Wednesday, March 31, 2010

crazy like spring (yellow)

spring makes me think of daffodils, tree houses and crazy people.

on the corner of my parents yard, where the gravel road turns to make its loop back toward the grave yard, there sat a pile of large random stones. one was a concrete ball with about 3 inches of rebar sticking out of it that i imagine adorned a wall at some point. green moss filled in the spaces on its rough skin; rust giving character as it spread into the stone from the base of the rebar.

it was beside this pile of stone that we built our tree house.

our dad did most of the work, building the deck, attaching the walls, even shingling the roof. but we got to paint it, using cans of left over paint from the corner of the garage and old soft bristle paint brushes. white was what we had most of and so white became our tree house, slowly between stoppages to rinse paint out of our eyes, from our haphazard painting.

as we painted, my sister sat on the stones, playing dolls in the dirt.

my heart, backfiring like a rusty muffler, sent goose flesh in waves to the shores of my arms, when i heard her scream. eyes rolling back into her head, spittle stretching in rivulets from her mouth, my sister flailed around the yard...screaming...hitting herself...throwing herself on the ground. it was the most peculiar thing we had ever seen, of course this was before we saw brad pitt in 12 monkeys.

gesticulating like a puppet whose stings had become tangled, she pirouetted in the green grass.

grabbing her, my parents whisked her into the house, away from prying eyes. we heard their taught voices through the wood of the bathroom door, then water gushing into the tub drowned out her keening. paint dried tight on our fingertips, as we sat in the hall, our backs pressed against the wall, waiting.

the door opened, eyes swollen, her body still shaking, wrapped in a green towel, my sister made her way to the couch, leaving hundreds of twitching ants drifting toward the metal drain.

the tree house is long gone now, the stones haunt some rubbish pile, and in their place grow yellow daffodils. the warmth of my coffee cup leaks into my fingers as i watch spring unfold, knowing the ants find each of us at times and at first glance we may seem crazy, until someone stops to care.


this is a Theme Thursday post and a much belated Magpie.

103 comments:

Tina said...

Oh my God, this scared me! Ridiculously perfect. The end gave me goosebumps of the 'that's so good' kind.

The Clean White Page

Just said...

Best opening line ever!
-Corrie

books,coffee,etc.... said...

Hi! Brian,

I must admit I thought that your sister suffered with epilepsy,but after reading this sentence from your post this quote explained it all...

"The door opened, eyes swollen, her body still shaking, wrapped in a green towel, my sister made her way to the couch, leaving hundreds of twitching ants drifting toward the metal drain."

Great descriptive piece~Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Mighty M said...

Well, I don't blame her. My reaction would be exactly the same and I SHUDDER to think what my daughter would do. She wouldn't go to sleep last night because of a fly. They don't even bite!

Valerie said...

Gosh, I wish I'd left it until tomorrow to read this.........
Reminds me of a yellow dress covered, COVERED, in black flies.... fortunately not ants but devastating nevertheless since I was wearing the dress at the time.

Everyday Goddess said...

Fire ants? Those little critters are fast and painful! Poor Sis!

I'm glad there are yellow daffodils to cheer things up over there.

william said...

wow that was creepy lol, welcome back mate hope u had a good rest and well done guessing my movie poem, lol clever man, regards.:)

Jennifer said...

I love the story Brian, you paint a vivid picture. And you brought me back to springime in my own backyard. In our back corner there was a yellow forsythia.

(I was hoping it was ants, and not a siezure or something!)

willow said...

Gosh, I thought your sister must have epilepsy, but than goodness it was only ants.

Hey, Magpie's still open until tomorrow, if you want to jump in with this one, Brian.

Katherine said...

I, like a few of your other readers, thought that your sister must have been having some kind of seizure. That was good Brian..not for your sister though.
I have an ant story too...it involves my great uncle, up a ladder, collecting mangoes off a mango tree. Whilst up the ladder a nest of green ants falls on him. Let me put it this way...I have never heard so many expletives come from a gentleman's mouth before, I didn't even think he would know of such words. He also did a striptease on my Grandmothers lawn...that was rather scary too!

