Saturday, April 16, 2016
Night time can be a hard time for children and adults, winding down from hectic days and relaxing enough to get to sleep. During the winter months night time comes early, or at least darkness does. I remember winter days when the sun set almost as soon as we arrived home from school. Of course there was homework to be done, and piano practice, and often times a favorite TV show or two or three or more that needed to be watched. And of course there were chores. When you live on a farm with animals, there are daily chores year around. During the winter months the cows were kept close to the barn in the lounging sheds, so there was no need to bring them to and from the pastures, but they still needed to be milked and fed, and all of the other animals needed to be milked and fed too. With so many older siblings I didn't often have the milking chore, but I did have the chore to feed the calves every evening for most of my teenage years. Milk from the most recently freshened cows (those who had most recently calved) was set aside for all of the young calves who were separated from their mothers shortly after birth. I would carry a big bucket of this milk out to the calf pen and portion it out in small buckets with a nipple attached. The calves looked forward to their supper, and didn't take long to eat. That only left the washing up of the buckets before I could return to the house for my own supper and homework.
When I was very young, my bedtime was almost immediately after supper time. I remember sleeping on the bottom bunk in my bedroom for a few years, with an older sibling sleeping above me. When my baby sister was old enough to graduate from her crib, the bunk beds were moved upstairs with the older siblings and she and I shared a double bed that was inherited from some friend or relative. In spite of the hot water heated radiators under the two bedroom windows, the bed was usually somewhat cold when we climbed in on the dark winter evenings, I must confess that as the "older" sister I claimed the privilege of sometimes warming my cold feet on my sister's warmer legs, probably not the nicest thing in the world to do. Truth be told, we both helped to warm up the bed under the layers of covers and blankets.
I often had a hard time falling asleep. I'm not sure if it was all of the activity of a busy house full of six kids and their parents, an over-active imagination of all the scary things that could happen, or what, but sometimes I would still be awake when my parents were ready for bed. I'm sure it must have been trying for them, but they were good to comfort me with soothing backrubs, comforting words, calming music, and sometimes even a snack of crackers and milk. I believe that I always did eventually fall asleep, as I cannot remember staying awake all night until the night after High School Graduation. (Now that's a story for another day . . . not terribly eventful in case you were wondering.)
Summer nights hold much more pleasant memories for me. I don't remember having nearly as much difficulty falling asleep, unless I was away from home visiting relatives or on vacation. Long days full of play and work and activity made for a tired Marcy who was more ready to fall asleep. We were also allowed to stay up later since there was no school the next day, and would usually stay outside as long as possible riding bikes or playing night games like hide and seek or colored eggs, I don't know exactly who thought up the game of colored eggs. I don't know of anyone other than my siblings or my cousins who has ever played it before. One child is selected to be the big bad wolf and stands on the front porch or stoop of the house, and all of the other children are eggs. The eggs gather close by on the front lawn. Each egg thinks of a color, and then the wolf starts guessing colors. If the wolf guesses your color, you then take off running around the house, trying to beat him back to the front porch. If the wolf tags you before you reach the porch, then you become the wolf and take your turn guessing colors.
Some nights Daddy would build a bonfire in the homemade fire pit in the side yard and we would roast hot dogs and marshmallows and tell stories and sing songs around the fire. We would usually stay up late and look at the stars, and Daddy would point out the different constellations. The night summer skies in our mountain valley were usually clear, and the stars very bright and felt oh so close to the earth, and make the earth feel very close to heaven and to God. To this day I love photos of the night sky and the universe, and photos from NASA or Hubble are my background of choice on my computers both at work and at home.
Here's a recent blog post that I came across that echos the same, calming feeling that the night sky can bring: Are The Stars Still There?