It’s always September when I think of her the most.
It’s on a perfect fall day such as this, here in the Midwest, that I think of her there, in New England, all those years ago. I can see her out pegging up the heavy wet laundry on the clothesline behind that old white frame house.
She would have pushed open the back screen door with her hip, carrying the round plastic basket of clean clothes down the steps and picking her way carefully across the yard littered with the small wormy green apples. She would have sighed, thinking that they really needed to be raked up. The leaves of the old apple tree would be shifting and turning in the light breeze, patterns of sunlight and shadow on her soft thinning white hair and her floral cotton blouse.
Over across the gravel drive, the bees from my grandfather’s hives would be lazily humming in the garden, planted fifty or more years before, its fruit sustaining through the long, lean years of the Depression and beyond. I can see the colorful and hardy nasturtium and the long gray stone wall that marked the edge of their property.
The bird song I listen to now, the screeching of the jays as if they sense the cold that is coming, the drops of the night’s rain on the last of the geraniums. The faint hum of traffic in the distance. She heard these same sounds, felt the same warmth of the sun as she lifted freshly washed sheets and towels and felt her arms ache as she moved slowly down the line, reaching into an apron pocket for the wooden pins, spacing them evenly.
She was the age I am now, my grandmother. Old in my child’s eyes when we visited in the summers.
Not so old now, just a kindred spirit.