Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No Particular Place to Be

Rachel is quickly learning the ropes of her job at the flower shop in Bloomington. She commented on a vase of Lillis Tammy had on our kitchen table and asked: "Are those Stargazer Lilies?" She works two days a week doing odd jobs while taking orders in person and on the phone. It's a good summer gig which leaves her plenty of time to put her feet up and recharge her batteries before she begins her sophomore year of college. It sounds like the kind of job where they'll be able to use her whenever she's home on break so there's no need for her to have to beat the pavement looking for work while competing with the masses of kids all doing the same thing.

I'm fair-skinned. I typically spend way too much time outdoors in the warmer months for my own good so I see a dermatologist a couple of times each year to be checked for any suspicious spots on my body that may potentially develop into skin cancer.  The spots are frozen and after a week or two, they're healed over and gone.

In addition to the spot-treatment, my dermatologist prescribed a new procedure for me (I had it done last week) that could only be described as a chemical peel of sorts. It's called Photodynamic Therapy and its purpose is to remove developing problems before they take hold. For about two days after the treatment, you're left looking like you got a bad sunburn, then the peeling begins.

A few days after I had it done I asked Tammy if she thought I looked any younger and she thought I did; "Ten minutes younger. Maybe" she replied. Hmmm. Not what I wanted to hear.

When I was 9 years old my parents moved our family of 8 into a new home they'd had built in Bloomington, Minnesota. The area then was still very much undeveloped and for the first couple of years there was so much untouched land for a kid to explore. I spent a lot of my time in search of frogs, snakes, turtles, pollywogs, skinks, mudpuppies and whatever other small creatures caught my eye. I once hatched a mosquito larva in a fishbowl on the nightstand in my bedroom. I remember seeing it fully emerged from the water and stretching its wings on the rim of the bowl. I let it go outside.

Very few weeks went by where I wasn't bitten at least once by a garter snake. It would only sting for a few seconds and they typically wouldn't bite more than once. Getting regularly bit went with the territory and I don't think I thought twice about it.

I cobbled together holding pens for some of my finds and tended to their needs. For my snakes, that meant a diet of frogs. I not only had to find the frogs but I had to catch them too and that wasn't always so easy. Why I didn't have a net I have no idea but I had a bowl. I'd sneak up behind a frog and try to trap it under the bowl before it had a chance to jump away. It was a mostly unsuccessful method. Then one day I had a eureka moment. I wondered if it would be possible to deliver a knockout blow to a frog's head then pick it up as it lay unconscious? I proceeded to find a tree branch a few feet long that I could use to do the deed.

It worked beautifully!

One quick whack and the frog never knew what hit it. It was like shooting ducks in a barrel. A few minutes later the frog would spring back to life in the confines of whatever container I was using. I was so excited about my discovery that I had to tell my dad as soon as he got home from work that night. I remember him following me to the pond I'd been working just a few doors down from our home (and what would eventually become the site of Bloomington, Jefferson Senior High School). I raced ahead to find my next victim. I showed him how easy it was and gave him my branch to give it a try.


He splattered the frog's head wide open.

"Not so hard, Dad!" A couple more attempts and he had it down.

I can't say it was a bonding moment between my dad and me but for the first time in my life, I was teaching him something rather than the other way around.

Before long my interest in hunting frogs and other reptiles would be replaced by a hunt of a different sort—that of golfballs along the 4th hole at Highland Greens, a mile west from where we lived. Any right-handed golfer with a tendency to slice the ball brought the fenced-off field into play and added to my potential bounty. I'd display my shiny finds in egg cartons with the ball's name facing up at golfers as the perused my collection while waiting their turn to play. A ball in excellent shape could easily net me .75c. $5.00 to $7.00 for an afternoon's work was good money to a 14-year-old who never got an allowance.

What's become of that world I used to know?

Hmmm—it appears that I've gotten a little sidetracked here with no particular direction in mind for this blog post. But I'm on vacation this week and I think that's how vacations should be...no particular place to be but at that moment—at least some vacations anyway. And that's where I'm at now—no particular place to be except where my mind takes me. And so I'm reminiscing.

Thanks for joining me.


David Bryan Gilmore said...

Do you remember that France Ave. was a dirt road from 98th south?

Kevin Gilmore said...

Yes, I remember that. Were you out in front of our house the time a few guys were galloping their horse on 102nd street and one of them fell? I felt bad for the horse but not the guy.

David Bryan Gilmore said...

That sounds familiar. We were at the end of the road for a little while. The little pond was not fenced in and there was junk and garbage in there. It seemed like a long time back then but in reality it was only a year before everything was complete along France.

Tim said...

Glad to see you refer to "garter" snakes. (I see them often around my yard.)

I've heard quite a few people refer to them as "gardener" snakes however (a pet peeve of mine).

Enjoy the rest of your week off!

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks, Tim.

Jackie said...

I so remember catching those garter snakes. I do not remember being bitten. I recall it being in this isolated area near a house that we felt was possibly abandoned but when you looked inside the windows it was very neat and orderly with antique furniture. It seemed as though it was occupied by an elderly person(s). I don't ever remember seeing anyone. I also recall a fairly steep hill of dirt. Perhaps it was in the Highland Hills area. We did have a lot of fun back in the day. I feel for kids who lack that adventure today.