Asters in September
Frost before the snows fly
Violets in the springtime
Daisies in July
I remember the valley from when I was a very little girl. I don’t think it’s really changed much from then even though it’s been, what, almost thirty years. God, it couldn’t have really been that long, now could it? Of course I wouldn’t expect it to change very much. Most things in this part of the world tend to change slowly if at all. This valley is nearly a half mile from my house, up the mountain a ways. I know people from Wyoming wouldn’t call them mountains but here in West Virginia we do. There is a stream flowing from even higher up with the valley floor on either side spreading out in a meadow some sixty yards wide before the woods starts again and the land once more begins to slope upwards. Here land doesn’t stay flat for very far anywhere. We own some two hundred forty-five acres of which most is still pretty wild. It’s been in the family for generations. We do have some thirty acres which my parents had planted in corn or orchard. The orchard is still there but the corn fields have gone back to cedars, locusts and elderberry.
I guess it really has been over a quarter century but when I see my own Amber running through the open field or climbing the trees I still see myself. She even looks like I did. The same long, corn silk blonde hair. The same bright blue eyes. The same long legs and Tomboy tendencies. But I also see her father in her taller stance and the shape of her nose. And I see both of us in her determination, whether in making it to the top of a tree or in trying to find where the butterflies live. I smile to myself as I think that I never really discovered their home either.
Right now it’s early afternoon and I’m just watching her play. She has never had a problem playing by herself. Out here we are a couple of miles from almost anyone else her age. She does have friends from school and we will bring them over or take her to their houses to play. She has no problem playing with others. It’s just that it doesn’t bother her if there’s no one else around. She’s just very independent. Come to think of it, I was a lot like that myself. When I was her age there were even fewer people in the area and until I started school at six - we had no kindergarten then - my cousin was generally the only other child I ever played with.
My cousin, Don, and his wife and their two kids live only three miles away by the roads - or a little over a mile through the woods - and Amber frequently plays with them. In fact in another half hour I’ll take her back to the house and get her ready to go over there. She’s spending the next two nights with them and Dan and I will have the place to ourselves. This afternoon he needed to finish a complicated program and I took Amber out here away from the house so he could get more work done. He’s a programmer. This has the advantage that we can live out here and he can still make a good living but working at home has the disadvantage that a six year old who wants to play with her daddy can be very distracting. Actually I’m a programmer too, and have the same problem when she wants to play with her mother. Most of the time she is quite happy to play alone, but there are times ... Still if needed, we can generally schedule things so that one or the other of us can keep her happy and out of the way while the other works. One of the advantages of being independent programmers is that we can set our own schedules. But as most mothers know, it’s still nice to have some time just for my husband and myself. Hence the visit to my cousin. We do the same for them and bring their Sue and John over here to play with Amber and let their parents have some alone time. It all seems to work out pretty well.
I lie back in the warm July sun and listen to the soft sound of the insects and a few birdcalls mixed with the sounds of the splashing water in the stream and of Amber talking to herself. Or maybe to the birds or the trees or the flowers. I know I used to. I know that if I listen long enough I will probably hear a passing jet high up somewhere but that would most likely be the only non-natural sound that would ever make its way into this valley. The smell of the clover surrounds me and I can see the million or so daisies sticking up everywhere. Now the sky is nearly clear with a few high, white clouds floating along on a soft breeze. Later I know there will be a nearly full moon. I close my eyes and think back to when I first discovered this valley.
I was born here. Well, not right here but in the hospital some twenty-five miles away. My parents owned the farm, or more properly, the place. Two hundred forty-five acres of hills and small fields. Not really a farm although they did raise some corn to be sold as feed. They also raised some chickens and sometimes a few pigs but the main thing grown was fruit. The orchard had apples mainly, but also a few plum, pear, and peach trees. Although this was not an expensive place to live, I doubt the things we grew would have supported us. My father also worked part time as a mechanic, repairing some of the heavy machinery the nearby mining company used. He had learned this trade in the army and was quite good at that so there was always something for him to do. Still, I doubt there would have been enough for the company to hire him full time but I knew he never wanted that kind of regular work anyway. He loved the orchard and the small amount of farming he did and could never have been happy as a “wage slave”.