Maggie said...

Welcome back Brian. I hate them ants too.

Meeko Fabulous said...

OMG! At first I started to think about how much I wanted a tree house when I was little, but then I could only think about how traumatized you must have all been by this experience! Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!

Brian Miller said...

oh its so good to be back! this was the first thing that popped in my mind seeing both the magpie and theme thursday prompt this week. popping around catching up!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

I KNEW that was what you were going to say!!! ANTS!!!

Jingle said...

Hello,
I am glad that you spring back to blogging with a tale of spring memory. I can picture you sitting on the floor with your back against the wall, and after your sister came out,
leaving hundreds of twitching ants drifting toward the metal drain...

beautiful spring story with theme yellow!

Jingle said...

"my heart, backfiring like a rusty muffler, sent goose flesh in waves to the shores of my arms, when i heard her scream.."

that's exactly how I would feel when I hear someone screaming while running...

you have a rich childhood
and that is a blessing!
Happy Thursday Ahead!

mama-face said...

the imagery of a boys waiting outside the door with paint drying on their hands...ahhh. You are so gifted.

:)

tori said...

This reminds me of the first summer we moved to South Carolina and we didn't know about red fire ants. My son built a fort in the woods. The ants crawled in his shorts and bit him everywhere...and I mean EVERYWHERE! It was awful.

Ronda Laveen said...

I can't even imagine how that must have felt. The daffodils were an interesting trigger for this memory. How scared everyone must have been.

The Turning Point said...

Our yard is a sea of cheerful yellow daffodils and forsythia.No ants just bumblebees celebrating this sunny spring day with me.

vivid, loved it.

Jim

rel said...

Wow Brian,
Gives new meaning to "ants in your pants". Odd how certain images lead us back to strong images in our subconcious. Lilacs do that for me.
So, how is your sister doing today?
rel

Catalyst said...

Scary, Brian. I, too, thought first of epilepsy. But those ants are even more chilling!

e said...

I felt for her having been attacked by fire ants in the tropics...I really enjoy your writing.

R. Burnett Baker said...

A wonderful ending, Brian. The story was captivating, but with the last lines you gave us much to consider about our sometimes insular lives, and much to be grateful about upon reflection.

Rick

Eva Gallant said...

Man, talk about britches giving you twitches! Poor thing. That must have been terrible for her!

chitowngreg said...

Wow, Brad Pitt and 12 Monkeys don't have anything on that! Have a good one!!

She Writes said...

Brain,

it was the most peculiar thing we had ever seen, of course this was before we saw brad pitt in 12 monkeys.

Too funny! Loved this :)! Nice to see you back.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I too thought seizure, but understand her screaming if red ants. Those little creatures really sting when they bite.

TechnoBabe said...

Those were some nasty ants. I can picture you looking and not knowing what was wrong or what to do.

Nessa said...

There's always a reason for insanity if we look for it, huh? Great story. Makes Spring a bit sinister too.

secret agent woman said...

This brought back a horrifying memory of fire ants swarming my legs when I was a kid in Mississipi. I can fully appreciate sister's reaction.

Mom said...

Laughed as you sent me back in time with your imagery. At the time we were so busy getting the ants off of Sissy that we couldn't stand back and see the big picture. Thirty years later the picture is delightful as told through your big brother eyes.

otin said...

12 Monkeys is actually one of my favorite movies!

I hate ants, especially fire ants!

Funny how reality can be so frightening!

Welcome back my friend to the show that never ends!

Marina said...

Great story, I enjoyed it!

Jaime said...

12 monkeys. what a strange movie. i'm still struggling with this week's theme. yellow just makes me think of "don't eat the yellow snow"

Brian Miller said...

otin, it was my wife's choice to go see 12 monkeys when we went in college...i don't let her live it down...and all of her movie choices must be approved first...lol.

Lisa said...

I live in Texas and those Fire Ants are horrific....just as bad as scorpions and bees. I HATE ants, God's creatures or not. Them is mean.

Nanc Twop said...

most peculiar thing we had ever seen, of course this was before we saw brad pitt in 12 monkeys...

