Old memory

the memory of
the old wood shack where the bear lived
is in my dad’s voice

The bit about flies the other day brought back some memories of very, very early childhood when I'd spend the winter with my parents in Florida escaping the New England deep freeze to train harness horses for racing.

Now when I say early childhood, I'm talking about the oldest memories I'm able to produce and which date from a time when I was between 2.5 - 3 years of age. I'm sure of this because one of those memories is of my mom's 27th birthday in April in Florida which would have meant I was about to turn 3 a few weeks later in May. And, as it goes, I remember that 3 year old birthday when we were back in NH as well. (Although, I don't have another, specific birthday memory again until the birthday when I turned 9.)

But one of my favorite memories of that winter in Florida was of the old wooden shack that was just off the first turn of the training track and where my dad told me that a bear lived. This scared me to death at the time. I have vivid flashes of memory of seeing that shack at various times of day and from various distances, none of which were close except for the memory of being in my dad's lap in the sulky while he jogged a horse around the track.1 To this day I remember the fear, indeed, it probably the fear that makes this memory so sticky and something I can recall half a century later. It's funny, too, that even to this day the bear I imagine living there isn't a zoologically correct bear, but rather one that has been given the human attributes of walking upright on two legs and using his "arms" to open and close that shack door (presumably upon leaving to and returning from gobbling up human children).

I'm unsure why my dad told me this story of the bear and the shack. My best guess is there must have been something in the shack that was potentially dangerous to a toddler, and he didn't want me wandering over to it. Or maybe my dad just wanted to tell a scary story? I regret that I never asked him about this before he passed away 6 years ago.

In any case, all of the above led to today's haiku.

1This was the late 60s, when life was far more adventurous for parents and kids.I think today if someone took a toddler to a race track let alone took him along, sans seat belt, sans helmet, in a sulky behind what was probably only a partially trained horse, it would lead to a call to the authorities by some observant do-gooder.