Of course I learned most of this when I grew older. I remember fragments of things from when I was very young, but I think the earliest really clear memory I have was one September when he took me up to the valley. My birthday is in early November and I would be turning five. As I have said, I was still at home because there was no kindergarten then. One day after lunch he said, “Let’s go for a walk.” I loved doing things with my dad and excitedly agreed. Mostly we did things close to the house but today he led me out through the woods and up the hill behind the house. I remember seeing him and mom smile at each other and I think they had agreed that she would stay in the house so the two of us could have some time alone.
Anyway, I remember walking for a long time. It was cool enough that I had on my little light jacket but the sun was shining and the sky nice and clear. After what seemed a very long trip to me we stepped out of the woods into the edge of the open valley. I remember stopping and staring, my mouth wide open. Everywhere there were purple flowers. Asters, as I later learned. There was also the deep, deep purple of some ironweed and the bright yellow of goldenrod, but mostly I remember the huge sea of purple asters. I had never seen anything so lovely.
I don’t remember all that we did. I just remember picking a big handful of the lovely purple blooms to take back to mom and I do remember hanging on to them all the way back and being so proud when I handed them to her and she put them in a vase to sit on the mantel above the fireplace.
That was my first trip - at least the first I remember - up to the valley. At that age I didn’t go back again for a while. I believe it was in late November - yes, it was just after Thanksgiving - when my dad again suggested we go for a walk the next day. They woke me up early, before the sun was up, and mom dressed me warmly. The weather had turned quite cool and most mornings there was at least a little frost outside until the sun had been up for some time. We had had a few light snows, but nothing to really cover the ground. When we left, mom came with us and when we stepped outside, the sun was just below the horizon.
This time the walk seemed a little shorter and we reached the entrance to the valley just after the sun cleared the eastern mountains. When we first left the trees I was greatly disappointed. I had been expecting the lovely purple flowers and instead all I saw was brown grass and dead weeds. I almost cried, “Where are the pretty flowers, Daddy?”
I think he and mom laughed a little but then he explained, “The purple flowers will be back next year but there are other flowers here now.”
I looked all around and didn’t see anything except brown and frost. “Where? I don’t see any.”
He smiled down at me and said, “Come over here.” He led me a little way into the field and pointed at a brown goldenrod stem. His finger moved downwards to point to the ground where the stem emerged. “Look down there.”
I moved closer and my eyes flew open as I exclaimed, “A white flower. Made of ice.”
Mom said, “That’s right. A frost flower.”
“It’s beautiful!” I examined it from all around and then I started looking elsewhere. I found others. Each one a little different but each looking unbelievably delicate. Each appeared to be made of spun spider web but a spider web of glistening crystal.
I must have spent an hour going from one lovely frost flower to another. I think at one point I asked if I could pick some and take them back. My parents smiled but explained that they would melt. “Frost flowers only live outside and only until the sun warms them. Just like the asters don’t last forever, neither do the frost flowers. They just don’t last as long as asters.”
“Will they come back next year, too?”
“Yes, they always come back.”
The next week snow came and the trail to the valley got a little hard for someone my size, so it wasn’t until March that we went back again. The day was warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket when I was walking but we packed a picnic lunch for the three of us and mom insisted I take my jacket for when we stopped moving to eat.
Again as we emerged from the woods I froze and just stared. The snow had gone some time before and now the grass was turning green. But it wasn’t the green that stopped me. The entire floor of the valley was again carpeted with flowers! Purple ones and white ones and some that had both colors. “Violets,” mom said.
I spent a long time going all around looking for perfect ones. After we had eaten our lunch I insisted on picking a big bunch to take back. Instead of just letting me carry them, Mom wrapped them in some of the plastic from our lunch and put them in with the other picnic stuff so they wouldn’t get crushed. When we got back she found there were enough for three vases. One of them went into my bedroom and for days I looked at them when I woke and again when I was going to sleep.
But my greatest surprise was still to come. It was the middle of the summer. The week before we had driven over to a town thirty miles away to watch the Fourth of July fireworks and I was thrilled by the wonderful display of burning colored flowers as they exploded in the sky. This weekend we again packed a picnic lunch and mom and dad and I headed back to the valley.
