Looking through a stack of family pictures this morning I was impressed by the picture shown to the right. Gertrude Patterson Monroe Jones, born 1904, I remembered. What flashed through the canyons of my mind was a memory of the black and white TV version of "Heidi" where Shirley Temple [Heidi], lost in the forest, was yelling "Grandfather, Grandfather!". When lost in many of my childhood forests, it must have been "Grandmother, Grandmother", we called her "Mam Maw".
Her house on Jackson street was certainly a forest to a very young mind. The back yard extended to a deep drainage ditch where much of the rain water flowed. Here a tall peach tree stood with those tasty peaches calling from above the ground. [Those that had already fallen had flies, worms, or rot surrounding them which was not first on my menu of the day.] Throwing sticks would often be successful at knocking down a choice morsel, but this activity was often left unrewarded.
Now climbing this tree was a real challenge. It was at least 6-8 feet before you could even see the first branch! How was one to do this? Stacking up rocks...no, no, too heavy; jumping from the fence post standing nearby...no, no, too flimsy and too far...; getting help from big brother...no, no, I can do this...; on, and on, it would go! Many times I would punt and move to the cherry tree much nearer the house. It had a V-shaped trunk just 2-3 feet off the ground which provided a much easier access. However, the cherries had those large central pits which made for hazardous chewing at times, and you always had to spit a lot.
The day finally came when I was determined to climb this peach tree. Moving a wheelbarrow near and under the lowest branch..., balancing perfectly in the center..., jumping carefully... I could just touch the bottom of the lowest branch. I can do this. Position, jump, grab, climb, and one of those tasty peaches would be mine!
At least the first three items were completed successfully. However, instead of the "climb", I experienced "the fall". Landing flat on my back, I had the wind knocked out of me. I could not breathe! Looking up through the leaves dancing in the summer's wind, I thought this is what it must be to die. Summer, sun light sprinkling its rays through the leaves... and that peach smiling down at me from above..."Grandmother, Grandmother!"