28 November 2014
The Whispering Pines
“FOUR!” That was the most common sound of my childhood summer days. Pre-driver’s license and boyfriends, I spent every day of every summer with my grandparents at the Kossuth golf course. The golf course was always full of laughter and joy. I was always so happy to come here, but now I stand here, and I have never felt so alone.
The parking lot is empty. There doesn’t seem to be anyone here. As I walk up to the club house, I remember how it used to be bigger. Now it’s nothing more than a wooden shed with a coke machine on the porch and your choice of candy bars or potato chips on the counter. I look across the first fairway, and there is no one in sight. As I walk back to my car, a small gust of crisp, cool wind crawls up my backside and plays in my hair. The smell of pine consumes my nose, quickly my emotions flood up my throat and out of my eyes. “Maybe I will walk around for a bit.”
Across the gravel, the number two tee box caught my attention. It has always had the best view. There are small ripples dancing across the top of the pond, glistening in the sunlight. Standing there with the wind blowing to my back, I could almost feel how cool the water felt just by looking at it. I close my eyes, and I can hear the laughter of my grandmother. I can see her sitting in her fold out chair, sunscreen glob on her nose, and her floppy brim hat engulfing the top of her head. She loved to fish in that pond. When she would hook “the big one”, you could hear her all over the course.
I look down at the tee box. I can feel the grip of my club in my hand and Pappy’s voice in my ear. He was always calm as he would give me step by step instruction on my drive. “Steady,” he would say. A small tear crept over my bottom eyelid. I wipe it away quickly. “Perhaps I will walk a little further.”
Down the back side of the course, the grass is grown up; it hasn’t been mowed in quite some time. The putting greens are no longer the lush carpets that I remember, but more like unwaxed hardwood floors. The smell of harsh pesticide fills my nose. It’s very obvious to me that this is not the happy playground that I had grown to love as a child. Completely disgusted, I decide to walk back toward the club house. I can’t help but think of all the great things about his place. I learned to drive on these fairways, by golf cart of course. Pappy would talk me through it until I felt like a Nascar Champion. We used to sit at the picnic tables and enjoy ice cold Dr. Peppers and Snickers bars. Sitting there we would talk for what seemed like all the day.
As I make it back to my car, I hear the sound of laughter. Two small boys and their grandpa were getting out of a truck and unloading their things onto a cart. I stood and watched them for a moment. They were so excited and full of energy, bouncing around like small rubber balls. They argued over who was going to sit in the middle and who would get to drive the cart.
Staring at them play back and forth in the gravel, it came to me. Memories are what always made this place so beautiful. Memories will be what will mold this place for those two young boys. And perhaps one day, when they come back to take a look around, they will be able to understand the whisper of these pines.