No purple carpet this time. No fragile blooms of spun crystal. No, instead the entire valley floor was a blaze of white and red clover blooms, but above these stood rank upon rank of lovely daisies. Yellow centers and white petals. Millions and millions of them, some almost as tall as I was. Most of what I remember from that afternoon was running through the wonderland of blossoms and just reclining in the thick clover, drinking in its sweet scent, and looking up at the million stems with their yellow centers and white petals.
There was one other thing I remember. This was the first time my dad said it to me but it would certainly not be the last. Probably hundreds of times as I grew older. As we were leaving the open valley, just before we started back into the woods, I stopped and looked back. “Will they be here next time?” I asked.
“Maybe. Depends when we come. But if not they will be back next year.” Then he quoted,
“Asters in September
Frost before the snows fly
Violets in the springtime
Daisies in July”
I never knew if it was something he had read or if he made it up, but either way I will always remember it associated with him.
As I got older and started school, my circle of friends expanded. That didn’t make any of them closer so most of the time I still played by myself, but maybe every month or so either I would go spend a night with one of my friends or one or more of them would come spend a day or two with me. Still, it never bothered me to be by myself. I had a good imagination and could always find something of interest to do. It might be just reading a good book or drawing or building something in my father’s workshop. Or it might be going to the woods and dreaming up an imaginary setting and story. I also never lost my interest in the valley. By the time I was eight or nine I was allowed to go there by myself and that frequently became my destination. There I could read or draw or daydream imaginary adventures. Or just lie back and absorb the lovely sights and sounds and smells.
Maybe it was because of my dad’s abilities in the mechanical area or maybe something I read or saw or maybe just my genes, but whatever the reason I developed an interest and some fair ability in science and technical areas. This made me a little unique as very few of the other kids - either girls or boys - around here had any similar interest. Oh, some of the boys especially worked on cars or other machinery, but they had no real interest in understanding the technical principles behind them. By the time I started seventh grade many at school had come to think of me as a nerd. (I’m sure most of them had never met a real nerd and didn’t realize I couldn’t begin to compare.)
I should say that while we were still quite isolated in this part of the country, we were not totally separated from the rest of the world. Unlike when my parents were young, we did have satellite TV, a computer system and the internet, although that wasn’t anything like it is now. Although I did occasionally play video games at some of my friends’ houses, I never got into the video game stuff so not having one didn’t bother me at all. If anything the computer games that did interest me were the strategy types rather than the “chase and shoot-em-up” ones.
I guess by the time I entered junior high I realized I was a fair amount brighter than most of the other kids. I certainly wasn’t a genius or anything but in school I did catch on a bit faster and I had a real interest in learning about most things. About that time I took an interest in learning to program computers - not just running other peoples’ programs, but writing my own. From books and on my own I learned to be pretty good in a couple of different languages. Although I wasn’t really interested in designing the hardware or anything, I did learn a lot about how computers actually worked. Understanding what the hardware really does helps a lot in making a program do what you want it to.
While my interest in computers did make me a little different from many of the other girls in some ways, I certainly had a lot in common with them, too. In particular, boys. At that age we were definitely beginning to notice the opposite sex.
By eighth grade most of us had started to become involved in mixed activities: parties, games and so on. I’m also sure a few girls were involved in some intense one-on-one activities. By that I mean that they were sexually active. Still, I think those girls were in the minority. In general the majority of our activities were group but most of us were also beginning to date as single couples. Not frequently, but by the time I turned fourteen in November I had been out with three different boys, although only one time each with two of them. The third, Ron, had taken me out four times, but our romantic activities had been limited to a little hand holding and once in a movie, his arm around my shoulder.
In mid December I mentioned that the next weekend my parents and I would be going out to cut our Christmas tree. Ron lived in the small town where our school was located and he said that they would probably be buying a tree from someplace in town. That night I asked my parents to be sure it was OK and the next day invited Ron to come over and find a tree on our place. After all, it wouldn’t cost us anything and would save Ron’s family the cost of a tree. Of course, that wasn’t my real motive for asking. Anyway, his parents agreed and said they would bring him over on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning my family went out and found our own tree. I had kind of hinted that I would take Ron out to find his. I saw my mom and dad smile at each other and dad give her a wink before he said, “Are you sure you won’t get lost or anything?”
