Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spending the Night with Darla

Darla was one of my best friends when I was in elementary school. She lived down the street within easy walking distance. Even though we were both from the other side of the tracks, literally, we lived very different lives. I was an only child living with my parents and grandmother, and she was the youngest of a large family, most of whom had grown up and left home. We spend countless hours together. My favorite times were when she would ask me to spend the night!

I don't remember spending the night in the summer, although I must have. What I remember was the winter. Once it was time to go to bed, we'd both put on our flannel nightgowns and take turns standing in front of the Dearborn gas heater. If you lifted the bottom of your gown slightly, it would fill with warm air and billow out! We took turns savoring the warmth, each shivering as soon as we backed away for the other to have a turn.

Once we finished the heater ritual, we would trot off to bed. Since Darla's mom was a quilter, there were several quilts on Darla's bed. I was not used to sleeping under quilts so they felt very heavy to me. Sometimes they seemed so heavy that it was hard to move! To get warm, I would pull my knees and legs up into my gown and put my face under the covers until I just had to come up for cold, fresh air.

After stories and giggles (and maybe a scolding or two) we'd fall asleep. Since Darla had a gas heater in her house, the air was moist. Condensation would form on the windows. If the night was cold enough, we'd wake to intricate frost patterns and ice on the inside of the windows!

In the morning we'd jump out of bed and run to the heater again, gowns billowing each in her turn! Mrs. Chapman always cooked up a hearty breakfast with eggs and biscuits! We would hurriedly eat and start our day of play.

I have lots of memories of fun with Darla such as using an axe head to hack down a poor little cedar tree to use for Christmas, putting empty cans in the street and then admiring them once a car drove over and flattened them, getting chased by cows in the field behind Darla's house, and walking barefoot all over the neighborhood until we developed thick callouses on our feet! But something about the sensory experiences of spending the night makes it stand out in my memory. What a blessing to be able to relive small moments in our lives time and time again! The details may become clouded but the feelings and sensations remain. I often remember these nights hunkering down under the blankets with Darla when our Texas weather turns icy! Sweet nostalgia!

One of Mrs. Chapman's quilts given to me for my birthday!

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