PHOTO: TYGH VALLEY
CATEGORY: EARLY CHILDHOOD
There was a house. It was a small white house with a porch across the front. There was a mother on the porch. She was wearing a long white dress. She was a caring, cheerful mother and she was always on the porch. If I stood on the porch too, and looked out, this is what I saw: to the right, off across a lot of lumpy round rocks there was a creek full of happy water. The creek was named Tygh Creek and it made a come-here-and-splash kind of noise. Straight ahead, way off, there was a road and it was high up, almost higher than the house, because it went over the top of the creek. Over to the left, the ground–the same ground the house was on–sloped up to meet the road and the road tapered down to meet the ground, and across the road, but a distance away, was a service station and inside the service station was a store. It was a scary place, but there were things in it that were smooth and had shapes and colors, but which I was not to touch. Right in front of the service station the road curved to the left and went up a hill.
I lived in that house with the porch and the mother on the porch. I was very little but I had two sisters who were bigger and we played beside the creek. The mother was my very own mother. She was on the porch to say DON’T GO DEEPER THAN YOUR KNEES. The creek played catch-me-if-you-can. We could go over the round rocks next to the water and under the bridge. If we did that, the creek turned to the left and followed the road. Then we were on the other side of the road-mountain and we could not see the house, but the mother came with us. The creek was deeper there and bushes grew along the edge. There was sand there too. That was where we were when my sister Mary got her toe caught by a craw dad. It hurt her and she screamed. I screamed too even though it didn’t catch me.
I don’t ever remember crossing the road to the service station by myself, but sometimes I went with my sister, Gracie, who was a big safe girl. There was a bench beside the door to the store, and a fat man sat on the bench. I did not like to go near the fat man because he wasn’t us. I did not like to go inside the store because it was dark and my father was dark too and he was there. He had dark eyes that said don’t-come-in-here and were so dark that he could see right through the high shelves full of things in cans and bottles and boxes so there was no place to hide.
One time, in front of the service station, someone had a red wagon and someone had a white horse, and that someone said, “I can make my horse sit in the wagon.” and he did. The horse actually sat in the red wagon scattering gravel with its hind feet, and it bent the wagon. The boy whose wagon it was started to cry. I felt very sorry for him and I cried too. I think this must have been a dream. Can a horse really sit in a child’s wagon?
Another time Gracie came home from the store and she was laughing. She said that the fat man who sat on the bench always pulled up his pants at the knees before he sat down, and so this time she had walked right up to him and asked him, “Why do you pull up your pants legs before you sit down”? His face turned red and he mumbled, “So I won’t tear my pants.” Gracie had laughed all the way home because she thought it was so funny. There is no accounting for some little girl’s taste in humor. That is all I remember about the time we lived in Tygh Valley when I was two years old.