Rainy? Keep Yourself Busy!

IMG_1117That was one of Ma’s favorite sayings when we were growing up. If we complained about rain, she brushed the flour off her apron, looked exasperated and said, “Keep yourself busy.”  In other words, she had plenty to do and there was no need for us to complain that we didn’t. If we complained too much, she vowed she would find something to keep us busy!

One of my favorite times for it to rain was when we would be visiting Winnie on Rowe Hill.  Curt and I would walk up the stairs, past the little dining alcove and on to the kitchen. She seemed to know we were at loose ends, so out came her glass jar full of choclate “bits” and an invitation to take a handful.

As the rain pounded down, we discovered the magic through her ViewMaster which had photos of far away countries. One click of the finger and another picture popped in front of my eyes. We were very careful to put each reel back in its proper envelope. Occasionally, we cranked up her phonograph and listened to some Gene Autry records. She had one rule: if we started a record, we had to listen to it all the way through. Yes, even if we did not like the song, we had to listen to it. No listening to three words and then replacing it with another record. I think that is the only rule Winnie ever gave us..and a reasonable one at that.

Days went quickly with the rain pouring down when we visited Winnie. We watched Wilmer, her brother, go to the barn and return with a pail of milk. What a treat for us because at home Dad had all the milk because of his ulcers. Sometimes Rex and Roland worked for Wilmer in his field of cucumbers, picking them at the right size for the pickling factory in South Paris. Those were long days in the hot sun.

At home, when it rained, the days could be long, but usually I sat at the kitchen table and cut out paper dolls from the old Sears catalogs that Gram saved for me and it was a special treat when she gave me her catalog of wallpaper samples. I could draw and cut out my own dresses from all the designs and the paper dolls looked splendid.

Sometimes the rains came with heavy thunderstorms. Oh, boy! We watched as the lightning danced off Rowe’s Ledge across the pond and Dad told us if we were ever in a boat or near the pond and a thunder storm came, to run like the devil for home! One time Lewis Cole, who had a cottage on the other side of the pond, was severly hurt by lightning.  Dad worked with him and was very upset.

We knew when it was going to rain as we could hear the train going up the track near Bryant Pond, as clear as a bell!  Soon, we’d  see the rain hit the pond way over by Moose Cove and watch it come across the pond in our direction. Ma said she could smell the rain in the air before it came. Dad said that was the Abnaki in her and she said he could be right.

It sounds like a strange combination but if Sunday was a rainy day, I was happy. I remember one Sunday morning, Dad came back from Gram’s, sat down with another cup of coffee and said “Fred Davis is over at the house.” That’s how he always referred to Gram’s farm. Ma wondered how long he was going to stay and Dad replied he had no idea and probably Fred didn’t either. See, I really didn’t know who Fred Davis was. I only know that when he came to visit, he brought his banjo and there was music. So if it was raining, I’d run over the path and into Gram’s kitchen to see if Fred had his banjo out and plunking a melody. Nine times out of ten, he would have it on his lap and some time while I was there, he would play a tune or two. I’d sit on the wood box lid and listen to the grown ups talk and Fred plunk and just keep quiet. Kids were made to be seen and not heard, Ma always told us, so we remembered that when we were visiting anywhere! If it were raining, no one was out doing any chores, except barn chores morning and night, so the music went on longer than usual. 

It seems that no matter where we were, we were never bored, rain or shine. Our imaginations ran wild and before we knew it, the day had gone and it was time for Ma and Dad to come from the mill. 

If I have one special memory about rainy days in Greenwood Center it is going to sleep in the attic lulled by the rain on the roof.  I would love to hear that again.

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