Wednesday, April 13, 2011
No. 27 The Silver Maples are Turning
If you look closely you will see that the “silver maples are turning,” meaning that as their leaves blow in the wind, you can see the silver under-bellies of their leaves. To my father’s generation that meant one thing more than any other – “there are sea-mullets schooling at the Cape.”
Noticing the maples reminded of the following that was penned by my oldest brother, Ralph. He lived most of his adult life on the west coast – mainly on Mercer Island, WA, overlooking Lake Washington. A few years before returning to live at the Island in 1992 he penned the following and sent it to me.
The Silver Maples
Ralph Hancock (at about age twelve)
One day this past summer I was driving east on I-40. As I left Mercer Island and crossed the Mercer Slough, I looked to my left and noticed a silver mass enveloping the Woodridge area. It was only the Maple trees showing their silver color in the breeze.
Suddenly I was in the summers of my boyhood, when if you stood down at the landing in the summertime and looked up toward Bet's and Tom Martin's house you would see the same Silver Maples as I saw that day.
In the afternoon, and with the wind from the southwest, if you stood at the comer of Old Pa's house and looked over toward Whale Creek Bay and Wade's Shore woods, the warm breeze would come straight into you face.
Look at the boats swinging at the their stakes with their bows into the wind. Dad's boat is there proudly showing the name "Ralph." Big Buddy's boat is there, smaller than the others and you knew her name was "Best Bug," even though it was never painted on her bow or stern. Old Pa's boat is there. Her stake is a little closer in than the others. Calvin's boat, Uncle Danny's, the "Ram" (the name known only to insiders of Aaron Moore's boat), and too many others to count are there as well.
The fish house is standing idle. It's kind of a sleepy afternoon. The tide is up and small waves are washing the shore. In the air there is a faint smell of salt and sea weed. The skiffs are hauled on the shore and the nets are on the net spreads drying.
Up at Old Pa's store he, Old Pa that is, is saying to Big Buddy and Daddy, "Louie and Charlie, it will be low water about 8 0'clock in the morning and unless I miss my guess this wind will calm down on the ebb tide. "Sterling says that those Davis Shore people say there is a good sign of mullets along the eastard (Core) Banks. If you will get your nets on them skiffs and come with me, I promise you we'll catch some mullets in the morning.
Ralph, "Lou Helens" (Old Pa's name for Louie Hallis, my cousin), and "Hess" (Old Pa's name for Creston, my cousin) will come with us. And anyway, there are always mullets in Epham's Camp Bay."
Can you believe, all this passed through my mind, and in living color, while driving at 60 mph on the freeway? I still get good feelings when I see the silver maples in the wind. How beautiful those days were how I loved the small world I lived in. How I loved the people around me.