Your prose and that movie are now both seared together in my memory!

5thsister said...

I wish I had control over the ants that invade my life. beautiful story. I'm glad your sis is okay1

dopey said...

Your recreation of the whole event makes it seem much more comical then it was and from the outside looking in I'm sure I looked very silly...wonder why I wasn't painting too though? You probably banished me from the project!

Jingle said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/lets-double-thursday-fun/

i tried Theme Thursday today,
hope that you like it!

lakeviewer said...

You sure had us frozen in place. Beautiful imagery.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Profound words Brian: "at first glance we may seem crazy, until someone stops to care". True of many of us struggling with inner demons.

Love the way you serve up the lessons out of everyday life!

Tracy said...

So nice to see you back online, Brian. {{hugs}}

The Retired One said...

I thought it was epilepsy you were describing too...
glad she was okay but I am sure still traumatized from the experience!

Magpie said...

There are always twists and turns in your stories...I love it.
Welcome back!

PattiKen said...

Oh, I so hope this isn't a true story! And here I was, looking forward to a good night's sleep. Thanks a lot!

Love the opening line, though. Most everything makes me think of crazy people.

Cloudia said...

Wonderful post!



Aloha from Hawaii my Friend


Comfort Spiral

LadyFi said...

Oh my - how terrifying! Such a great description... Were they fire ants?

Bernie said...

I hate ants, I have some every Spring and Summer on my driveway and I'm always frighten they will make their way to my house....Hugs

Sh@KiR@ CK said...

OMG.. your poor sister, Brian.
She must have hurt. Poor girl.
I hate ants.. especially red ones, fire ants.
I love how you compared Brad Pitt ,
12 monkey and your sister's reaction.

Brian... you have such a fun childhood.
Thank you for sharing.

Happy Easter Sunday!

hugs
shakira

ishabellemanalo said...

well, i love yellow... but i don't like ants... i don't like a lot of insects... :) glad to be reading from your blog again... :)

slommler said...

This so happened to my granddaughter and I put her in the bathtub as well. Very well written Brian. And so vivid.
Hugs
SueAnn

järnebrand said...

Ants... OK... Good one. Poor girl. And imagine you got Brad Pitt in there too, funny, he never seems to end up in any of my blog posts... I guess I just have to try harder. :) Well done. /Jo.

Vodka Logic said...

Brilliant and visual (have I said that before?)

I love your mom's comment. What is your sisters memory.

Well done xx

anthonynorth said...

That's a scary experience - and excellently told.

Tom said...

oops! luckily we don't have fire ants this far north...yet, but I hear they're on the move, them and armadillos.

Selma said...

I have had a similar experience and it is very painful. Those little critters can really bite. Glad your sister was OK.

Shadow said...

frightning!

tony said...

So Much Going On At The Same Time.It's Good To Know When A Lifeguard Is Watching.

dustus said...

Nice memory piece with lots of energy. Great descriptions and details.

Clueless said...

Oh, my how traumatic for everyone and I love the lesson that you have now read into it for there is no life without friends.

CC

kseverny said...

i like the story telling style here

Pauline said...

you have a knack for building suspense and then releasing it in a most startling way. reading here is always a treat!

Daniel said...

Welcome back my friend. Nice re-entry. Funny and scary story with a nice message.

Rita said...

Having nine brothers I'm surprised there was never a treehouse in our past. But, I do recall one episode when a group of them got into a patch of fire ants while on vacation one summer.

Your story certainly brought that event back to life in vivid color.

Brian, you certainly have the gift of storytelling. I always enjoy my visits to your site.

Thanks for the vote on my yellow door.

the walking man said...

Oh to have the skin thick enough where even the ants break their pincers on it. That is my goal, to sit in with the fire ants and see who can hurt the other the most.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Wow, such a horrible memory. So well visualized, and so, well described. Yikes. -J

nanny said...

Poor thing....how traumatic!! You paint a very clear picture of the incident...but I think I'll try to focus on the daffodils....wow!

amy said...

So well told ... I hope your sister has other - fonder - memories of the treehouse =-)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

yikes....

