn’t have butterflies but I had a boom box.
So, I did not learn to correctly identify bugs and butterflies and wish I had...
It isn’t too late. I am ordering a field guide for bugs and butterflies this week ;-) Any suggestions?
a return Visit
10 months ago