I knew he was teasing but couldn’t help but answer, “Dad, you know I know this place perfectly well! I couldn’t get lost here.”
He smiled and said, “Unless you wanted to.”
I felt my face go red but he and mom pretended not to notice as he added, “Sure. Ron’s parents can stay here where it’s warm and talk with us while you two go out and get frozen.” Mom and dad had met Ron’s parents before, so it wasn’t like the first time or anything.
When Ron’s family arrived, my Mom suggested that they come in and have some cake and coffee while we went and found a tree. Ron’s dad glanced at us and then turned to my dad. I couldn’t see his face but I thought I saw a smile at the corner of his mouth as he said, “Thanks. That sounds a lot better than getting cold and wet.” The four adults went inside and Ron and I took a small bow saw and headed out into the woods.
I knew where there were some nice pines about the right size and we headed along a path in that direction. As soon as we were out of sight of the house, Ron took my hand and I moved close beside him as we made our way up the hill. There was just enough snow to cover the ground and the temperature was probably in the low thirties so we were actually quite comfortable in the light weight jackets as we walked. I don’t think either of us did anything consciously but I remember our hips occasionally sliding against each other as we walked and I remember it as quite a pleasant sensation.
It only took about ten minutes to reach the area with the pines and in another twenty Ron had found a tree he felt was perfect. He crawled under it and cut it and we started dragging it back towards the house. I didn’t want us to get back quite so soon, so before we got to the edge of the woods above the house, I said, “Ron, let’s leave the tree here for a few minutes. I want to show you something.”
He agreed and I desperately tried to think of something that would be of sufficient interest to justify taking him to see. I doubt, really, he would have cared if I showed him anything or not but I started along another path that led to a small stream with a little waterfall. The path was wide enough that we could walk side by side and after a couple of minutes Ron let go of my hand and moved his arm around my waist, pulling me against him. Now our hips were constantly touching and I liked that even better.
We emerged on the bank of the stream and I pointed out the waterfall. Ron said something to the effect that it was very nice but he seemed much more interested in me. I certainly had no problem with that.
We stood side by side, his arm pulling me against him, for several minutes. That time of year the sun goes down pretty early and, especially in the mountains, it quickly becomes dark. It wasn’t quite sunset yet but it wouldn’t be long and we knew we had probably better get back before dark. Not that there would be any problem finding our way or anything, but parents tend to get concerned a little easily. (Now that I am a parent I understand that much better than I did then.)
I was leaning against Ron, my head on his shoulder, enjoying the feel of his arm around me, and wishing we didn’t have to go back so soon. I lifted my head to say something and stopped as I saw Ron staring down at me. I froze for a few seconds and that was time enough for Ron to quietly whisper, “Lisa, you are really beautiful.”
I know I’m not too bad. I was five foot seven, I was slim, my face was all right and I had begun to develop some nice curves. Still, I don’t think a boy - or any non-relative - had ever called me beautiful. I felt myself freeze and my breath catch slightly as Ron continued to stare. And still longer as his hand moved to lightly stroke my face. I must have still been breathing but I only remember his hand turning my face slightly and then his lips approaching mine. Approaching and then touching and then pressing firmly against them. And my own lips were pressing back just as firmly.
That was my first real kiss. That first one lasted only scant seconds but some of the ones that followed lasted much longer.
We probably only stood there, clinging tightly to each other and kissing repeatedly, for fifteen minutes or so. However long it was, it was far too short. Still, it was long enough for the sun to sink below the mountains and reluctantly we finally separated and, still with our arms around each other’s waist, started back.
We pulled the tree next to his parents car and then headed into the house. My dad said, “We were just getting ready to send out a search party. Thought you might have wandered over into Kentucky or somewhere. Afraid you might have frozen, but you look warm enough after all.” Again I could see his smile and knew he was teasing but I felt myself turn a little red anyway.
Ron and I continued to date throughout the rest of eighth grade, freshman year and on into sophomore. Not exclusively, but mostly we went out with each other. Since neither of us could drive, we were quite limited in where we could go and what we could do. As far as we were concerned there was nowhere near enough time for us to be alone. On the rare occasions when we were able, we spent as much time as we could learning as much about kissing as was possible, although we really didn’t go much beyond that. There was some petting, true, but only outside of clothing.
