Maybaskets and other Spring Things

DSC08797The sun is higher in the sky now and it makes Twitchell Pond look like a layer of diamonds as it bounces off the blue water, so welcome after months of cold, ice and snow.

The month of May brings Ma’s mayflowers, which always make her smile as she gathers a few for the kitchen table.  This is when our Greenwood Center ball team goes into full swing. May isn’t as showery as April, but we still have patches of mud but that does not keep Curt or Rex from bringing out their baseball bats. Rex always puts some kind of oil in his glove and keeps rubbing it in…I think he says it breaks it in for another year. Maybe they get stiff over the winter.

I think one of the more exciting things to look forward to are the Maybasket hangings. It is so much fun to fill a basket with candy of all sorts and to sneak up to a neighbor’s house and yell “Maybasket” and run until the person catches you. Usually you yell the person’s name after you yell Maybasket.  Sometimes at school, we plan the maybaskets. Usually we hang them on a Friday or Saturday night as most kids can stay up later. We all pool our money and buy penny candy either at Hank Leach’s store or Arthur Vallee’s store and we just squirm with excitement as we think of the fun we will have.

One year, the tables were turned on me!  I was sitting at the kitchen table and suddenly I heard, “Maybasket, Sandra” . Oh, no! Dark as pitch out and I did not see car lights come into the yard. I found out later it was parked up the road and everyone sneaked into the yard. Well, I out the door and I could hear the shouts and taunts echoing across my Grandfather’s pasture. How could I ever catch them all in the dark? I think if I caught a couple, they might help me get the others. The person close to me was shouting and taunting and I recognized the voice as John Chase. Well, I ran after him and over the barbed wire fence he jumped. I knew I could never jump the fence, so decided I could squirm under it. I was on my stomach trying to accomplish all this and he was within a stone’s throw laughing,which of course infuriated me. Suddenly, the seat of my dungarees caught on the fence and ri-i-i-p-p-p, what a sound and what a feeling! I yelled out loud, “My pants are ripped…” and John laughed even harder, so hard in fact, he tripped over some brush and down he went. He was captive #1. The chasing went on for what seemed like forever but at least John helped when he wasn’t laughing at the flapping seat of my pants.  I think we chased for an hour and then everyone came out of the hills like worms out of the ground and gathered at the house. We all shared the candy but there was enough left for at least a week to munch on.  The basket was yellow, pink and light blue crepe paper all beautifully wound around with long streamers. I kept the basket long after the candy was gone just to remind me what fun we had and what good friends I had.

Fishing is usually the topic of the day. Dad has just bought a Martin outboard motor to put on Uncle Louis’s boats so he can troll for brown trout. That is very peaceful because I always sit in the front of the boat and just look at the camps as we pass by. Eichel’s, Nick’s Point, Wagner’s, Jacob’s, Cushman’s…there are so many and some I do not even know who owns them. Many people come from Berlin and Gorham, New Hampshire and Dad says they drive too fast down our road which is all pot holes and frost heaves.

We take a Chase & Sanborn coffee can and go over behind Grampa’s barn. There is a little area we call the worm place. One push of the spade and there are gigantic night crawlers and worms of all sizes. Sometimes we sell the night crawlers to the fishermen who come to Birch Villa Inn in Bryant Pond.  We have a mixture of dry mustard and water that we use at night. I don’t know where Tink learned about it, but it works. We find a worm hole in Gram’s lawn and put a little down the hole and out comes the night crawler!!  I usually hold the flashlight for this operation. When it rains, we walk the road and find worms, too. This is fisherman heaven, I tell ya!

Peanut, Tink’s old tomcat goes off for weeks and comes back battered and cut up and usually with one ear hanging down with dried blood and all. Dad says one of these days if he doesn’t stop “tomming” he will shoot him. Well, none of us want that. Peanut is a good old cat and does what comes natural to tomcats. He would be much more handsome, IF he did stay at home that is for sure.

Ma has taken down the kitchen curtains and washed them and I helped her hang them on the clothesline.  Tink is going to buy linoleum for the kitchen floor to make it easier on her to keep the floor clean. I try to scrub it sometimes when they are working but the rough wood makes it hard with the old rag mop.

Mayflowers, Maybaskets, the blue of Twitchell Pond, apple tree blossoms….it is a beautiful month in Greenwood Center.

(Note) One of  my fondest memories of the late John Chase was the Maybasket. He never forgot the time I ripped my pants and when we saw each other as adults, he always started laughing and reminded me. Do kids make memories that last any more? If not, they are missing something precious.

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