My next visit was the summer I was one when my parents had gone to Oregon for work. I started out in Buffalo, at my grandparents’ house, and then accompanied them and my sixteen year old Aunt Cary to their summer place in Pike. I had just learned to walk, and here I am still pretty tentative about trying to pick up a croquet ball and still remain upright. I love that my aunt is wearing a dress on a summer afternoon. I never saw my grandmother in pants, and I am sure she expected Cary to look “presentable” wherever we were. Fortunately I got to wear my corduroy overalls to totter around.
I think that the feeling of safety and peace that I associate with Pike took root during this sojourn with my grandparents and aunt. While my grandmother was fairly restrained, a product of her upbringing by a Victorian English mother, my grandfather had no pretense and a rollicking sense of humor. I know that he adored me, and my memories of him throughout my life are positive ones.
The side yard at Pike was flat and an ideal place to play croquet. I played it throughout my growing up years, continuing to play it as an adult. I am dreadful at the game, despite my years of play. Still I love the thwack of hitting the ball and the bang it makes when it hits another’s ball. And there is no joy so complete as placing your foot on your ball, placed next to your opponent’s ball, and hitting yours hard enough to send the other one flying. Supposedly croquet is a sedate afternoon pastime. Not any game that we ever played. It was all about knocking the opponent’s ball far across the yard.
The sun is out. Our grass is mowed. Where is our croquet set anyway?