During our sophomore year we both got driver’s licenses and then we could often find somewhere isolated to park and engage in some very serious kissing. But also during the spring of sophomore year we actually began to grow a little apart. We still both enjoyed the romantic activities - or I should say erotic activities, if I am honest. We still didn’t go any further but we did really enjoy the kisses. No, it was other things that separated us.
I had become very interested in computers and programming and planned to get a college degree in the field. Ron, on the other hand, had no real academic interest and planned on joining the navy as soon as he finished high school. He never said explicitly, but seemed to think that a woman should not work outside the home and should just follow her husband around wherever he went. In the navy this meant waiting on shore for six months out of twelve. I could never imagine myself in that kind of future.
Anyway, over the spring of sophomore year we grew more apart. We didn’t date as often and again started going out with others a little more. We never lost interest in the kissing but we did sort of somewhat lose interest in each other. By summer we had largely stopped going out together.
I did date some other boys and even spent time kissing a couple of them, but never anything as intense as with Ron. While I had thoroughly enjoyed those activities with Ron I had just come to realize he was the wrong boy for me.
My parents must have noticed when we began to see less of each other but they never said anything. However when a couple of weeks went by in May and early June without us going out, my mom finally asked, “Problems with Ron?”
We were alone and I had always been able to talk with her. “Not really a problem. It’s just that we’ve sort of grown apart. I don’t think I could ever get serious about him.”
We were sitting at the table out back, sipping iced tea. She smiled at me and said, “Nothing lasts forever. Fortunately the bad things don’t but neither do the good ones. The trick is to enjoy the good ones while you can and make them last as long as you are able.”
I smiled back and just nodded. Later I was to realize that was probably some of the best advice she ever gave me.
That summer passed as had many others. I did date other boys occasionally. Mom, dad and I did a lot of things together. We took a trip over to Virginia Beach for a week and then went up to DC for another week. It was the first time I had had a chance to see any of the museums or monuments and I found myself quite impressed. At home we frequently would take a picnic lunch out into the woods or up to the hidden valley or sometimes over to a nearby state park. All in all it was a good summer and I never had time to regret anything about Ron.
School started and once more I became involved in class work and other school activities. I didn’t have my own car but we had a car and a pickup and I could usually have one of those when I wanted to go somewhere.
One Saturday in late September three of us again took a picnic up to the valley. The weather was quite warm and clear but we had already had a few cold nights. When we entered the valley I saw that the asters had mostly gone. Only a few still remained, the rest gone to brown stems. I think the disappointment showed on my face as I said, “Looks like the asters are gone.”
Mom touched my arm. “Nothing lasts forever. As you have heard, ‘For everything there is a season.’ Just remember the good things will come back again. Enjoy them whenever you can.”
My dad smiled and added the often repeated verse,
“Asters in September
Frost before the snows fly
Violets in the springtime
Daisies in July”
I smiled then and said, “Yes. Daisies next July.” A lot would happen before the next July.
Four weeks later it was nine o’clock on a rainy Saturday night. The temperature was down in the low thirties. Much more and the rain would become sleet. I was at home and had been working on school work. There was a big project due in another week and I wanted to get it finished early. Mom and dad had gone over to a nearby town that afternoon and said they would probably get some supper over there. I had made a frozen pizza and was again working on the finishing touches of my project.
I thought I heard a car pull up. I was surprised because if it was mom and dad they would have pulled around to the back and it was very rare for anyone else to come out here - especially this time of night. There was a knock on the door and I went to answer it.
Even out here I didn’t just open the door to a late night knock. I looked through the peephole. Standing outside was a highway patrol officer, his cruiser behind him. I felt myself knot up a little inside but I managed to open the door.
“Miss Lisa Anderson?” He asked.
I nodded and stepped back. He entered, removed his hat and closed the door behind him.
The look on his face did nothing to untie the knots in my stomach. I think I knew what he was going to say before he said a word.
“Miss Anderson, I’m very sorry to have to tell you this but there has been an accident.”
I swallowed. “My parents?” Was all I managed to get out.
Before he could say anything else I said, “They’re dead, aren’t they?”
I think he was surprised but answered, “I’m afraid so. I’m truly sorry to have to tell you this.”
