Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Cellar

In which our Young Heroine escapes Death (long before cancer). 

There was an old potato cellar a quarter of a mile down the road from my house as I was growing up.  In the halcyon days of the Scott family farm, it may have actually stored potatoes, but in my day it had long been converted into an overly large trash bin.  Potatoes like sandy soil best (I think) and we had heavy clay.  I will say that “The Cellar,” as it came to be called, was long in disuse, but not long abandoned because it was the best place ever for a kid to play. The family adults tended to use it as a junk yard for various items that they either were too lazy to get rid of properly or for which they still had some strange affinity (a couple of old beloved cars, for instance, minus the glass, engine, and back seat, but with important things like a stick shift and gas pedal).    The junky area was known to be dangerous, but to an 8 or a 10 year old looking for the perfect spot for her imagination to run rampant, safety is overrated.
The cellar looked like a long low triangle running back from the road between fields.  It had some (I think) useful farm equipment parked in the one safe end near the road and then yards of interesting garbage scattered throughout the end you would normally store potatoes.  It was cool and shady inside.  Where the roof was falling apart, great beams of sunlight would slice down to the earth, illuminating dusty motes as they swirled around in front of you and creating great lines from the shadowy wooden slats still intact above.  I am sure that my older brothers and cousins have great tales of daring adventure there at the cellar because every now and then I would find the strangest collection of unrelated junk propped together to make a rocket ship, or a cockpit there on the floor.  These mounds of garbage held memories. None of the following images are the actually cellar, but will hopefully illustrate what I’m talking about:

There was an old potato harvester machine that sat a little out from the open side of the cellar.  It was the best toy yet.  It had metal stairs that led to a “front door” that led to a “hallway” with “rooms” off the side.  When I first began playing there I found some junk (old music keyboard, etc) that seemed to indicate some kind of control center here.  My brother Todd later told me it was a space ship with a tone in his voice that said “if you weren’t a girl, you’d know that”.  Another room was deemed the “kitchen” by me.  It had a rubber counter top (where potatoes once rolled) and what looked to me to be a large window just above the sink.  If you crawled onto the “counter-top” and out the window, you could then mount some rubber “stairs” that led up the “second story.”  It was trickier here though because there was no floor.  You had to balance on the thin pieces of metal that acted as upper perimeter to the “rooms” below.   An old friend and distant cousin named B.J. helped me lay some found wood down to make a floor once, but we knew it was old and rotting, so we still didn’t step on it (much).  {Death-defying miracle 1} Below: Again, not the actual machinery.  Picture the arm close to the side of the harvester rather than sticking out and no cabin for a driver as it was pulled behind a tractor:

Closer to the cellar itself, there was also an old piece of equipment, nameless to me, that had razor-sharp discs on one side and an old seat with holes in it on the back.  Sometimes I would try to balance like a gymnast on the metal bits poking out from the side of the discs.  Dangerous, but delightful.  {Death-defying miracle 2} Right next to it were some old metal barrels and drums.  Complete with a few other found objects, it made the best and loudest drum set ever.  Clash! Clang! And Ding! Sounds that vibrated over the quiet afternoon desert on a regular basis.   
These and other wonders spilled out the open back of the cellar around a large colony of beehives—not wild, but set there on purpose to feast on the clover-like blossoms that grow on alfalfa hay.  The hives looked like a scuffed-up version of the thin, white dresser drawers sold at Walmart.  The people in my home town always had free honey from similar hives.  In front of the long side of the cellar, dirt had been mounded up here and there.  Earlier children of the Scott lineage—massive in number—had created a bike path of sorts throughout the dirt mounds.   It was great legacy of bike-riding territory, as long as you were good at avoiding all the darkly menacing badger holes.  Unfortunately, the last big hill of dirt on the path led straight through the bees, probably because the path pre-dated the bees themselves.  I had two bikes: an odd-looking and girly turquoise banana-seat bike and also an ancient but sturdy blue dirt-bike—a hand-me-down from my unwitting brothers. 
I always chose the dirt bike on those dare-devil days.  It had thick tires with rubbery nubs sticking out of them that would clench onto the loose soil on the way up the hills.  Down was always exhilarating.  On the last hill, sometimes I would pause and shade my eyes with my open hand, the other hand still on the bumpy and permanently dirty grip, and stare penetratingly into the distant mirages.  Then my eyes would move closer to the beehives, directly on the trail in front of me.  Only one more danger to live through to prove I was AWESOME!  Deep breath, and then down the steep incline fast—so fast that I almost couldn’t maneuver the bike in and out of the hives.  The sound of bees filled my ears, and then I was out and free.  And somehow, still alive to tell the tale.  {Death-defying miracle 3}

1 comment:

  1. LOL - I love this post! Brought back so many good memories!

    The potato equipment reminded me of an old rusty potato elevator (that's what we called it) that was on the farm. See http://www.ag-industrial.com/equipment/images/1/LPSTE-1.jpg for a picture of a similiar piece of equipment. Anyway, one day my brother and I decided that it would be really cool to climb up to the top. So I stood on the bottom while my brother climbed up. Then he was supposed to stand on the bottom while I climbed up. Of course, being a little brother, he didn't listen to a thing I said. So pretty soon both of us were standing on one end of a really, really tall teeter-tooter with no one standing on the other end. The end result was painful and required a trip to Dr.Mom and her magic bandaids.

    The fact that I lived to reach adulthood is proof that 1) There is a god. 2) His angels do watch over us. 3) Evolution will never rid humanity of stupidity.