'backfiring like a rusty muffler' - priceless turn of phrase

happy TT

California Girl said...

that is a horrible story. your poor sister. ugh, ants, ugh.

Holly said...

Oh My!!

Mama Wheaton said...

You got me, first I thought she fell on the rebar and then I thought she was having a seizure, I was greatly relieved it was ants! My daughter sat on a pile on ants once, not a pretty sight.

blueviolet said...

Yikes! I was really worried for your poor little sister.

VE said...

My aunt came over once and I had the same reaction...

Mama Zen said...

I've been through this with my own little girl!

sheila said...

Good heavens you are such a great writer. LOVE this!

Jessie said...

what i love about your writing Brian is the way you weave a story. small details painted vividly, an occurance that sends your heart pounding, then the conclusion--awhhhh, but it doesn't end there. you've tucked inside your weave something much deeper, this time you disclosed it, sometimes you don't. i have no doubt you are one of the special ones who cares enough to dig a little deeper for the true discovery.

happy Easter,

Jingle said...

Happy Thursday. Happy April!
beautiful story from a beautiful writer!
cheers!

Rain said...

Very cool post. The message is clear to me, wish it was to most folk!
:)

HackyPie said...

gah! I was bit by ONE ant once, I can't imagine hundreds. I would be scared to step outside every again! Great job creating an emotional response from all your readers.

laurenmichelleotheim said...

I really enjoyed this, although, I was a bit scared for your sister at first! Well done1

laurenmichelleotheim said...

I really enjoyed this, although, I was a bit scared for your sister at first! Well done1

Cop Mama said...

That was so wonderfully written. I love the last line. Perfect.

I thought it was going to be bees!

Ziva said...

This was perfect. You write wonderfully.

CottageGirl said...

Oh yeah! You're back and better than ever!

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I was attacked by ants when I was very little. I used to dream that a man would come into my room with a basket of red ants and he'd try to put them in my ears at night so all of my childhood I slept with the covers over my ears.

I told my mom about the dreams when I was about 21 and she told me about the ant attack when I was a toddler and I never had the dreams again.

I'm glad you're back. I missed your posts!

Gladys said...

Wonderful. What great ebb and flow to a story.

Leslie said...

Love your story telling. Working with children I can't tell you how many times I have heard that shame shriek

Brian Miller said...

GEM...now that is creepy...i think i will lock the deadbolt tonight...lol. yeah its great to be back!

Poet Traveler (John) said...

http://jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com/

I found you listed on Jingle's page. We have never met, but I am here to congratulate you and to say that I your blog here is awesome. Well done indeed. I also write a few things and if you get time I invite you to read my page. Best wishes, Brian. I would like to add you to my blogroll but want to know if this is ok with you? :)
John
Poet Traveler
http://poettraveler.wordpress.com/

Angie Muresan said...

That was good and creepy! I must be the only one who didn't think of epilepsy, though.

jaymiethorne said...

now I'm itching...great read!

Ariel said...

This was scary. I love your anecdotes that even evolve as poetry. It must have been very painful to your sister. Good that your parents were there at that time.
Good to see you back with your great stories and verses.

CatLadyLarew said...

Scary stuff as a kid to watch that kind of thing happen. And so reasuring to know parents know just what to do.

Goofball said...

what a great childhood memory (well for you, not for your sister).

Reminds me of my neighbour's treehouse...inspiration for a post maybe ;)

Baino said...

Poor kid. I thought for a moment she'd fallen or had an epileptic fit or something. Nicely written Brian.

gayle said...

Poor little one...that happened to my niece at the beach when she was around 3. It's terrible!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh man, now I feel slightly itchy.

jj

lettuce said...

eeek, what a vivid scary memory, yes poor kid - and poor you too waiting and wondering.

Hilary said...

What a horrible situation that must have been for all of you but what a fine message.

Jingle said...

Hi, Brian:
how is your evening?
letting you know that you can nominate up to 15 poets, I said once, referring to 15 different poets, you know what I mean...
thank you for the patience and attention.

hope that you have a relaxing evening,
tired, but happy, which is cool.