I nodded. In a voice with no inflection whatsoever I asked, “Just what happened.” I knew my father - my mother, too, for that matter - was an excellent driver.
He confirmed my thoughts. “It wasn’t their fault. A drunk driver ran a stop sign on the highway and knocked them over the hillside. They had no chance and it was instantaneous. The other driver was also killed.”
I nodded. I don’t know if he expected hysterics or not, but he seemed a little unsure at my reaction. It wasn’t that I felt nothing. No, the emotion was there but I would deal with it later in my own way. I had never been one to fly off the handle. I have a very logical mind but sometimes emotion is so strong that you must put it aside until it can be handled in a better fashion.
I have since learned that not everyone reacts like this. In fact, I have been told that it is quite rare. But then I didn’t know. I had always met emotional shocks - although never one this bad - in this way. I was always outwardly calm, doing whatever needed to be done at the time, and then later would meet the situation as logically as I could to resolve it.
The trooper asked, “Is there somewhere I can take you? Or someone I can call?”
“My dad’s brother lives three miles from here. I would guess he should be told.”
Still looking at me with a somewhat perplexed expression on his face he replied, “Why don’t I take you over there and I can tell them what happened?” I nodded and went to get my coat.
He drove me over to Uncle Jim’s in his cruiser. We went up to the door together and I stood by as he told my uncle, my Aunt Sara and my cousin, Don, what had happened. Their reaction was a little more emotional than mine had been but not hysterical or anything. I think the officer might have said something to them about me being in shock or something but they knew me well enough to know that this was probably the way I would handle things and told him not to worry. They would take care of me.
After twenty minutes or so the trooper left. My aunt and uncle made sure I was all right and in another hour they took me up to a guest room where I could stay.
By the next morning I think I had come to terms with what had happened. I was, of course, extremely sad, but realized it could not be undone. I remembered my mom saying that even good things can’t last forever, but to enjoy them while you can. She had also said that more good things would come in their time, even if not the same ones.
I came down to breakfast and I think my aunt and uncle were not really surprised to see that I was in control of myself. They would take me Monday to see about arrangements, notify the school and so on. My uncle had already called the police and found out what needed to be done.
I missed the next week of school. The state sent a social worker out to see me. I was sixteen although I would be seventeen in a couple of weeks. Still I was a minor and the worker said I would need a guardian. They would be able to find me a foster home if needed. At that point my uncle stepped in and said that such would not be necessary. He was now my next of kin and could be responsible. If necessary he could adopt me.
We ended up making one trip to court at the county seat where the judge placed my uncle as the responsible person. Adoption was not needed unless we wanted it. As soon as we returned to my uncle’s house, my aunt said I could move into the room I had been using. We could get whatever we needed from my home.
I looked at her. “Aunt Sara, you know me better than that. I’ll continue to live at home.”
“But the judge made us responsible for you. They won’t let you live alone until you’re eighteen.”
“I’m not living alone. I’m part of this family. I just have my own room and that room happens to be a little farther away than most. Look, you know I can take care of myself. If I ever do need help, you’re only a couple of miles off.”
She still looked uncertain. Before she could say anything else, I added, “There has been enough of an upheaval already. There’s no reason to make things even more different.”
Slowly she shook her head back and forth and then smiled. “Lisa, I know you well enough and you are enough like your dad and like Jim that I know I can’t change your mind. The only thing I’ll say is it would be better if you don’t mention your exact arrangements. We don’t want the authorities butting in, now do we?”
I smiled back and gave her a hug. “No, we don’t. I can handle most things and I know I can count on you and Uncle Jim to help if needed.”
The next day I moved back to my own home. When the will was finally probated it really became my own, or would officially when I turned eighteen. I also found that my parents had had an insurance policy. It wasn’t huge but it also paid double for accidental death. Additionally the insurance company went after the insurance of the other driver. Fortunately he had been covered. When everything was finally straightened out, I was left with enough to see me through the rest of high school and college. In many ways I was better off financially than I had ever expected to be.
