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A few reminiscences of Willowbog

2019-11-21 17:26:47.6633+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Visit with me, for a moment, in the house in which I spent my formative years, 1st through 7th grade. That cluster of foliage to the right is a purple lilac, overshadowed by a large maple. The cluster to the left is a white lilac, I forget what kind of tree towers over it, but I remember a swing hanging from it, and then a rope with a couple of pulleys with which I learned about reduction of force, using my own body weight.

The purple lilac cluster grew dense with foliage, but was relatively open on the inside, so was one of our many outdoor houses and forts.

To the right is a gentle slope, presumably where the old carriage path ran, because there were ruts on it, where I broke my left arm riding a tricycle down it, and deliberately crashing the tricycle.

If you click through https://binged.it/2XExB6e , turn right, and go down road a little, you'll see two barns to your left. The first was the garage; I remember my dad replacing chipped gears in a transmission in one of the Volvos, I remember setting up a Jacobs Ladder, with its rising arc, because of course everyone had a neon sign transformer or two in their parts box.

I remember using an old car starter motor and a battery to try to electrify that coasting go cart I built from an old baby carriage. Didn't work, 'cause I couldn't figure out how to get from the starter gear to the wheels; just ground away the tire rubber. If you go a little further north, across that culvert, you can see the hill we'd coast down.

The second had hay chutes, and was spectacular for hide and seek, and climbing up the hay chutes, and jumping down from the second story. And an old metal sign on it advertising De Laval Cream Separators, how I learned about centrifuges.

When we moved in, the house across the street was owned by a lady named Belle, who did not think we were good neighbors. Might have had something to do with goats getting out and gallumphing across her porch early in the morning. But at some point she sold, and a family from New York City bought it as a weekend place. Their son, Marco Puccio, and I got into all sorts of trouble, from studying the bats in the old ice shed(?) on their property, to, one day, deciding we wanted to go all the way to the top of the hill to the north. Our parents made us wear helmets for bike riding, and we thought that'd be a good idea, and we raided the attic for the most padded winter clothing we could find. Tearing down the hill, I was steering, he slid back and mucked up the balance, and we veered off into the swamp to the east. Right beside all the sharpened tree stumps left by the beavers.

We decided that maybe that didn't warrant another ride down the hill, so, in the middle of July or August, wearing our deepest winter clothing, soaking wet, we nonchalantly walked the go kart back to the barn, past our parents who were engaged in some conversation, as though nothing at all was amiss.

Bing used to have a closer aerial view. It looks like the house has been turned since the last time I was there, and when that aerial view was taken, but the house was, authentically, painted white on three sides and barn red on the back, because back in the glory days of the house white paint was expensive, so you'd only use it for the visible sides.

If you switch to satellite view, there are a few new houses in the area now, the place is kinda built up since we lived there, but behind the house is a pond. My grandfather made me a little rowboat, and we spent many hours exploring that pond and the stream and swamp, fishing for catfish, smashing the leaches that attached to our paddles.

There's a hill down to the pond from the back of the house. In winter we'd skate on the pond, and toboggan down the hill out on to the ice. My dad found a big ol' surplus sodium vapor lamp, probably brought it home from work, and hooked it up. It probably took half an hour or 45 minutes to come up to temperature, especially in the cold cold winters, and get bright, but it meant we could continue into the evening.

And skate while the ice developed cracks with loud booming from expansion. And try to lure the goats on to the toboggan.

I learned to shoot beer cans filled with water with a bolt action 22 on that back hill, the pond made a backstop, the cans would jump and fly with water spewing out of them.

There's a berm just south-south-west of the house, jutting out over the hill, that had an old outbuilding on it when we moved in. I remember my dad and someone else, maybe a friend, maybe his brother Ron, knocking that building over using an old car axle as a battering ram.

We had probably 3/4 of an acre of land as garden. We had a Kubota B6000 tractor with a Woods RM48 rear mount mower with which we cut paths through the brush, out through the evergreen grove to the southwest of the house. My dad wondered why the setup did a great job with the brush but not really on the lawn, and then discovered the b blades were on backwards.

There was an old outhouse on that field to the south, I don't remember if we actually ever used it, and we had bees by the garden there...

And, of course, the giant old willow towering over the pond and the beavers and the great blue heron and all of the other wildlife...

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Privacy Nature and environment Invention and Design History Sociology Consumerism and advertising Work, productivity and environment Heinlein Beer Automobiles Fabrication Skating Clothing Pedal Power New York Race Bicycling Real Estate Gardening ]

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