The Saturday after Thanksgiving was the most anticipated weekend for the Bobwhites. It marked the opening of our outdoor ice skating rink, Tucker Road. Nestled in a valley whose hills were thick with fir trees, branches heavy with snow, we couldn't wait for our first glimpse of red jackets. Rink Guard boy crushes for the season determined, unbreakable rules argued. First dibs, first smile, first hello, first to be helped up, first to be asked to couple's skate. Any first and your crush was chosen. Endless sleepover discussions for long winter nights.
After school taxi in my mother's car, we could barely contain ourselves as we began the steep decent of Tucker Road. Trees on both sides hiding our view, neck craned silence held for just a moment. Glistening snow in the broad valley opening before us, the most magical place on earth to be. Stand in line tickets, bench room squeeze, laces tied, anticipation hanging in the murmur above our heads. Shoulder to shoulder wait behind the glass, "All Skate" the moment we had waited for.
Group of girls arm in arm, barely moving at all, excited giggling as red jackets flew by, their grace of movement as comfortable as their handsome youth worn with confidence. Boy crushes claimed right away. Long hair and bell bottoms, cool skating moves, a nod in our direction sealing the deal. Complete silence separated me from my friends as true love found it's way. "I'm going to marry him." Moments later, a fall on the ice, a hand extended to me, "May I help you up?"
In that night's morning hours my mother would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me about a dream that woke her from her sleep. It seems she had spoken to the Rink Guard in the red jacket. In the morning I would find a painting on her easel with a note attached for me.
"Elizabeth, This painting is the story of your life. You are the tree just to the right of the little cottage, not many branches, so very afraid of life. The tree next to you is the young man you have met, and he will be your husband. His arms will shelter you and allow a safe place for you to grow.
You will have a son and a daughter as you see by the little trees sheltered under yours. The trees just behind the cottage represent the people who will be most important in your life together. A beloved mother who passed away, a mother who took her place, a father, and the aunt and uncle who sheltered this young man when he lost his mother at such a young age. The dense forest represents an extraordinary family who will always see that you feel loved. Brothers and sisters are the pine trees in the left foreground who will make you one of their own. They will have many children.
The cottage represents your marriage. Dark footprints outside the door represents trouble to your marriage only coming from outside of it, but the bright fire glowing through the window assures your love will be the forever kind.
The stream in the foreground represents change. Your husband will take time to find contentment in a career, and you will move frequently.
The little bridge is the gateway to your life, and I am the little twig bush. I will not be apart of your life, but I will always be watching, and I will only allow good to come your way. Your loving mother, 1975."
I was 16 years old.
POST SCRIPT TO STORY:
Three years after my mother painted, "The Dream" I would marry my Rink Guard. We would move to Lake Ann, Michigan and live in a Honeymoon cottage on a stream. Across the street was an A-frame!