Although I probably appeared to handle everything in a logical, controlled manner, there was definitely an emotional reaction. I just didn’t show it as much as many people would, but I was deeply saddened. I loved my parents quite strongly and I missed them terribly. I’m sure there was some depression even if not really clinical. I mean, if I had had no emotional response then there would definitely have been something wrong with me. I had the response but I was able to deal with it in my own fashion. Some things did change. I spent less time with school activities. I didn’t attend all the ball games as I always had, although I did make a few of them. It was well into the spring before I dated again and even then it was more casual than romantic. But overall, I managed better than even I would have expected.
My aunt and uncle were always ready to help with anything I needed and my cousin Don, who was a year older than I was, spent a lot of time with me. This did make things a little easier.
I had never really lived by myself but I now found it was not as big a change as I might have expected. I had always helped with the cooking and cleaning and so on, so this was nothing new. I made the change a little smaller by continuing some things we had always done. I actually put up a Christmas tree and decorated the house. When Valentine’s Day arrived, I baked a heart shaped cake and then invited my aunt, uncle and cousin over. I even dyed eggs at Easter.
As I said, money wasn’t really a problem and I quickly learned how to budget and handle any spending needed. There was no mortgage - the land had been ours for generations. Utilities and so on were paid each month along with the property tax when it became due.
I decided to let the corn fields go but to continue with the orchard. I didn’t think I could handle all of that on my own but found a man who lived nearby who was willing to help for shares.
That fall I had started my junior year. I was taking all the math and science classes I could. The more I studied these areas the better I liked them. But computers were still my main interest. Also that year I took the SATs and scored pretty well. By spring I had decided to try for Ohio State when I graduated. I was told that with my grades and those SAT scores I shouldn’t have any real problem getting in.
My social life continued to move slowly. I did date but not real frequently and none of them developed into any real relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t get along or anything. No, it was just that none of the boys really excited me. At least not for a long term serious relationship. There were a couple who definitely knew how to excite me with their kisses. Still, I never went much further with any of them.
I did have a fairly high sex drive but I just couldn’t see myself going that far with any of the boys I knew. Not even oral, although I knew a lot of my friends didn’t consider that real sex and didn’t hesitate along those lines. No, I wasn’t “saving” myself or anything. I just wasn’t ready to go that far with anyone I knew.
I did, however, relieve a lot of pressure by myself. I even managed to order a vibrator and a couple of other toys over the internet. When they were delivered in a plain package I relaxed and since I lived by myself, used them whenever the urge struck, which was actually quite often.
The year drew to a close. Final exams came and went along with a class picnic and a few parties, two of which I attended. I didn’t look for a summer job anywhere. I had decided to keep the orchard going and that would take a fair amount of my time. Besides, I had sufficient money from the insurance. Not the way I would have liked to become financially set, but it was there and I was going to make the best of it. Until August I would have no school work but I still spent quite a bit of time studying programming on my own. I had filled out an application for OSU and waited for an announcement of early admission.
One day in late June I was working by myself out in the orchard. I heard a car pull into the drive and a few seconds later a “beep, beep” from the horn. The orchard isn’t that far from the house and I headed back to see who had come.
When I came around the house I saw Don’s pickup. He and a second man were standing by it. As I neared, I saw that the second man was a couple of inches taller than Don, and Don was six feet even. He had blonde hair, a little darker than my own, and as I came up to him I saw his eyes were a deep blue.
“Hi, Cousin,” Don said. I hadn’t seen him for several weeks because he was over at some summer camp for kids, acting as an assistant counselor.
“Hi, yourself,” I replied.
He went on. “I’d like you to meet Dan. He was a counselor with me at camp. He’s from up in Ohio, but I brought him back for a little visit.”
I turned towards Dan. With a wide smile, which I couldn’t help but return, he said, “I’m very pleased to meet you. Don said he had a beautiful cousin, but I see he understated it.”
I felt myself grow slightly warm but then I looked Dan up and down. “I’m happy to meet you also. Dan hasn’t said anything about you or even mentioned your name but I can see he understated that also.”
That brought a laugh from both of us. Don was looking back and forth between us. “I see I may have ignited something here.” Then he turned towards Dan and added, “But you’d better be a little careful, Dan. She’s from West Virginia and can shoot as well as any of us. Don’t get her mad.”
Another laugh and Dan glanced at Don and then turned to look directly at me and replied, “Well, my family is from Kentucky so I can do pretty well myself. I always catch what I hunt.”