We always thought our next door neighbor was a crotchety old man. He told us over and over again to get off of his tamarack tree. Its low slung branch was so tempting to swing up on.
“Get down from there! You’ll break the branches!” he would yell at us. We would jump down from that old tamarack tree and run to the alley. We’d start climbing the huge pine that grew there, much to dismay of Mom. We would come home with sticky sap stains on our skin and clothes.
With two babies and two big kids at home, Mom had plenty of laundry to keep on top of. Not to mention the ironing she needed to do as a pastor’s wife. She had to stay on top of those wrinkles in the shirts Dad wore with his suits, and she dreaded the days he brought home his robes to be washed and ironed. So when we came home with sap on our shirt elbows and grass stains on our pant knees, she would just look at us and sigh. And out we would run, back outdoors, to find more trees to climb.
Our neighbor must not have been as crotchety as we thought. We would run across his backyard playing tag, and run onto his large front porch during games of hide-and-seek.
When the training wheels came off our bike, our neighbor was the one who took my sister and me to the alley. He held the back of our bicycle seats and ran next to us until we mastered the art of balancing on two narrow wheels without falling.
No, he wasn’t as crotchety as we thought. But we still couldn’t get away with climbing that old tamarack tree.
Written in response to the following prompt for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop: A memorable neighbor.