That summer I fell in love for the first time, with the big weeping willow across the street in the park. Her arching boughs reached the ground enclosing me behind her leafy emerald skirts. Hidden within the fortress of her shade, I played with my dolls, had tea parties with Maria, read “My Weekly Reader” books, and sometimes just talked with her. She always smiled and lovingly responded to me. She was my mother, my sister; my best friend all rolled into one. And she made a great swing! At thirteen, her thick trunk held me as I pressed my back onto her while necking with my first boyfriends.
At fourteen we moved away from Niagara Falls to live at the mouth of the Eighteen-Mile creek on Lake Ontario. That was the summer I really learned to swim. The water seemed so pristine and clear back then. Holding my breath as long as I could, I lazily floated, face down, eyes open, to watch the movement of tiny creatures and the dancing reflections of sunlight and shadows glinting on the velvet sand beneath me.
After that, another long period of dark gray sadness oppressed me, except for a few pleasant memories of heavy snowstorms blanketing the world in crystalline. And a few hormonal stirrings that suddenly made beautiful, the muscles rippling beneath a boy’s shirt. Breathtaking! My history grew so dark after this that beauty did not seem to exist. Except for the captivating deep warm brown of my first-born baby’s eyes and the tender pink rose petal luminescent quality of my second born. Was she an infant or a flower?